Ministries supported by Shared Giving
January 3, 2017 / By UNY Communications Team
The past year has been filled with opportunities for people across the Conference to increase their leadership capacity. November of 2015 saw the launch of the UNY Leadership Academy attended by 17 people throughout the Conference. The Rev. Anne Cole had this to say about her experience, “Leadership Academy has equipped me to better care for self spiritually while leading adaptive change in the congregation I serve. I am blessed to serve a congregation with a missional focus that is engaged in collaborative ministry with other congregations and agencies in the community. Leadership Academy has served to affirm the work our congregation is doing and given us tools to clearly communicate mission and vision.”
Leadership Academy was not the only opportunity as over 500 people came together to hear from Jorge Acevedo of Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida about how having a strategy for ministry makes all the difference. Opportunities such as the Bishop’s Retreat, district training events, Hand-to-Plow, Transitional and Intentional Interim Ministry training, and Tending the Fire were engaged as well.
The Conference is committed to increasing the leadership capacity of Christ-following leaders. Opportunities like those above and others in development show how together we can do more than individual congregations.
To learn more about UNY Leadership, refer to our Advocate issue that highlighted UNY leadership at bit.ly/LeadershipAdvocate.
New Faith Communities
Since 2012, the UNY Conference has been actively engaged in following the Holy Spirit’s lead to plant New Faith Communities. How have we done this?
The Annual Conference budget has allowed us to hire a full-time Director of New Faith Communities to oversee the creation of an entire system to support individuals and churches that have a vision to reach new people in their communities by planting. Under the leadership of Bishop Webb, this Director sits on the appointive cabinet, enabling a close working relationship with each district superintendent, and wise deployment of gifted planters where they are most needed.
By Conference action, 60-70 percent of the income from the proceeds of sold church properties has been used to help us place gifted planters in the places where God is calling us to plant. Each dollar has been invested in teams of people, all focused on building relationships with new people, and creating safe places for them to explore God’s love and grace.
What are the fruits of this work?
As of September 30, 2016, the people of our Conference have planted a total of 71 New Faith Communities! Fifty-eight of these are currently active. And, today some 2,000+ people who were not connected to a United Methodist Church in 2012 are now actively living as disciples of Jesus Christ. Many are new Christians.
To read more about UNY’s New Faith Communities, refer to our Advocate issue that focused on UNY New Faith Communities at bit.ly/NFCAdvocate.
Camp & Retreat Ministries
Our UNY camp and retreat centers offer sacred places “apart” dedicated to God and a community of Christian practice. By retreating to God’s creation and the distractions of everyday life, camp and retreat participants often experience transformation in their self-understanding and deeper relationships with God and others.
Participants come from all backgrounds and traditions, some active in their faith, others exploring. Our investment in ministry shares supporting camp and retreat ministry outreach makes the following possible
- 2,084 children and youth attended camps in 2016; nearly 30 percent received scholarship support.
- Servant leadership development through teaching, modeling and experiential education.
- Welcoming Christian hospitality to all, offering care, connection and community.
- Facility and site improvements to meet the needs of all ages.
- Equipping and inspiring persons to live out their transformational faith in their daily lives.
- Nurturing Christian faith and discipleship; over 50 percent of clergy and over 40 percent of lay leaders had a singularly significant faith experience at a camp or a retreat.
- Partnerships with congregations connecting with youth and families in their communities through shared camp and retreat experiences.
- Sacred space and Sabbath opportunities; a recent study documented that retreating to God’s creation reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
To learn more about the UNY Camp and Retreat Ministry, refer to our Advocate issue that highlighted the UNY Camp and Retreat Ministry at bit.ly/CRMAdvocate.
Moving from being stagnant or declining as a congregation requires significant effort and willingness to invest in the life of the congregation from clergy and laity together. Increasingly, the congregations of the Upper New York Annual Conference are investing their time, talent, and treasures in this ministry work. Throughout the Conference, congregations engage in the Hand-to-Plow process through peer learning and consultation weekends.
For example, Whitney Point UMC has used the energy and direction of their consultation weekend to sharpen their focus on intentionally developing disciples, increasing their stewardship understanding, and building greater connection with their community. The Syracuse United Methodist Churches have been journeying through a customized Hand-to- Plow process to help the seven congregations find a common vision for the city while celebrating the unique gifts each congregation offers. Through this process, momentum is building and lives are being impacted in the city of Syracuse. Excitement, discipleship, and attendance in worship are increased across the city as a result.
Additional efforts are being made as congregations reach out to each other and staff of the Annual Conference to explore the road ahead. Congregations like Clifton Springs UMC, Findley Lake UMC, and Calvary UMC Latham are investing in increasing their vitality through connections provided through the Conference. A group of leaders from East Randolph UMC invested time and resources in learning what it will look like to be more intentional in their ministry. This was encouraged by visiting other congregations and a retreat time with Conference staff.
All of the efforts being undertaken by local congregations are made possible by what we do together. Sharing the journey of being the church together provides more opportunity than being an isolated congregation trying to move to greater vitality.
To learn more about UNY Revitalization, refer to our Advocate issue that highlighted UNY Revitalization at bit.ly/RevitalizeAdvocate.