The United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana recently hosted nearly 40 United Methodist foundations and related organizations for the National Association of United Methodist Foundation’s annual meeting, held in New Orleans Oct. 12-14.
Out-of-towners attending the event enjoyed experiencing Louisiana’s unique culture, people, food and music, while discussing how they can help churches address today’s challenges.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey addressed the group, sharing her vision for the church. Rev. Jonathan King, pastor of Blackwater UMC in Baker, and Rev. Fernie Rivera, associate at First UMC in Baton Rouge, each led worship services at the start of the daily programs. Rev. Donnie Wilkinson, pastor of First UMC in Alexandria, led two “TED Talk” sessions on leadership development.
Rev. Joseph Awotwi, pictured here, prayed for the group before they started a second line into the streets of New Orleans. Accompanied by a brass band, the group handed out Mardi Gras beads to passers-by as they made their way to Arnaud’s Restaurant for dinner.
Participants enjoyed two “Share Fairs” that allowed them to roam the meeting room much like a “speed-dating session,” listening to other foundation executives share their ideas and success stories. Two foundation executives used the IGNITE! format to make five-minute visual presentations, using 20 slides advancing at a rapid pace with only 800 words.
Each year the NAUMF awards $1,000 to a local ministry in the area where the meeting takes place. This year was no exception, and the award went to the Spirit Church ministry of New Orleans. Rev. Hadley Edwards received the award and entertained the group with a lively report on his work.
The challenges discussed in the general sessions were those previously identified by foundation executives—maintaining relevance, creating a shared vision, declining membership, developing leadership in clergy and creating a culture of accountability.
Located in Baton Rouge, the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana began in 1975 and serves United Methodist churches, institutions and individuals within the Louisiana Annual Conference, providing financial management, consultation and education, loans and grants. It is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the denomination.