By Rev. Dr. Connie Shelton, Director of Connectional Ministries and Communications
Photo right: Belinda Harvey of Mount Pleasant UMC in Gulfport (standing) offered a devotion using Lifesavers as an illustration.
The Mississippi Annual Conference -- empowered by love, generosity, justice and apprenticeship -- forms spiritual leaders, faith communities and connections so more disciples of Jesus Christ transform the world.
Vital Congregations Committee, the newly formed discernment body, met recently reflecting on the effectiveness and oneness of Mississippi Annual conference churches, ministries and committees. The role of the Vital Congregations Committee is to recommend future direction and/or improvement for the annual conference, review charge conference data from local churches and reflect on local church's goals and focus for 2015.
The committee also engaged how the annual conference is funded in a discussion with David Stotts, conference treasurer, director of finance and administration and conference benefits officer. A round table with several district superintendents heightened awareness of the changing role of the superintendent to chief missional strategist. The committee is convened by the director of connectional ministries, the Rev. Dr. Connie Shelton and is resourced by Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. and conference lay leader, Timothy Crisler.
All nine vital congregations were present for the recent third meeting of this discernment body. The nine vital congregations are divided into three rotating classes (two, three and four year).
The committee seeks to keep the conference focused on long-term, big picture items like living into the conference purpose (including the Core Values). This body is a departure from the former Connectional Leadership Team and other governing structures in that it seeks to represent the needs and interests of the local church in a wide diversity of ministry contexts rather than conference roles.