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A word from Bishop Bryan: My reflections on a recent joint meeting

September 24, 2018
The Appointive Cabinet and the Compass Group met together September 10, 2018, at Wesley Glen Ministries in Macon for a collaborative session focusing on the many initiatives they are jointly sponsoring for the South Georgia Conference.  

This meeting means a great deal to me because it represents the culmination of two years of work in team building among the members of both groups. We have such talented, devoted disciples of Christ on our conference staff. My personal mission has been to create an environment where each person’s strengths are recognized, affirmed, and utilized so that we truly are Alive Together in Christ. 

The Compass Group is composed of the five ministry area directors –  Administrative Services (Derek McAleer), Communications (Kelly Roberson), Congregational Development (Jay Hanson), Connectional Ministries (Nita Crump), Ministerial Services (Jay Harris) – along with the Dean of the Cabinet (Henry Bass) and my Administrative Assistant (Bobbi Googe).

The Appointive Cabinet includes the six district superintendents (Henry Bass, Buddy Cooper, Rick Lanford, Chris Ramsey, Doreen Smalls, and David Thompson) and the Directors of Ministerial Services and Connectional Ministries (Jay Harris and Nita Crump).
For two years we have built this leadership team using Appreciative Inquiry. We asked ourselves these questions: Where are we alive? Where is God calling us to be more alive? What steps are we taking to get there? Who else needs to be at the table with us? How will we know when we get there?
We have also spent time studying each others’ strengths using the StrengthsFinder assessment. We have shared with each other our strengths, our weaknesses, what we can offer, what we need, and more. This has been an invaluable tool as we build deeper relationships and trust. 
As I reflect on our September 10 meeting, I realize that we have made progress. There was energy growing out of trust, respect, and the freedom to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. For the entire South Georgia Conference the benefits of this collaborative leadership include synergy, increased creativity, unity of effort, innovation, and spiritual vitality. 

It’s exhilarating to see what is happening. I look forward to the next two years! I hope you can sense my joy and gratitude as you read the following reflections.

During our time together, we focused on the following agenda items:
  • Review of progress on our three WIGs (Wildly Important Goals): 
    • Increasing worship attendance
    • Leadership development for laity and clergy
    • Hope-filled churches bringing hope to their communities
  • Celebration of the two dozen South Georgia clergy who recently participated in the new Clergy Financial Literacy Academy developed by the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.
  • An updated report on the successful launch of the Increased Impact pilot project for pastors and five laity from each church involved.
  • Information about the Bishop’s Emerging Leadership Initiative for clergy (a Lilly grant proposal from three conferences: South Georgia, Kentucky, and Western North Carolina).
  • Recent continuing education event for District Administrative Assistants.
  • The newly developed certification program for Certified Lay Ministers.
  • The new dashboard to facilitate the work of District Committees on Ministry.
  • My request for five laity under 40 years of age to be among the at-large delegates from each district at the 2019 annual conference session.
  • Celebrated the 30 pastors and churches that have been led in OnBoarding by Allison Lindsey and Jay Hanson.
  • Progress reports from task forces on our Undocumented Neighbors and on Multicultural Competency and on the Spiritual Growth resolution from annual conference.
I also shared with the group about the recent New Conference Center Committee meeting, which was held on the campus of Wesleyan College adjacent to the land where our building will be constructed.

During the Conference Center meeting, I took the group to the dining hall for lunch, where we were able to interact with college students. While we were eating a student approached our table, introduced herself and said, “I am a senior and I plan to go to seminary next year. I want to be a deacon. Tell me about your conference.”

How exciting! I reminded the group that this is exactly the kind of conversation that can occur regularly once we are permanently located on the campus of Wesleyan College. We are only $250,000 dollars away from groundbreaking, and I am actively meeting with potential donors. If you have a potential donor you could introduce me to I would be happy to set up a time to meet with them.

Finally, I am asking Jay Hanson and Nita Crump to continue leading our visioning toward an Innovation Center to be located in the Connectional Ministries building at Epworth By The Sea.

In addition to separate monthly meetings, the Cabinet and the Compass Group will continue to meet together regularly.

I am thankful to our leadership in the South Georgia Conference and their devotion to continue to find fresh ways of being Alive Together in Christ.

Alive Together in the World,
Lawson Bryan

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