At its second meeting, Jan. 26, 2016, the Connectional Table
took up a number of issues – including Covenant Hills Christian Camp, the September pilgrimage to South Korea, and its own structure and function.
The 2015 Annual Conference directed that a task force be set up in Vermont to help address the issues brought about by the closing of Covenant Hills Christian Camp. The Vermont Task Force on Camping/Retreat and Outdoor Ministries
has been charged with making:
1) Recommendations for the use of the Covenant Hills site for the 2016 season,
2) Long-term recommendations for Covenant Hills, and
3) Development of a plan for youth ministry throughout the state.
The task force approached the Connectional Table about facilitating outside groups renting the camp for programming this summer.
Connectional Table members questioned whether the facilities are safe and ready to host groups. The Table named a subcommittee – Rene Wilbur, Rev. Kristabeth Atwood, both from Vermont, and Bernie Campbell, chair of the Board of Trustees, to speak with the task force about Covenant Hills’ readiness and the plans for hosting groups. The subcommittee will bring a report back to the Connectional Table.
Spiritual Journey to South Korea
In mid-December, the Connectional Table sought applications to join the Sept. 19 to 27, 2016 spiritual journey to South Korea
hosted by the BuPyeong Methodist Center.
Ten applications were submitted by the Jan. 15 deadline. Those applications will be reviewed and the applicants will be notified of the decision by Feb. 15. Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar and Conference Lay Leader Rene Wilbur will extend invitations to fill out the 33 available spots.
“We are so blessed to have more Korean brothers and sisters serving in our churches,” Bishop Devadhar said. “This trip gives laity and others first-hand experience with the culture of Korea. There is a deeper spirituality and hospitality that we can learn from our Korean brothers and sisters.”
Partnership with a Korean conference
The Connectional Table reviewed the partnership with the Samnam Conference in South Korea that has been part of ongoing conversations between the bishops. The partnership document has been drawn up, and it will be up to the Connectional Table to ratify the partnership agreement.
The bishop said he sees this partnership as fitting into our critical values of seeking to deepen our spirituality and gain a better understanding of the global nature of the Church.
Bishop Devadhar also announced that a group of eight South Koreans, including two bishops, will be coming to the Annual Conference session in June, and there may be a chance to invite members of the group to be guest speakers/preachers at nearby churches.
Connectional Table structure and function
The Connectional Table was formed as part of the Strategic Plan
adopted by the 2014 Annual Conference. It is charged with stewardship of the Conference vision.
On Tuesday, members spent some time discussing the role of members and responsibilities of the group. Among those is to meet with Conference leadership at an annual visioning retreat. The purpose of the retreat is to monitor, evaluate, coordinate and develop goals and budget. Dates for the retreat have not been set, but it is expected to be in the fall of 2016.
To help members better understand the budgeting process, the Connectional Table will invite leaders from the Conference Council on Finance and Administration to an upcoming meeting to offer insight and answer questions about how the Conference budget is developed.
Under the Strategic Plan, the Conference’s committees and boards have been grouped under the five critical values
. Nine of the 13 members of the Connectional Table (excluding staff members Bill Burnside and Erica Robinson-Johnson; New Hampshire District Superintendent David Abbott and the bishop) were asked to select one of the five values, and will be assigned to act as liaison to the committees/boards aligned under that value.
“It is our responsibility to see that the work of the Conference is being accomplished,” said Wilbur. To that end, the members will follow up with various board and committee chairs in their area and stay informed about their work and progress. The members’ choices will be reviewed and the assignments to value areas will be made at a future meeting.
The Connectional Table meets next on Thursday, March 3, 2016.