Connectional Table, Conference leaders come together for retreat

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui King leads discussion at the leadership retreat Nov. 17-18, 2017.

November 28, 2017

The Connectional Table held its first retreat with leaders of the Conference’s boards and agencies on Nov. 17-18, 2017 at Sudbury UMC in Massachusetts.
The retreat was led by the Rev. Dr. Jacqui King, Discipleship Ministries’ Director of Leadership for Congregational Vitality.
Rev. Dr. Jacqui King
Dr. King described the goal of the retreat this way: “It’s an awakening. It’s an opportunity for them to hear one another and to hear the Holy Spirit - and a chance to gain the clarity, so they can move forward.”
In welcoming Dr. King, the Connectional Table, and leaders, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar talked about this goals for the gathering.
“God has given us the keys to bring transformation for such a time as this,” the bishop said. “We as leaders cannot do anything unless we all have the tools to carry out this ministry in new ways. I hope this retreat will give everyone tools of every kind so we can claim and celebrate our common ministry together for the glory of God as disciples of Jesus Christ bonded by Christ’s love and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
To those assembled for this first retreat, Dr. King said: “My charge is to help you think about: ‘What does it mean to come together and do God’s work as lay and clergy alike?’”
To help facilitate that thought process, Dr. King posed three questions:
  • What are your critical leadership capacity issues and community needs?
  • What is needed form this session to help lay and clergy leaders function effectively?
  • Moving forward involves leadership, discipleship, prayer, and action. What are your measurable milestones?
The Strategic Plan, adopted by the 2014 Annual Conference, was one focus of the leaders’ time together. Under
the plan, committees and boards have been grouped under the Conference’s five critical values. Connectional Table members are assigned to act as liaison to the committees/boards aligned under that value.  
Part of the process, Dr. King said, is to figure out how to move from “a conceptual understanding of a process and a plan” to action. That requires, she said, asking: “Where do I fit in here? What has God called me to do?” As well as “What can I leave here with that I need to leave here with?” in order to take action.
“Find whatever your heart is passionate about,” Dr. King said. “God has already spoken in your spirit what He needs you to do; He’s called for it to be done here in New England, and He knows it can be done.”
Looking at the diagram showing the relationship between the Connectional Table and the boards and committees (as described by the critical values), Dr. King emphasized the need for the arrows (hence the relationships) to flow in all directions.
“You have to remain invitational and out in community,” Dr. King said. “You sit at this table, but you represent a broad group of people; you have to get in touch with the people that you’re representing on this committee, so when your voice comes to this table, your voice is full.”
“You have to get to know why God has called you now for such a time as this,” Dr. King said. “You can’t keep living like strangers, because God needs every gift that’s here.”
Hear Dr. King illustrate the point with a short story about some soup
Dr. King said that she was hopeful about what she saw during the retreat, and she encouraged those attending to stay at this challenging work:
“There are people who are going to come to Christ this year because you’re struggling at this table to do a new thing,” she said.  
During this time, the Connectional Table also elected its co-chairs, one clergy, one lay: Rev. Ron Wilson, retired, and Joan Klein.
The Connectional Table agreed it will meet three to four times per year: January, March (to address budgeting), in the fall (connected to a retreat), and, if necessary, hold a spring meeting prior to the Annual Conference session.
The retreat also included time for Connectional Table members and leaders to hear presentations about the role of the Director of Connectional Ministries, the relationship of the Committee on Leadership/Nominations with the various boards and agencies, and the budgeting process.
Opening worship for the retreat was led by Pastor Zach Kerzee of Simple Church, a farm-to-table dinner church, in Grafton, MA.