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District News

1-1 with the District Superintendent

Rev. Dean Prentiss, our new District Superintendent, has set aside time in July and August for annual 1-1 conversations with those appointed and assigned in the District.

Some are by Zoom and others will be in person in the District Office.

Check your email for the link to schedule your 1-1.

Please complete your reflections on the 2024 1-1 Questions and email them to the District Office no later than a week prior to our time together.

Southwest Michigan Latinx Community Ministry Update

My name is Cesar Garcia-Rodriguez, I am appointed to the new Latinx Church Plant of the Greater Southwest District. Working in the mission of The United Methodist Church is the most exciting work and purpose of life; to be witness of the transformation that the grace of God brings to our community as we visited the migrant camps and the Hispanic families who are already established in Van Buren County.

One of the most impactful moments of this past year, was when leading a Spanish Bible study at the parsonage, God working in the unity of the families, by studying about the grace of God working in every person and how to bring families together; even through games and a dinner we could experience the Holy Spirit restoring the bonds of parents and children.

And the ministry is just beginning; we are so excited to announce that this summer even more things are going to happen with the Hispanic Ministry in our district.

Miriam Peralta De Garcia is appointed to work full-time along with me in the new Latinx Church. Thanks to the support of the Michigan Conference and generous donors, this will be possible starting the first of July; along with the establishment of the Hispanic Community Center in the facilities of Paw Paw United Methodist Church who has opened their doors to host this ministry.
 
Through this Center we will be offering classes and services to the Spanish-speaking community. We are currently in need of equipment: such as 15 padded folding chairs, a whiteboard, and office supplies (white paper, printer ink, pencils, tape, etc.).

This summer once again, we are working closely with the Van Buren Intermediate School District’s Migrant/Multilingual office, which offers a summer program to migrant children. This year again we will support them with 300 reusable plastic water bottles that they need during the summer school hours.

Along with that, we continue the partnership with the Department of Labor of Michigan State, Migrant Agricultural office to support the Bienvenidos Event, which welcomes migrant seasonal workers and their families. Several agencies come together to offer services; we are going to put together a welcoming kit, which includes hygiene products for the entire family: shampoo, soap, deodorants, sunscreen, etc.
 
If you or your church wants to support or donate to the community center, the summer program, or the welcoming kits, please contact me (269-569-4962 or [email protected]) or send a check to the district office.

Spring Lay Servant Course

Courses are free – order your own book and bring a sack lunch.
You must attend all sessions to earn credit for the course.
Registration deadline is one week prior to the first session.

REGISTER HERE

 

Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century

Saturdays,
May 4 & 11  |  9am-3pm  |  Parchment UMC
Led by Carla Gillespie
Required book: Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Are you inspired to learn new ways of helping your congregation develop an intentional and comprehensive ministry that is by, with, and for Boomers, Gen X’ers, and others in their golden years? These are the older adults who often play leading roles in our congregations. This course explores innovative and practical ways of helping congregations develop outstanding ministry with members of our Baby Boomer Generation and beyond. It offers a rich learning experience that includes knowing more about the aging process and the developmental stages of midlife and older adulthood and how we can best shape our ministry.

District Leaders Needed

We are currently seeking people who want to respond to God’s call in their life by helping to set the vision for the continuing United Methodist Church in the Greater Southwest District. Ask your pastor for details or contact your District Superintendent for more information. We are looking for leaders for the following roles within the District:

Board of Church Location and Building:  We are seeking persons acquainted with real estate sales, the work of trustees and general knowledge of parsonages.  This committee approves sales of church property and reviews proposed building plans. 

Finance:  We are in critical need of a District Treasurer.  This person would be responsible for monthly bank reconciliation and keeping track of fund balances.  This position could be a paid position, but it is very part-time.  

District Director of Lay Servant Ministry:  This person would work in cooperation with the rest of the Lay Servant Ministry Team to schedule Lay Speaking/Lay Servant opportunities in the Greater Southwest District and to communicate with local churches about the availability of online training opportunities.

District Leadership Team:  We are seeking persons with an interest in connectional mission and ministry and a desire to equip and engage the people called United Methodist in Southwest Michigan so that every church offers a foretaste of the Kingdom of God. Responsibilities of this team will include planning District Training Days, reviewing and approving applications for ENGAGE and Fresh Expressions Grants, and setting a vision for the continuing United Methodist Church in the Greater Southwest District.   

Love & Justice Workshop

Dr. Chris Momany will lead a workshop on The Gospel of Love and the Work of Justice based on his book Compelling Lives: Five Methodist Abolitionists and the Ideas That Inspired Them.

Tuesday, March 5
9:30 am – Noon
Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo (2350 Ring Rd N, Kalamazoo)

What motivates Christians to work for justice? How can Wesleyan theology ground our understandings of both love and justice? How might the personal experience of grace move us outside of ourselves in valuing each individual and all people? How may we think, feel, and act for justice?

This free workshop at the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo will include worship, presentation, and discussion.

Who should come? Pastors, laity, anyone willing to grow personally and work for justice!

Register now

 

 

headshot of Chris Momany

The Rev. Dr. Chris Momany was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan and grew up in the Peace Temple United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of Adrian College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Drew University. His speaking, teaching, and writing focus on history and human rights. His book on the Wesleyan ethic of love and justice is titled: Doing Good: A Grace-Filled Approach to Holiness (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011). Chris’s book on ethical theory and the abolitionist movement was released in 2018: For Each and All: The Moral Witness of Asa Mahan (Nashville: Foundery Books). Chris has been active in “Historians Against Slavery” – an organization that explores history to fight human trafficking.

From 2004 until 2019 Chris wrote for the Daily Bible Study of The United Methodist Publishing House. He has also served in leadership among the National Council of Churches and between 2012 and 2020 was a member of the “writing team” that crafted an updated version of the United Methodist Social Principles.

Chris’s latest book profiles five Methodist abolitionists and their witness against slavery: Compelling Lives: Five Methodist Abolitionists and the Ideas That Inspired Them (Cascade, 2023). This book is the third release within a highly regarded series on Wesleyan and Methodist Explorations.

In 2015 Chris helped discover a long-lost, handwritten journal. This artifact, penned during the 1830s and 1840s, documents a ship used in the transatlantic slave trade. Chris is helping to lead a multiracial team of scholars who are telling the story of this ship and working for racial justice today. The “Dialogue on Race and Faith” team journeyed to Benin in December of 2022 to explore historical sites and to begin repairing relationships. Chris is an editor of and a contributor to the book about this effort: Awakening to Justice: Faithful Voices from the Abolitionist Past (InterVarsity Press, 2024).

Lay Members to Annual Conference

How can I attend and vote at Annual Conference as Laity? In order to serve this role, you must be a member of The United Methodist Church for two years, and an active participant in The UMC for at least four years prior to your election (this is waived for those under 30). More information about this can be found in The Book of Discipline ¶32.
 
There are two main ways laity can attend and vote at Annual Conference. The first is by being elected by their church to serve as a Lay Member to Annual Conference. Each church is given a set number of voting spots each year. If this is a role you are interested in serving, please reach out to your pastor to see if this may be a way to serve now or in the future.
 
The second way laity attend is as equalization members. Per The Book of Discipline and our Conference Rules, some of these spots are automatically given to certain offices within the conference such as certain conference committee chairs, district lay leaders and other conference positions. Our Conference Rules then indicate any remaining spots be given to the Board of Laity to distribute and find eligible members to serve. To do this, you must meet the membership requirements, apply with your District Lay Leader, and all of your church Lay Member spots must be used. Your District Lay Leader will then let you know if you were selected to serve in this role and you will be given information on how then to register for Annual Conference.  

The cost of registration, double-occupancy housing, and most meals is covered by the Conference for Lay Equalization members.

2024 Lay Equalization Application – deadline is extended!

Intentional Discipleship System workshop

The Heritage and Greater Southwest Districts are pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes and Rev. Bryan Tener from Discipleship Ministries!

Saturday, February 3, 2024
9:30AM – 3:00PM
Marshall United Methodist Church  (721 Old US Highway 27, Marshall, MI 49068)

Growing in Grace: Designing an Intentional Discipleship System and Community Engagement is a transformative workshop for United Methodist Church leaders in Michigan, aimed at cultivating a robust culture of discipleship. Scheduled from 9:30AM to 3:00PM, this event will guide participants through the theology and practicalities of discipleship formation, grounding in baptism, and community engagement, culminating in the crafting of an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS). Attendees will leave equipped with strategies and structures to nurture discipleship within their congregations.

Don’t miss this FREE event!  REGISTER NOW

 

Lunch will be sandwich platters from Subway. If you have special dietary needs, please bring your own lunch.

In case of inclement weather, you will be notified by email if the event is cancelled.

 

Meet the Presenters:

Rev. Bryan Tener, a member of the Cheyenne Arapaho nation and a part of the traditional warrior society, the Bowstrings, through which, he helps with the Sundance ceremony and other ceremonies throughout the Cheyenne year. He graduated from OCU, religion, in 2005 and earned his Masters of Divinity in 2009 from Vanderbilt Divinity School. He has served in the Oklahoma Conference, the OIMC, and Since July of 2019 he has served as the director of contextual evangelism and church planting at Path1 and Discipleship Ministries, a general agency of the UMC. He enjoys Crossfit, is a level 1 trainer and coaches at Koda HQ in his free time and enjoys rucking and does GoRuck and HYROX events when opportunities come up and he has completed mental strength coaching through Driven Mind. Bryan has also completed Level 1 and 2 Improv courses through OKC Improv. He appreciates the crossovers and connections between his work in the church, the gym, and with Improv. He seeks to live out his purpose to make space so that others and self have the opportunity to learn and grow, which feeds into almost any place he finds himself. He and his wife Angela have been married since 1999 and have two sons, Barrett, still at home, and Brady who lives with his wife Mackenzie and their first grandchild, Blakely. They also have a sweet chocolate lab pit mix named Baker.

Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes is currently the Associate General Secretary (World Service) for Discipleship Ministries. Scott served as the Director of Adult Discipleship and the Executive Director of Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship. Scott was an Associate Pastor at Douglasville FUMC for nine years and Pastor at Barnesville Circuit for four years. Holding a M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Southern Methodist University, Scott is an ordained Elder in the North Georgia Conference since 2007. He’s a key contributor to the “Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way” podcast and creator of online courses like “Basics of Faith Formation” and “Courageous Conversations” series. His expertise extends to training in small groups and Intentional Discipleship Systems. Based in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, Scott enjoys almost 25 years of marriage and is a father to two sons, aged 20 and 18. He’s also a passionate photographer, focusing on landscapes and high school sports.

 

Schedule:

9:00 AM          Registration and Coffee
9:30 AM          Opening and Invocation
9:45 AM          Discipleship Formation
10:45 AM        Morning Break
11:00 AM        Cultivating a Discipleship Culture
11:30 AM        Crafting an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS)
12:00 PM         Lunch Break
12:30 PM         Crafting an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS)
1:15 PM           Afternoon Break
1:30 PM           Engaging Your Community
2:15 PM           Listening Well
2:45 PM           Workshop Wrap-up
3:00 PM           Conclusion

Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century

THE SESSION ON JANUARY 13 IS CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER!

Courses are free – order your own book and bring a sack lunch.
You must attend all sessions to earn credit for the course.
Registration deadline is January 8.

 

Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century

Saturdays, January 13 & 20 (snow date Jan 27)
9am – 3pm
Parchment UMC (225 Glendale Blvd, Parchment, MI 49004)

Led by Carla Gillespie
Required book: Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Are you inspired to learn new ways of helping your congregation develop an intentional and comprehensive ministry that is by, with, and for Boomers, Gen X’ers, and others in their golden years? These are the older adults who often play leading roles in our congregations. This course explores innovative and practical ways of helping congregations develop outstanding ministry with members of our Baby Boomer Generation and beyond. It offers a rich learning experience that includes knowing more about the aging process and the developmental stages of midlife and older adulthood and how we can best shape our ministry.

REGISTER NOW

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Greater Southwest District