I had the opportunity to attend the February 21st meeting of the Conference Table at our Conference Center in Lakeland. Representatives from many Florida Conference ministries were there. Rev. Debbie McLeod and Chuck Mallue co-chaired the day. Rev. Alex Shanks, Pastor at First Coral Springs, discussed the current work and objectives of the Strategic Leadership Team, including Fresh Expressions, the Nehemiah Project, Economically Challenged Churches, New Church Development, as well as some other items under Finance and Administration. Rev. Dan Jackson, Director of New Church Development, helped with questions in that area. Craig Smelser, Controller for the Florida Conference, was also there to help us understand budget issues.
Fresh Expressions and the Nehemiah Project both interested me immensely. Fresh Expressions tries to look for ministry venues outside the traditional church setting. In a few years, we may all be in home churches, parks, coffee shops—you name it. Fresh Expressions can help show us new experiments here in Florida and elsewhere; what works, what doesn’t, and get our imaginations to percolating! The Nehemiah Project involves ministry with older “legacy” churches, where assistance is given to help turn them around into vital congregations, or to plan otherwise for the future.
Bishop Carter attended and seemed to really enjoy the open sharing and exchange. He talked with us about his views on the future of the church, as well as a covenant to be developed on the voting process for this year’s GC and Jurisdictional delegate elections. A team would help write this to reflect our diversity of ethnicity, gender, age and theological viewpoints. Projection of the covenant and of delegates elected so far would be broadcast silently before each ballot.
All in all, I found this Conference Table meeting to be a very positive day.