Structure revision team hosts listening post

March 20, 2013

The Baton Rouge District will host the first listening post for the Louisiana Conference Structure Revision Team on April 14 at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. The event will be held in the church's Conference Center at 3 p.m.

The purpose of this event is to give people an opportunity to provide feedback on the conference structure and how it could better meet the missional needs of the conference. Established questions will be used for the facilitated discussion.

At the 2012 Annual Conference, the Conference Ministry Team moved that the Presiding Bishop form a task force to study and recommend an alternative structure for the ministry and mission of the Louisiana Annual Conference. The rationale for the proposal was that the Louisiana Annual Conference is shifting from being organized as a service provider to being organized for missional strategy; therefore, we need a structure better suited for this task. While any changes must be consistent with the current Book of Discipline, a new structure for Conference ministries should provide for a more flexible decision-making method, greater creativity and innovation, and greater agility in reaching missional goals.

After the 2012 Annual Conference adopted the Conference Ministry Team’s report, the Structure Revision Team was established and began work.

Methodology of the Structure Revision Team

Undergirded with prayer and a discerning spirit, the members of the Structure Revision Team are Andrew Blackwood, John Cannon, Jerry Hilbun, Tim Smith, Leslie Stephens, Ruben Vaughn, Dianne Wilkinson, Deborah Williams, Ed Boyd and Hadley Edwards (Cabinet liaisons), Don Cottrill (Provost and Director of Connectional Ministries), and Margaret Johnson (Chairperson).

The team has extensively discussed the current conference structure, requirements of the Book of Discipline, concerns particular to the Louisiana Annual Conference, emerging needs for innovative mission and ministry, issues of effective leadership, and theological understandings of the nature and purpose of the conference.

The team conducted personal interviews with lay and clergy leadership in the Louisiana Annual Conference to determine the strengths and weaknesses of our current structure and to forecast future needs as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Persons interviewed included past and current district superintendents, former members and chairs of the Conference Ministry Team, conference lay leaders and others. Because this work is detailed and complex, the team will seek to continue its work by conducting listening posts in each district to further gather perspectives and opinions about the current structure and future needs.

The team also gathered information from other Annual Conferences that have been through a similar restructuring process. The team identified strengths and weaknesses of each conference structure, spoke with persons in those conferences, and evaluated how their work could be applied to the specific circumstances of this conference.