During the January meeting of the Regional Council, the Council approved the formation of a committee to discuss and discern restructure for the Southwest Region. Area Moderators and Representatives from all eight Areas within the Southwest Region were present for the Southwest Regional Restructure Dialogue that took place March 10-11, 2017. In addition to Area Moderators and Representatives, the members of the Southwest Region Executive Council and the Regional Council Representatives from Texas Christian Missionary Fellowship and The Hispanic Convention were invited to attend.
The Southwest Regional Restructure Dialogue Group spent Friday evening assessing the successes and struggles of ministry within individual Areas and the Region as a whole. Area Moderators shared reasons for celebration, reflecting on successful programming, meaningful education opportunities, commissioning and ordaining passionate clergy, and finding viable solutions within the changing landscape of ministry. The representatives from each of the Areas and the Region were able to lift up examples and models of success within their respective and shared ministries.
And too, each moderator and representative was also able to identify areas of struggle, decline, and concern. As Area representatives outlined these growing edges and problems within their Areas, common themes emerged.
Geographical constraints plague each Area. Some Areas struggle to create community between churches due to the long distances between congregations.
Physical distance also compounds the difficulty local congregations have connecting with their Area staff and officers. Even in Areas where churches are much closer together, the density of congregations creates issues regarding Area support and presence.
Each Area expressed concerns about finances, recognizing that even those Areas currently projecting financial health are looking at decreased giving.
Each of the problems outlined by Area representatives seemed to be a direct consequence or outgrowth of a Regional structure that is no longer meeting the needs of congregations.
As those present considered these signs of struggle, decline, and concern, we prayerfully asked an important question: “Do you believe that some alternative structural arrangement - undefined at this time - has the potential to improve ministry support within the limitations of available resources? For your Area, is it time to consider a different relationship or structure with the Region for the sake of providing effective ministry support?
The answer to these yoked questions was a unanimous yes. From this yes, the Area and Region representatives determined that the next steps the Region must take will involve discerning a new structure for the Southwest Region that will strengthen the support our local congregations receive, renew the relationships between congregations and the larger church, and make effective local ministry the priority for our future growth. The decision to begin dreaming and discerning ways to restructure the Region is at this time simply that - dreaming and discerning. There are not yet specific details, well-laid plans, or well-worded designs. However, there will be. And there is an earnest desire to deepen our conversations, widen our reach, and to prayerfully listen and boldly follow where the Spirit is leading us so that God’s will and work might be done.
This group will be meeting again in April 28-29 to continue this important and faithful work.
Other Opportunities for Pastors and Lay Leaders
Here is information about an upcoming continuing education opportunity for clergy and other church leaders that Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is holding in Phoenix, Arizona, May 8-12, focusing on conflict transformation. Members of the Christian Church in the Southwest are invited to attend. The deadline for a $200 discount to Mediation Skills Training Institute (see details below) has been extended to Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
This five-day training is intended to equip church leaders with skills for conflict transformation and mediation, which can be applied to conflict in congregations, organizations, and families. It includes lectures, discussion, and guided practice in role plays, and is designed to be active and practical in focus. The sessions emphasize hands-on skills training and real-life role-plays, based on the kinds of conflicts faced by participants. This training is useful for pastors, lay leaders, judicatory staff, and people who serve with church ministries.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Here’s some information about this summer’s ADM Conference and its combining with the Church’s General Assembly that we hope you find interesting and helpful. Additional information will be forthcoming in our newsletters or on our website,www.adm-doc.org, but in the meantime, make your plans to be with your ADM family this summer and register for the GA athttp://ga.disciples.org/schedule.