Spirit Alive: It's Been Quite a Year
Spirit Alive: It's Been Quite a Year
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
June 28, 2016
With Heart, Soul, and Mind:
What in the World Does a Mission and Ministry Coordinator Do?"The most powerful work is done in response to an opportunity not in response to a problem."
Peter Block, consulting guru and author
It is hard to believe that I've been in the role of Mission and Ministry Coordinator (MMC) for nearly a year. During this time, I have appreciated your prayers, input, and interactions. It was also good to talk with so many of you at annual conference...and to receive your emails throughout the year. Thank you. Your interest and support makes my work possible, and serving in this position has proven to be a great opportunity. But what has the MMC role really meant in the life of the annual conference?
When we eliminated the position of Director of Connectional Ministries in 2011, the annual conference lost an important role in the life of the church. We lost having someone to help connect the various parts of what we do as individual congregations to the greater whole that we are a part of as United Methodists, so that we can learn and grow in ministry together. Specifically...Who is doing innovative work among us? What are the cutting edges that we need to pay attention to? How can we better maximize our individual efforts in collective ways? How do we multiply what we are doing well? These are important questions to consider as we grow into the next generation of being church in this region. We simply have to learn from each others' creativity and feed off each others' energy if we are to remain relevant to people's lives in the coming years.
In Methodism, we often talk about "connectionalism" as a fundamental part of our tradition, but I'd like for us to consider another, similar concept: Confluence.
Confluence is defined as being the place where two or more streams flow together. It is also defined as a point of juncture...or a place of gathering together into a common flow.
To date, there have been four distinct areas that have been the focus of my attention thus far:
First, as MMC I try to serve as a catalyst (adding what I can as appropriate) in relationship to several important projects, including: (1) University Park UMC, along with their partner St. Johns Community Church, and their effort to build 26 units of affordable housing in North Portland. This effort, thanks to the determination of the UPUMC congregation and Pastor Julia Nielsen, will help us address a significant crisis in the Portland Metro area-- affordable housing. The University Park project also takes our annual conference Board of Trustees in a new direction, as they join in partnership to make this dream a reality; and (2) we are expanding our Hispanic Ministry work by starting an Hispanic New Ministry Start in Salem through the United Methodist Ministry of Salem-Keizer (UMMSK). This ministry would not be possible without the leadership of Rev. Dan Pitney, from Salem First UMC, and all the other pastors and congregations that are a part of this growing cooperative ministry. This new project represents our second Hispanic ministry to emerge in the past three years within the annual conference. Again, the work of a position such as Mission and Ministry Coordinator gives us a greater capacity to live into these kinds of new ministries.
Some of the work I've been involved in deals with connecting the edges to the center. I've tried to do this to some extent by producing local church "signs of life" video recordings regularly in Spirit Alive.
We still have much work to do to help the annual conference better serve the emerging mission and ministry needs arising in our local communities. I am very interested in being in conversation with you about how to better do this! I will be working with others to do a "connectional system audit" to see how we are currently positioned to connect our annual conference work with local churches...and I hope to create an Annual Conference Mission and Ministry resource document to share with you by the 2017 Combined Pacific NW/Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.
Finally, sometimes my time simply involves being present in places where having someone who has the words mission and ministry in their job title can make a difference in how we advance our common work. This happens at the general and jurisdictional level as well as at the local church level.
In whatever capacity, it is critical that the role of the Mission and Ministry Coordinator help us advance the innovative things we are doing as a church, so that together we can grow in ministry and discipleship and fulfill our mission.
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the (people) to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
Antoine de St. Exupery
Blessings on your journey,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.
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