To the South Georgia Conference:
Thank you for your prayers for me and for the Cabinet as we fulfill our responsibilities in the appointment making process. As I said in the recent appointment process video, our goal is to seek appointments that best enable our local churches and our clergy to be Alive Together in Christ.
While consultation has been going on with churches and pastors, I have also been in consultation with the members of the cabinet regarding their appointments. In recent months we have been introducing a strategic planning process known as Appreciative Inquiry. This process focuses on identifying where we are Alive in Christ, dreaming of where we want to be more alive, and then designing steps to move in that direction. The process is working! The cabinet has embraced and encouraged this process.
After consulting with each district superintendent regarding his/her appointment for the coming year I am happy to report that the current district superintendents will be reappointed to serve in their respective districts. This will help us continue to move forward in the new strategic planning process. I thank the district superintendents for their continuing service.
The consultation process also involved the Director of Connectional Ministries, Rev. Denise Walton. Denise has used the consultation process for prayerful discernment. In describing the result of this process she says, “Over the past several months, I have been in deep contemplative prayer and have felt a renewed sense of God’s call. A medical diagnosis with my eyes has changed the course of my ministry. While I am still very healthy and the eye disease is under control, it is no longer advisable or safe for me to travel excessively. Bishop Lawson Bryan and the appointive cabinet have been so supportive of my decision to return to the local church. I have served cross-cultural assignments as an associate pastor, chaplain at the Methodist Home, associate director of connectional ministries, senior pastor, district superintendent and currently assistant to the bishop for connectional ministries. I feel a great sense of love and appreciation for all the opportunities to serve and I look forward to returning to the local church.”
I am grateful for all that Denise has done for me, for the cabinet, and for the conference. We join her in seeking to discern the local church appointment that will best utilize her gifts and experience.
Chaplain (Colonel) J. Maddox Woodbery, Jr., will be appointed to serve as Interim Director of Connectional Ministries for the coming conference year. Matt, as he is best known, is retiring from the Army after serving for 29 years as an extension minister representing the South Georgia Conference and The United Methodist Church. During that time he has remained closely connected to the conference as evidenced by his years of service on the Board of Ordained Ministry of our conference. He also worked closely with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry through the United Methodist Endorsing Agency gaining experience and insights to the larger connectional church. Matt’s experience includes: strategic planning, leadership development, and organizational transformation. For many years he has been given increasing responsibility for a large number of chaplains who are ministering to thousands of American soldiers all over the world. His work has focused on team building, training, and alignment of resources.
Matt’s widespread pastoral experience and his deep background in strategic planning have equipped him for this very time. The role of the Office of Connectional Ministries is to “focus and guide the ministry and mission of the annual conference” by ensuring the alignment of all resources to achieve our vision. We have clarity when it comes to our vision: Alive Together in Christ.
Now it is time to ask about alignment with that vision. Over the coming conference year Matt will be working with the Connectional Ministry staff and all others in the annual conference to identify those areas where we are already aligned with our vision and those areas in which we can be better aligned. Once we have that big picture we will make strategic decisions to benefit our annual conference as we continue to be Alive Together in Christ. Aligning the resources of the annual conference to fulfill the vision is one of the key responsibilities of the Office of Connectional Ministries. I thank Matt for the leadership he will be giving in this area over the coming year. It will be good to have Matt and Carol at home in South Georgia.
I covet your prayers as the Cabinet and I meet this week to continue the appointment making process.
Alive Together in Christ,