Congregational Development Report to the 2008 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge and over the past decade has provided leadership to the general church as we sustained growth in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about one hundred churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2007.

In 2007, the Office of Congregational Development co-sponsored with Windsor United Methodist Church located in the Wilmington District an event for small membership churches called Fan the Flame. This event will be supported again in 2008. The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide demographic research for local churches, districts and conference agencies. Data for these studies are supplied by MissionInsite, Inc. and the Office of Research for the General Board of Global Ministries at no cost to conference users.

In forty years, sixty-five attempts have been made to plant new churches within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic-Latino, African-American, Korean, Native American, and African. More than 72% of these attempts have been successful. In 2008, several more new churches will be planted following appointments to be announced by Bishop Gwinn at the conclusion of annual conference.

The Ten Dollar Club is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson
Stephen C. Compton, Executive Director, Office of Congregational Development

Pastor's Column in the June Newsletter

Sisters and Brothers in Christ –

Greetings in the Name of the One Who Is, the One Who Was, and the One Who Is to Come!

In the month of June we mark the closing of one year of my ministry with the people called Methodist at Queen Street UMC. It has been a long journey for me. I came with energy to spare and ready to lean into God’s future for Kinston. No sooner than I had arrived and we commending the soul of our sister Teresa Smith to God. My plans were changed. Our plans were changed. Suddenly we had to rely on God’s guidance as we began to move in new directions under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Where are we now? The pastor-parish relations committee hopes to hire a full-time director of our children’s ministry in the coming months. The board of trustees is utilizing the resources from the sale of the house on Margaret Lane to renovate spaces for children and youth ministries. We learned from our Music Academy what a venture into after-school care might look like in our building. So we are now positioned to open, pending renovation and hiring, an after-school program for elementary children this fall. With God’s blessing may it come to pass!

As the summer is now upon us, we are already shifting gears to implement strategies for the fall. As Jacob Mewborn and I reviewed our summer plans, it made sense to us to wait until August for us to launch a worship-filled weekly Bible study on Wednesday evenings. In the meantime we are looking over our calendars to find several times to gather ourselves together to have some fun and fellowship on some Wednesday evenings. We will keep you posted on the progress of our plans.

Sisters and brothers … we stand ready to move. Like many of you, I am excited by recent announcements of jobs coming to Kinston. I am excited about the resurgence I sense in our steps and encourage us to continue seeking for the welfare of the city, for in it we will find our own welfare (see Jeremiah 29:6). Keep praying for strength to lean into God’s vision for his soon-coming and already-arriving kingdom.

Grace and Peace, Allen