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On the heart of your Bishop - May 2013

May 06, 2013


Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  

We need help.

No human being grows well without help!

Who does not need God?

Who does not need Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, a coach, mentor, guide, friend, or consultant?

A new role for District Superintendents

The District Superintendent’s role is changing. The change is due in part to our concentrated effort on making disciples as well as our young history of having the Resident Bishop live in the area rather than in North Georgia.

During times when the Bishop lived outside of the area, district superintendents had more freedom, flexibility and power to operate individually and independently.

This eventually gave way to expediting certain aspects of the responsibilities of a district superintendent and resulted in less individual contact with each pastor and pastor parish relations committee. Charge conferences, appointment making and troubleshooting became the primary responsibilities. Thus, less time was spent meeting and creating a system that included all of the pastors and congregations.

Before South Georgia became an area, certain aspects of training and developing models for discipleship were left un-nurtured or left to the initiation of each district superintendent. District Conferences disappeared in many districts because the purpose and mission for having such a conference was forgotten.

New plan

The South Georgia Conference formerly began in 1988. With 117 years of history, the South Georgia Conference has had its own bishop (Looney, Watson and King) for only 24 years. The new plan reflects the historical change of the South Georgia Conference with its own Resident Bishop and differs from the role in prior times. 

What’s new?

1.     A sincere and intentional desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

2.      A plan to make disciples based on the timeless values of faith. Every congregation has been asked to develop a congregational disciple plan and every believer to develop an individual disciple plan.  

3.     We have moved from forms indicating the wellness of congregations and pastors regarding appointment making to personalized and individual contact with each pastor and pastor parish committee. The goal is to get a more accurate reading of the true spiritual and emotional status of the pastor and congregation. A more personalized approach also provides opportunities for teaching and interpreting the United Methodist connection.

4.     We are emphasizing individual Charge Conferences. In addition to receiving reports, we are beginning to focus on celebrating the ministries of the church. We are also:

·      teaching by highlighting values of faith;

·      checking the status of disciple plans;

·      and encouraging pastors and congregations to support the United Methodist connection.

5.     We are expecting each district superintendent to develop clergy-lay teams in each district to assist in planning, developing and empowering clergy and laity to participate in systems of encouragement, support and learning opportunities. Each district will be asked to develop a comprehensive disciple plan.

6.     Each district is expected to organize into clusters.


District Superintendents are being asked to assist the bishop by supporting a loving accountability system, particularly in the area of stewardship.

Pastors and congregations will be asked to support apportionments at 100% or create a correction plan.

Each district is being asked to organize into clusters for clergy and laity in order to establish learning opportunities. 

The idea is to move from an environment of competition to a culture of love, learning, support and empowerment.                  

A return to District Conferences with multiple emphases:

a.    Worship.  Worship that includes a variety of preaching styles and various musical expressions from the district.

b.    Acknowledge effective ministry achievements. Acknowledge and affirm 5-Star Congregations and other effective ministry achievements.

c.     Annual Conference Preparation. Provide support and assistance for clergy and lay members as they prepare for the South Georgia Annual Conference session each year.

d.    Sharing Opportunities. Provide a creative and encouraging fair-like environment where congregants can share their display for effective ministries.

When the mission is clear, a team willing to work together in order to accomplish the goals is needed. The clergy serving on the cabinet have been effective pastors. However, the implication for the new role of a District Superintendent presents new challenges.

  1.  A bishop is usually assigned to a new area rather than the one in which they have served. It takes time to learn the personnel of a new annual conference.
  1. Recommendations of potential District Superintendents would not necessarily take into consideration the openness of a clergy to be willing or committed to serve as a district superintendent in a way that has not been familiar to the history of the conference.
  1. Every effective pastor does not necessarily make for an effective District Superintendent. Some may find it difficult to support their new roles, because district superintendents join the bishop in supervising. The experience can be more isolating and stressful with fewer accolades than the pastoral role.
  1.  Sometimes matters of confidentiality can affect the tenure of District Superintendents.

In summary, the role of district superintendent is changing. The new role requires more of a team effort, a willingness to engage clergy and laity for affirmation, training, empowerment and accountability. I am expecting more from our district superintendents as we take serious steps toward growing a Christlike world.

Note: I am still working on improving my communication with all of you. I am in the process of changing one blog to; the other blog,, remains the same.

For a faster response when communicating with me by email, use

Until next time, remember – God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest. 

Growing a Christlike World

With love,

Your Bishop,

James R. King, Jr.


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