A Word from Teresa – 1/17/19

              Over the last couple of months I’ve had the great joy of connecting with many of the district clergy for conversation. To varying degrees, the approaching General Conference in February was one topic of conversation in some of our visits. It is understandable that the called session is heavy on the minds of some clergy and laity while others do not give it much thought. As we know, there are diverse opinions we hold about matters of LGBTQ inclusion and the hopes we have for the outcome of General Conference vary as well. However, a common sentiment I hear in all conversations is something like, “Regardless of what happens, something is going to change.” I think that is true.

                We’ve often heard the joke that we like change as long as we get to make the decision about the change! But on a serious note, how do we as leaders best lead during times of change. I’m currently reading a book entitled Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William and Susan Bridges. (Thank you Wilson Pruitt for the suggestion!) Though I have not yet finished the book, it is already proving useful as I consider what changes might be ahead for us as a denomination, as a conference and district, and as local churches. For example, I am reminded by the authors, “It isn’t the changes that will do you in; it’s the transitions.” 

                Transition work is important work. It involves paying attention to the importance of ending one way of doing things and being attentive to how we begin doing some new well. I think of my dear friend who packed up a son and helped move him to college this summer. The change from having the son living at home as a high schooler to now living on a college campus as a university student is obvious. What my friend and her husband wanted to think through were the details that occurred during the transition. Discernment around little things made a big difference from the meaningful moments such as the intentionality about a farewell dinner to the more practical things like when my friend’s son would begin paying his own car insurance.

                While it is true we cannot predict the future, I want to do all I can to lead the best I can during any future change. One key area I have already been working on is our district committee structure. Some of you have been in these conversations as I’ve shared about the natural overlap between some of our district administrative committees such as District Trustees, Church Location and Building, Church Extension and District Strategy Team. I am grateful for a small group of district leaders who continue to meet with me in an effort to propose a more simplified structure that will position us to move forward with district initiatives in the future. My goal is to have a proposal ready for consideration and approval late this Spring at a District Conference. 

                I continue to be inspired and encouraged by the many vital churches and ministries in the Capital District. Thank you for all you do to share God’s love with a hurting world. I know the challenges we face are hard and can seem overwhelming at times, but God is with us. We are not alone! Thanks be to God!

                What a joy to be your DS!,