By Jasmine Haynes
The extended cabinet of the Mississippi United Methodist Conference started the New Year strong by holding a meeting on Thursday, January 3 in Jackson. Cabinet members convened to discuss the state of the conference and opportunities for growth.
A primary goal of this gathering was to create a sense of togetherness. "We want to define ways that can help local congregations and pastors understand that we are partners in ministry with them and that we are not adversaries," said James E. Swanson, Sr., Bishop of the Mississippi United Methodist Conference.
The group discussed goals and strategies of prioritizing stewardship and evangelism. Seashore District Superintendent, Rev. Heather Hensarling said that she was excited to take those initiatives back to her district. "We're being held accountable for our extravagant generosity or lack thereof and we are being encouraged to have some real serious teaching time with our clergy and our laity about what it means to be generous," said Rev. Hensarling.
Conference Lay Leader, Tim Crisler was present for the extended cabinet assembly. Crisler said that it is important that Bishop Swanson and the cabinet hear what laity is experiencing at the local church level. He also shared his enthusiasm for Bishop Swanson's vision for the Mississippi United Methodist Conference and that he would take a very direct message back to the laity and local churches. "All laity need to be geared up and open-minded to come and receive a new vision and era in the way we do church here in Mississippi," said Crisler.
Bishop Swanson discussed the following four visions with the extended cabinet: (1) practical vision- seeing what is demanded of you and seeing how to get it done, (2) curiosity vision- exploring why things are the way they are and why they should or should not remain that way, (3) aesthetic vision- seeing the loveliness in everything everywhere, and (4) creative vision- which is being able to see infinite possibilities.
Mississippi United Methodists can expect to hear more details of Bishop Swanson's vision during the Mississippi Annual Conference June 6-9, 2013.