I Speak in Favor of One Conference in Nebraska and Kansas #kwc12 #gpgp

English: , located on west side of just north ...
English: , located on west side of just north of the Nebraska-Kansas border in southern . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was my first time to speak on the floor of annual conference. While it was not exactly what came out, this is what I prepared:

My name is Andrew Conard. I am a clergy member of the annual conference.

I am currently serving at Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area and will begin serving at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado beginning July 1.

I speak in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

Since its statehood more than 150 years ago, Kansas has been a place of action, a place where people could rally around a cause. Whether it was the abolition of slavery, settling the untamed prairie or recovering from disaster, Kansans mobilized around the cause and demonstrated great leadership abilities.

This is the time to demonstrate leadership in the United Methodist Church on the Great Plains. The annual conference exists to equip the local church for ministry. Becoming one annual conference in Kansas and Nebraska creates the best opportunity for the conference to fulfill its purpose on the Great Plains so that all of our local churches can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Since I was first appointed to serve in Kansas in 2006, I have prayed every week for three things: the mission and vision of the local church where I serve, renewal within the United Methodist Church and spiritual revival across the state. I believe that forming the Great Plains Annual Conference is the next faithful step in our life together of living God’s dream for us as United Methodists in Nebraska and Kansas.

Members of my family are active in the United Methodist churches in Norwich, Plains, Sterling, Burdett and First-Hutchinson. My father is a United Methodist pastor and his father was a United Methodist pastor. The Kansas West Annual Conference is my home.

The month before we began to serve under appointment in Kansas, my wife and I were driving to Colorado on our honeymoon and we made a point to visit two of the churches where my granddad was appointed – the United Methodist Churches in Tribune and Towner on the Kansas / Colorado border. It was a blessing to step into those sacred spaces. I am proud of the United Methodist lay and clergy people who have come before me and been a part of faithful and fruitful ministry all across this Annual Conference for decades. This annual conference is part of who I am.

The Great Plains Annual Conference will be a change. There is no way around it. I believe that this change is the next faithful step in our life together as United Methodists on the Great Plains. I pray that we will continue together in faithful and fruitful ministry.

One hundred years from now, I want the people of the United Methodist Church in Nebraska and Kansas to look back and remember 2012 as a milestone in our lives together when courageous United Methodist took action that fanned the flames of spiritual revival across the Great Plains.

I urge you to vote in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

Institute: What’s the Point? (5 of 5)

I spent last week at a youth camp, Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.

I am unable to deny that there are some positive outcomes to Institute. I was still left with the question, What’s the point? It could have been:

  • Provide a safe place for students
  • Offer freely given love as part of a Christian community
  • Create a place where people are always accepted
  • Meet new people
  • Move forward on the journey of becoming a deeply committed Christian.
  • Have fun and play games
  • Create a culture of hearing God’s call to ministry

After a week, I am not sure what is the driving purpose of Institute. Those who come to camp become part of the leadership team that plans the next year. Students come year after year. Adults come to serve because they came when they were young. It has been going for 99 years…

I gained some additional insight from Notes on Camp and commend it to you as a great listen and insight into summer camp of all sorts.

Institute: Real Life Outcomes (4 of 5)

I spent last week at a youth camp, Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.

I have a tendency, for good and bad, to focus on the outcomes of projects, events or ministry areas to which I commit my time. The outcomes of Institute seem to be a mixed bag for me. This year there were clearly students whose lives were changed by their experience of God at camp. This is an undeniable outcome that is difficult to dispute. If even one life is changed or one student decides to follow Jesus, is not the entire effort worth it? Maybe so… I cannot deny that God is at work through Institute. At the same time, I believe that with changes the week could be more meaningful for a greater number of students with lower anxiety for leaders, student and adult.

What about your local church? What are the outcomes of the projects, events or ministry areas? Is there good as well as bad that is accomplished through the work of the community?

Institut(ion): In Every Sense of the Word (3 of 5)

I spent last week at a youth camp, Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.

Institute is an institution with the good and the bad that it brings. There are rich traditions and a history that brings the past to light and looks to the future. Many of the adult leaders at camp this summer remember an experience of the very same camp when they were young. One of the pastors among the adult leaders remembers feeling first called to ministry in the very place where we had morning worship during the week. However, the rich history has the side effect of narrowing the vision of what could be possible for a camp among the high school students of the Kansas East Conference. There are some practices that are clearly leftovers from time gone by and while faithful have ceased to be relevant.

What about in your local church? How has the past shaped who the community is today? In what ways does the history shape both the present and the future?

Institute 2010: God’s All Stars

Today begins my first experience of Kansas East Youth Institute. From a promotional poster:

For almost 100 years, young people have come to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., to attend United Methodist Youth Institute. Institute is a tradition of the Kansas East Conference Council on Youth Ministry. Institute is a unique week of spiritual formation and discipleship for senior high youth. At Institute, youth are taught to both receive and give care as taught by Jesus Christ.

Youth who have completed the eighth grade through graduating high school seniors are eligible to attend Institute.

The 2010 summer theme is “God’s All-Stars.” The Institute Vision Team selected this theme with you in mind. We will consider how people whom God calls upon for leadership are often a different type of All-Star than those the rest of the world calls upon for leadership.

Here goes something…

Kansas East Annual Conference – #kseumc

Resurrection is hosting the Kansas East Annual Conference. While I am a full elder in the Kansas West Annual Conference, I am currently serving a church located in the East. I care a great deal about spiritual revival across the state of Kansas and pray for that every day that I come to church.

Resurrection Online is hosting the stream of the worship services and plenary speakers. You can find the stream live at http://kansaseast.org/stream.

Happy Conferencing!

Choosing Excellence: A Life of Intentional Ministry

This is the theme for the 2010 Kansas Area Professional Ministry Seminar this week in Wichita, KS. From the website:

“Choosing Excellence: A Life of Intentional Ministry” is the theme of the 2010 Kansas Area Professional Ministry Seminar.

Dr. Paul Nixon, author of “I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church,” will speak on excellence in church leadership.

Rev. Susanna Southard, Phillips Theological Seminary instructor, will speak on excellence in Biblical exegesis and study.

I am excited to be part of this event for several reasons:

  • It is an excellent continuing education event.
  • It provides an opportunity for people from both Kansas West and Kansas East to be together. This does not currently happen very often.
  • The shared experience contributes to renewal across the state.

Kansas clergy – Why did you choose to attend or not attend this event?

I do[n’t] care.

My life would be easier if I didn’t care as much.

  • If it didn’t matter to me if people changed their lives and became followers of Jesus Christ…
  • If I didn’t care about the future of the United Methodist Church.
  • If the possibility of revival throughout the state of Kansas did not excite me…
  • If the purpose, vision and journey of the church that I serve did not compel me…

 

But they do.

It does matter.

I do care.

It is exciting.

I am compelled.

I do care and these things matter.

Bishop Jones Said… (2 of 4)

This quote from Bishop Jones came at the Kansas East Residency Retreat in response to a question about what characterizes an effective clergy person.

Effective clergy lead congregations to increasing missional effectiveness.

I really appreciated this answer. I believe it is the right answer for the renewal of the denomination and for encouraging pastors in ways that are helpful.

2009 Kansas East Conference Budget – My Thoughts

First, let me get a few things straight… I am a provisional elder of the Kansas West Annual Conference serving at a church in the Kansas East Annual Conference. I have not had a close look at the budget of the Kansas East conference. I did not have the opportunity to vote on the budget in Kansas East. With that disclosure out of the way…

Here is the situation as far as I am aware – The Kansas East Conference is facing a 10% budget shortfall for 2009. The proposal is that apportionments will be frozen at the level from 2008 and the budget shortfall will be made up with money from the growth grant fund. There is a possibility of a called annual conference on February 14 (believe it) to address the budget, if the mail in vote does not pass.

What is this growth grant money, you may ask. An article from 10/2007 on the Kansas East website gives background on the growth grants.

The Growth Grants is a new program established by the conference as a way to utilize apportionment income from Church of the Resurrection over and above the amount applied to the conference budget to spark revitalization in existing congregations. The conference voted in 2006 to cap any local church’s apportionment contribution to the conference budget at 16 percent of the total conference budget. Funds in excess of 16 percent of the conference budget apportioned to a church are channeled into the Growth Grants program, which is earmarked for funding church revitalization projects in the conference.

Resurrection pays 100% of apportionments every year. To my knowledge, the 2006 proposal was to prevent unhealthy dependence on any particular local church for the budget of the annual conference. Also, it serves to prevent the impression that Resurrection has undue influence on the annual conference as a result of its contribution to the annual budget.

At the Kansas City district clergy gathering this week, I found out more information about the situation. The Kansas City district, minus Resurrection, pays 45 percent of apportionments. If the KC district paid 70 percent of apportionments the budget issue in the conference would be solved.

I believe that using growth grant funds to make up a budget shortfall in the conference is inappropriate.

Using growth grant funds for the annual budget means that Resurrection is subsidizing other churches that do not pay their apportionments. It subverts the original purpose of the 2006 proposal to create growth grants. Once growth grant money has been used for the budget it will be easier to do that in the future.

I believe that the conference needs to realistically align the budget with income while preserving the growth grant fund. I believe that each church not paying 100% of apportionments could reasonably commit to pay an additional 10% each year until 100% pay out is reached.

What do you make of all this?

Myths of the Annual Conference: Communication

I have heard it said that communication is difficult across the annual conference as there are many different ways that people communicate and there is not a single best way to communicate.

I believe that there is a hint of truth here, but that it could be addressed relatively easily.

I propose that both the Kansas West and Kansas East Annual Conferences take seriously the need to communicate and make improvements in the efficiency by which it is done. To that end, I propose that every church in the conference have a computer and high speed internet access. Broadband is spreading across rural areas and could be also facilitated through services like WildBlue. This would level the playing field of communication technology and allow communication to move toward standardizing via email and other electronic means. Will this take time? Yes. But I believe that creating a benchmark of technology for each church could increase communication and over time make things like annual reports much simpler as they could be completed electronically. Not being able to communicate is a myth of the annual conference.

Myths of Annual Conference: Supervision

I am in my third year of ministry as an appointed United Methodist pastor. An important part of my life is that I am a member of the annual conference. The annual conference is a community of those who have been called to a life in ministry within the United Methodist Church in a particular geographic area. It is also an annual business meeting to order our life together.

I have encountered several feelings about life in the annual conference that I believe are myths. One of these myths is that as a clergy person I should be reluctant to share my personal life with colleagues because that person may some day be my supervisor as a District Superintendent one day.

This is complete garbage.

I believe that it is crucial to share my life with colleagues in ministry because the community of the annual conference is one of the most important, perhaps the most important, community of which I am a part as a United Methodist pastor. I do not care if someone may some day be my supervisor. I think that it is even more important for a supervisor to know who I am as a person. Avoiding relationship because of a potential supervisory role in the future is a myth of the annual conference.