The Leadership Report inspires collaboration at AC2023
The United Methodists of Upper New York (UNY) Leadership Report was presented during the afternoon plenary at the 2023 UNY Annual Conference. Jessica White, Conference Lay Leader, presented the laity portion and the Rev. Mike Weeden, Northern Flow District Superintendent and Dean of the Cabinet, presented the Superintendency portion.
Jessica White used the term claity to describe collaborative ministries between clergy and laity that work to discover, develop, and deploy Christ-following Transformational Leaders. She mentioned over a dozen ministries that illustrate the power of claity.
For example, she said, “Wesley’s Place collaborated with United Women of Faith and local churches to create 200 bags given out for Nurse’s Appreciation Week. That is claity!”
Asbury First recently served their first community breakfast since COVID. That is claity!”
Clara’s Closet supplies clothing and household goods to many refugees and people with financial struggles in Buffalo—that is claity!”
At Sarah Jane Johnson, everyone in the congregation committed to 1 hour of service in the community during Lent—that is claity!”
Jessica White expressed that there is so much claity happening every day throughout Upper New York through blessing boxes, disaster relief kits, youth groups, mission trips—"we see the partnership of lay and clergy bringing Christ’s vision into the world all throughout the Conference.” Jessica said.
Bishop Héctor loved the term, claity; he said, “We’re going to use the idea of claity while moving forward—this goes in line with my shift to collaboration I spoke about this morning!”
Rev. Weeden exclaimed “We are better together!” to introduce the superintendency portion of the report.
He recognized that even with the transition to six District Superintendents and six Administrative Assistants; we still have the opportunity to be better together.
He referenced Romans 8:38-39, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rev. Weeden then shared five high-level reflections he has had:
High level reflections:
- “We need to focus on relationships more than programs. We are in an epidemic of loneliness. Imagine covenant groups, bands, small groups for those who are curious. Imagining communities not just sanctuaries and fellowship halls, but community centers, diners, and outdoor places…reaching new people to the hope of the gospel. Remember the value of our Connection---we are better together! I think when Paul is writing about the diversity of the church, he may be referring to a group of churches—collaborate with churches down the road, across town around the valley, etc.
- Expand our sense of grace and forgiveness. A lot of us are still tired from the aftermath of COVID. Get out of the hamster wheel and just accept others with grace. “Wouldn’t that widen our spiritual margins?” Rev. Weeden asked.
- Learn new technology so that we can work better together and be better connected with each other. “We know we can experience community online. We know that we can work together online…so let’s lean into this,” Rev. Weeden recommended.
- Embrace diversity. “There are followers of Jesus Christ who do not talk like me or look like me who have been under-resourced and sometimes marginalized…we can learn from them. We need to embrace and invest in these communities so that our community on earth looks like our community in heaven, “Rev. Weeded expressed.
- Trust in God. Continue to let the main thing be the main thing despite our disagreements.
Rev. Weeden concluded his report by thanking the Rev. Nola Anderson, the Rev. Abel Roy, and the Rev. Ted Anderson for their service as they complete the terms. He said, “Your diligence and spiritual depth will continue to touch us in the years to come.”
Bishop Héctor said, “I am highly encouraged that we will not only move forward but continue to explore new ways to work together.”