By Jessica Connor
What does a healthy church look like in the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church?
This month, the S.C. UMC is kicking off a statewide Bishop’s Road Show to help uncover just that.
Beginning Sept. 6 in the Marion District and wrapping up Feb. 28 in the Spartanburg District, Bishop Jonathan Holston will tour each of the 12 districts in the state to talk to church lay leaders and lay servants (see full schedule with locations, below). Joined by district superintendents and district lay leaders, Holston will offer insights and ideas on ways to develop healthy lay leadership teams and healthy churches, as well as discuss best practices for establishing healthy environments within the local church.
Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware said she is excited about the road show, which she and her team developed with Holston after a successful two-day lay leadership retreat last year.
“Many of the laity at the retreat asked the bishop if he would do something similar on the local level,” Ware said. “Being the committed leader he is, the bishop said, ‘Let’s take this concept to the districts and the local churches,’ and that is how the Bishop’s Road Show began!”
“This effort is bringing to fruition an amazing opportunity to share this unique leadership experience within each district,” Holston said, noting it answers a “clarion call” by laity for a leadership experience on the district level. “Simply, it is a way to encourage, energize and empower congregations across our annual conference to transform our world in excellent ways. In fact, when we develop healthy leaders and congregations, we become the very disciples that build communities of compassion, community and hope.”
Ware said she believes laity will enjoy having conversations with Holston and getting to know him in a different setting.
“He is such an engaging person who truly does care about and for the laity,” Ware said, calling Holston an excellent speaker and motivator who is sure to offer new visions for local church leaders.
The Rev. Kathy James, conference Connectional Ministries director, will assist Holston, and other conference staff will be on hand during the event, which is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each time and includes lunch and Holy Communion.
Shelia Shanklin, chair of the Lay Servant Leadership Task Force, said she thinks the road show will be another strong opportunity for laity to learn and grow in pursuit of their life in Christ.
“I am very excited that the lay servants and lay leaders in the district will have a chance to get to know each other, to build that trust that enables us to accomplish more as a connected church, to realize that our bishop and other conference leaders are really a part of ‘us’ and not ‘they,’ and experience the joy and excitement of learning how to better serve as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Shanklin said.
Jackie G. Jenkins, conference director of Lay Servant Ministries, said she remembers before the retreat in March thinking, “oh, how amazing an undertaking,” and coming away from that gathering impressed with the care, concern and value the bishop saw in South Carolina’s laity. She expects much the same from the road show.
“(Holston is) an episcopal servant who genuinely cares to the extent that he made the time to get his hands wet. He has been seizing every occasion to reframe problems into opportunities to create and maintain healthy churches for Kingdom-building,” Jenkins said. “He lives out the old adage that ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!’ He is working with us and encouraging that we flex our muscles to be better disciples. His hands-on big dream/God-sized vision leadership approach is making it clear to all of us that we have the creativity and potential to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary; and in so doing, God will be glorified.”
For more information about the road show, contact your district office or call the conference center at 803-786-9486.
Bishop’s Road Show Dates and Locations
If your district’s date doesn’t fit your schedule, feel free to attend a road show in a neighboring district:
Sept. 6—Marion District, Macedonia UMC, 402 N. Main St. Mullins
Sept. 13—Florence District, Central UMC, 265 West Cheves St., Florence
Oct. 11—Greenville District, Trinity UMC, 2703 Augusta St., Greenville
Oct. 18—Rock Hill District, Philadelphia UMC, 1691 Hwy. 160 W., Fort Mill
Oct. 25—Walterboro District, New Life UMC, 763 Green Pond Hwy., Walterboro
Nov. 15—Orangeburg District, Beulah UMC, 1577 Old State Rd., Gaston
Nov. 22—Greenwood District, St. Mark UMC, The Rivers Street Campus, 1633 Rivers St., Greenwood
Dec. 6—–Charleston District, North Charleston UMC, 1125 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston
Jan. 17, 2015—Hartsville District, Trinity UMC, 226 W. Liberty St., Sumter
Jan. 24, 2015—Columbia District, Shandon UMC, 3407 Devine St. Columbia
Feb. 7, 2015—Anderson District, Zion UMC, 5708 Hwy. 187 N., Anderson
Feb. 28, 2015—Spartanburg District, Bethel UMC, 245 S. Church St., Spartanburg
• Morning refreshments and lunch will be served.
• Dress is casual and the setting is casual.
• United Methodist lay leaders and lay servants are invited.