In Margaret Wheatley’s book: Finding our Way: Leadership in Uncertain Times, we are reminded that we make the road by walking. In the walking, she suggests that the work that we do is spiritual. We are now entering our third year living into our mission statement adopted in 2014 and are continuing to make decisions about resources and structure based on it. As you know, our mission is “…. 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.”
By continuing to live into this mission, we are clarifying our focus by shifting support closer to the local churches. As a result, the decision was made at the 2016 Annual Conference to authorize moving from seven districts to five which will enable us to do the following:
- Fewer districts will allow our District Superintendents, as missional strategists, to more easily collaborate in creating training and resources through categories of churches with similar context and size.
- The District Superintendents will partner with Rev. Melinda Britt, Director of Connectional Ministries, to identify trained leaders who will walk churches through processes to help them better understand their contexts and create measurable outcomes for ministry.
- By identifying the assets and needs of congregations, we hope to help them leverage the gifts of each congregation and envision new opportunities for ministry and missional engagement.
As Andrew Doyle has suggested, we are living in a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. As such, we continue to seek to be adaptive to the changing world around us. One of the ways our District Superintendents are living into the adaptive challenge is by developing Operational Teams in each district focused on developing Spiritual Leaders through Loving, Learning and Leading.
These teams are working with our District Superintendents to create a missional strategy that is contextual yet aligned with the mission of the Tennessee Conference. As we turn our attention toward the local church, our capacity and capability to make disciples of Jesus Christ will increase.
In the fall of 2016, a group comprised of lay and clergy from across the conference was convened and led by Rev. Dr. Phil Jamieson, to begin the work of realigning the districts. They studied numerous options giving much thought to not only equitable work load for District Superintendents but also geographical and cultural context of each new district. This group returned a suggested draft to the cabinet and over the last few months; that draft was fine-tuned and below is the outcome of that redistricting work.
The five new districts and the corresponding District Superintendents will be as follows:
- Caney Fork River District – Rev. Donna Parramore
- Cumberland River District – Rev. Scott Aleridge
- Harpeth River District – Rev. Allen Black
- Red River District – Rev. Dr. Ken Murray
- Stones River District – Rev. Max Mayo
A list of the churches assigned to each of the above districts may be accessed by clicking here.
Various aspects of the new district transitions are being planned and worked out now. Some reconfiguration will take place before annual conference such as equal budgeting allocations across all districts and creating new district committees on Ordained Ministry, Church Board and Location, Trustees, and Superintendency committees. Other committees, district leadership positions, UMW and UMM leadership positions, etc. will be phased in over the 2017-18 Conference year.
Clergy and laity will attend Pre-Conference briefings this spring based on their new district assignments to complete any nominations that must be made before Annual Conference. The dates of these briefings will be posted on the conference website when they become available.
We invite you to pray with the cabinet as we make our way by walking into a future that seeks to increase our capacity and capability to lead our local congregations in their ability to make disciples of Jesus Christ.