September Message from Rev. Coplin & Newsletter
I pray these words find you well! This month, I’m excited to share with you a priority project aimed at revitalizing our governance structure here at First UMC Many. While other matters have diverted our focus from time to time, I believe the time is finally right to share these ideas with you. First, I must acknowledge that our present structure has served us well for many years! However, like any thriving organization, our ability to adapt to emerging challenges is critical. One such challenge we’ve faced is a persistent decline in church involvement, which leaves fewer members available to adequately cover all essential roles. You likely know that we rely on the same dedicated individuals year in and year out to serve in multiple capacities. If you presently serve in such a way, please know that I am continuously grateful for and inspired by your commitment. You clearly demonstrate church service to be both an honor and a responsibility. It’s also fair to say that occasional time away would allow you the opportunity to recharge and reimagine your role, while allowing space for others to learn the ropes.
While appropriate in years past, our current governance structure demands significant time commitments that may deter potential new leaders and limit our collective ability to focus on discipleship and outreach. If we aspire to invite new leadership and unlock the unique gifts they can offer, we must adapt our approach to better align with the busy lives we all lead. To proactively address these issues, our Administrative Council is discussing a transition to a church governance structure commonly referred to as Simplified Accountable Structure (S.A.S.). This model is being implemented to the betterment of churches of all sizes across our conference. In the remainder of this letter, I will delve into the two key aspects of this new model: simplification and accountability.
In short, the S.A.S. model combines our current governance committees (Trustees, Finance, Staff-Parish Relations, and Administrative Council) into a single, agile board to be called the Church Council. The primary duty of the Church Council will be to align the resources of the church to our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The results of a simplified structure are multifold:
- Efficiency: With fewer layers in decision-making, actions can be implemented more quickly
- Involvement: This structure allows space for new people to familiarize themselves with our leadership structure and will, over time, spread the responsibilities more broadly across our congregation
- Focus: Less time spent in meetings means more time devoted to our core mission and ministry activities. Church Council governs to empower Outreach, Discipleship, and Fellowship Teams.
Alongside simplification, the S.A.S. model will implement and enhance accountability in crucial areas:
- Mission Alignment: The Council will periodically review if our church’s resources and decisions are aligning with our core mission and objectives.
- Council Responsibilities: Those serving on the Council will be held to clearly communicated accountability standards to ensure effective and ethical governance.
- Pastoral Leadership: The model offers a framework for evaluating how pastoral leadership contributes to the spiritual growth of our church as well as to community
- Transparency and Communication: Regular updates from the board to the congregation will be standard practice, ensuring open communication and mutual accountability.
Though our governance structure would change, the people and teams we rely on to sustain ministry will not. It is my hope and prayer that these teams will experience a fresh wave of energy and purpose!
Churches that have transitioned to a Simplified Accountable Structure have regularly experienced clearer understanding of their mission and have found new energy and growth in their church. I believe that this is a unique time in the history of First UMC in which we can leverage the energy and excitement stirring among us to create a positive impact in our church and community.
No changes to our governance structure will be made without a majority vote of the entire church. I will be providing additional opportunities for you to learn more and share your thoughts on this proposed transition in the coming weeks. Your input is invaluable as we discern this path forward. May God’s wisdom guide us as we contemplate these changes together.
Grace and peace,