By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Mississippi Conference Senior Communications Specialist
Photo right: Van Ross is the director of annual conference relationships at Discipleship Ministries. The Mississippi Conference is one 23 annual conferences assigned to him.
Photo bottom right: Pictured left to right, Rev. Timothy Thompson, Van Ross (center) and Rev. Larry Hilliard.
Van Ross, the director of annual conference relationships at Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church met in Jackson last month with Mississippi Conference leaders. His purpose was to find out how the agency he represents can assist the conference in building systems of discipleship for vitality in congregations.
"We want to help conferences help local churches build disciples of Christ," said Ross.
After spending one day with Rev. Timothy Thompson, administrative assistant to the bishop for faith community formation and Rev. Larry Hilliard, director of spiritual leadership, Ross stated he was impressed with Mississippi's structure because it aligns with the resources offered through his office. The Mississippi Conference is already consulting with the Path 1 agency through Discipleship Ministries to create new places for new people.
As for helping Mississippi fulfill the shared dream of making world-changing disciples, Ross explained that Discipleship Ministries stands equipped to connect Mississippi leaders with training and networking that support spiritual formation, new church development, and revitalization of local churches.
"Mississippi can be a strong model as to what the disciple life can mean and can do across the church," explained Ross.
He also noted that Mississippi leaders placing laity and clergy in advisory roles and focusing attention on the small membership churches were extraordinary moves. Ross said his next step was to submit a report to his supervisor that would help determine how Discipleship Ministries can support the Mississippi Conference.