UNY Leadership works toward increasing vitality in a new season
The 2020 virtual Annual Conference, held on Oct. 3, opened with the leadership report.
Via video, the Rev. Drew Sperry, Pastor at Calvary: Latham UMC, member of the Conference Leadership team and the member of the Bishop’s Operational Team, introduced the report.
Rev. Sperry said, “One thing I think you’ll witness throughout this report is God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to God and one another during one of the most challenging seasons of ministries any of us have lived through.”
Conference Lay Leader, the Rev. Susan Hardy spoke about how “God’s loving hand continues to be with each of us.” Bringing up the Annual Conference 2020 theme, “Together in Prayer: Courageously sharing God’s story,” Rev. Hardy said, “Is there any other season in our lives when we have been so powerfully united in prayer…I believe such unity in Christ Jesus empowered us with hope!”
Rev. Hardy suggests that it is a time to celebrate how the laity partnered with pastoral leaders to find new ways to worship.
The Rev. Scott Johnson, a member of the Bishop’s Operational Team, reminded the Conference that the Bishop’s Operational Team and the Conference Leadership Team are developing strategies to attain the goal of having 50 percent of the churches and faith communities in Upper New York to be highly vital by 2025. He mentioned how the Conference initiative of “Discover, Develop, and Deploy Christ-following leaders” has been created to measure vitality and that operational teams are being created at the regional level to help with this initiative.
The Rev. Nola Anderson, Dean of the Cabinet and District Superintendent in the Lakes Region expanded on Rev. Johnson’s discussion of increasing vitality, explaining how the pandemic can not set us back. She said, “During this season of COVID-19, we are reminded that we are living in an evolving world and we need to remain functional. We are learning that we cannot lead just by being strategic, but we need leaders who are ready to evolve. With all the unknowns and uncertainties this season presents, there is a need to strengthen our ‘why’ to create disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The Rev. Dave Masland, UNY Director of New Faith communities explained that New Faith Communities are growing even amidst the pandemic. He discussed how launchpads were effectively held virtually over 12 weeks this past summer. He said, “My friends, in every case, our New Faith Communities and new churches are working on the same thing that every church is asked to do; they are all building stronger, more fruitful disciple-making pathways.”
Rev. Masland explained that we can expect to see more New Faith Communities in the days to come, first online and then in person. He ended his portion of the report by asking listeners to consider planting a New Faith Community in their neighborhoods.”
The Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding focused first on Camp & Retreat Ministries, explaining that not only have the sites lost a ministry opportunity during the pandemic, but also have lost over a million dollars in revenue. He explained that if not for the Manna in the Wilderness campaign, the sites may not have been able to continue. Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding said that the camp and retreat centers are now able to accommodate groups using the strictest safety measures and are planning to be able to host summer camps in 2021.
The Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding then discussed the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, explain that the Imagine No Race 2.0 course will be starting this fall. Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding said, “This is important work; this is urgent work particularly for white folks like me. We need to be engaged in this work right now.”
Rev. Sperry ended the leadership report; he said, “May God continue to bless us and work through us as we continue to leader the Upper New York Conference into new seasons of sharing the gospel.”