Dear Pastors and Local Churches,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  I pray this letter finds you well, and that you are enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to earth to bring us!

I write to you today about our upcoming Church Conference season.  I prefer to make these “Church Conferences” to encourage the participation of all the members.  Included with this email are the attachments that will open all of the forms required to complete your Church Conference reports.  ***PLEASE USE THESE FORMS, CREATED JUST FOR OUR DISTRICT, AND DO NOT USE THE FORMS ON THE CONFERENCE WEBSITE.  Please note that we have worked in our office to simplify and streamline this process and eliminate unnecessary forms.

Again, this year we are not asking for the Pastor’s Report at Church Conference.  Instead, this report will be due with your Report Day Reports.  This will eliminate having to duplicate work on membership reporting – once in the fall and again at year end – and it will make these annual, calendar-year reports.  Also, we are not asking for the SPRC Clergy Assessment piece at this time.  These will be sent to the pastors and SPRC chairpersons at a later date and will be due back in my office by December 1st.  We eliminated the Clergy Self-Assessment piece altogether.  Also, we understand that you may not have your 2018 budgets ready in time for your Church Conference, so please just send those in as soon as you have them completed.

The Conference and District Apportionment Statement of Commitment form is to be signed by the pastor and finance chairperson.

We will do our best to work with you, and most of you know that Anna and Lonna are always willing to help you any way they can.  But I am asking you to help them as well – PLEASE BE SURE TO HAVE ALL OF YOUR CHURCH CONFERENCE FORMS PROPERLY COMPLETED AND SIGNED AND INTO LONNA’S OFFICE AT LEAST ONE MONTH PRIOR TO YOUR CHURCH CONFERENCE!

I am asking this year for ONE written report from each congregation (preferably by the Lay Leader, or another key layperson, but otherwise by the Pastor or Lay Minister) sharing a brief overview of the previous year of ministry of the church. I will have more details on what to include in this report after the cabinet has met with Bishop Jones this month.

For the cluster Church Conferences, because of time constraints, I am asking for a brief oral report (less than 5 minutes) from a key layperson (again, preferably the Lay Leader) – highlighting one particular ministry or aspect of their congregation that captures the essence of your church’s love for God and love for neighbor, and sharing one thing you are planning for 2018 to make disciples of Christ or to make a real difference in the lives of others in the love of Christ.

For the larger churches (over 200 in worship), with your solo Church Conferences, we will have more time for this.  So, pastors, please utilize your key lay leadership to share the story of your congregation’s past year.  Again, I really want this to be a celebration of ministry mission for Christ!  So, please use your imagination and make it meaningful and fun!

Again, the focus is on celebrating what God is doing in and through your church to make a difference in the lives of people in your community and the world!

Thank you for all you do to share the love and grace of Christ!  It is an honor to serve with you all!

And if you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, feedback, etc., please let me hear from you!

Yours in Christ,