As all of you know, we have been working hard to cast a vision for Belle Meade UMC with our work through the cottage groups and then our terrific luncheon with Mark DeVries a few weeks ago. The church staff has now reviewed all of our work and are ready to send it forward to the Church Council meeting next Tuesday night. Assuming the Council approves, we will then be ready to talk more clearly about our core values and our goals as a church. It is an exciting time.
Our Annual Conference has also been living into a new vision, too. In 2014 we adopted this mission: “to discover, equip, connect and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.”
One of the results of this new mission is that our leaders have committed themselves to focus on shifting resources and support closer to the local churches. This June, we will vote to confirm a move to authorize the Bishop to reconfigure our current annual conference from 7 districts to 5 which will enable us to do the following:
“Fewer districts will allow our Superintendents to function as “missional strategists” and to more easily collaborate in creating resources through categories of churches of similar size and context.”
The move from 7 districts to 5 will also result in a substantial savings of dollars.
And the new focus will also result in Conference Resource Persons who will be deployed into districts in order to assist the Superintendent with the Missional Strategy.
For quite a long time, Belle Meade has been part of the Nashville District. In this new “redistricting plan”, the Nashville District no longer exists. The 5 new districts have been named after 5, unique river geographies in Middle Tennessee. Those 5 new districts are The Caney Fork District, The Cumberland River District, The Stones River District, The Harpeth River District, and The Red River District.
Belle Meade will now become a part of The Red River District, which includes the Dickson, Waverly, and Clarksville areas.
What this change will bring about is still being developed. But the emphasis on more focused help for local churches as they strive to make disciples for Jesus Christ is an important change.
Andrew Doyle has suggested that we are now living in what he calls a “VUCA World”—Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. As such, it is imperative that we find ways to adapt to the new realities around us.
As more information is released, we will keep you posted all along the way.