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District News

Changing Church for a Changing World


In the midst of a rapidly changing ministry landscape, Fresh Expressions invites you to join us for a day of envisioning the unique ways the Holy Spirit might be inviting you to step deeper into mission. In this interactive day of training on November 12 you will:
• Catalyze a vision for a church that sends out the everyday people of God to be on mission in their networks and neighborhoods
• Brainstorm ways to connect with people your church may not be currently engaging
• Discover how fresh expressions of church can emerge alongside your traditional church
• Explore creative ways of being the church in the world today
Fresh Expressions is working together with ministry leaders to bring you the best of innovative practices that are transforming churches and mission across North America. Join us to discover actionable steps that any congregation can take to be a more effective witness in the world in which we find ourselves. 

REGISTERfree childcare available ages 0-12

Only $10 per person – includes lunch!

9:00 Gathering Time – Coffee & Refreshments
9:30 Welcome & Worship
10:00 Session # 1 – Movement: How Fresh Expressions Is Changing the Landscape
10:45 Break
11:00 Session # 2 – Need: Why Fresh Expressions Matter for the Church
12:00 Lunch Break
12:45 Session # 3 – Form: Creating Fresh Expressions in Context
2:00 Break
2:15 Local Story Interview & Q&A
2:50 Session # 4 – Action: How It’s Happening and How You Can Get Involved
3:30 Closing


Meet the Trainers

Rev. Heather Jallad serves an innovative dual role as the Fresh Expressions Specialist for the United Methodist Church in North Georgia and as the Community Engagement Pastor at Cannon UMC in Snellville, GA. She leads The Greenhouse (a network of FX pioneers) for the North Georgia Annual Conference. She pioneered the Common Ground Network, a network of fresh expressions, at Mount Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek and The Douglasville Dinner Church in Douglasville, GA. She holds a BA in Mass Communications from University of South Florida, an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Church Renewal and Fresh Expressions at United Theological Seminary. She and her husband Marten have been married for 28 years and have two daughters.


The Rev. Jon Davis, Ph.D. is a known and recognized leader in the Episcopal Church. He served as Canon for Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Central Florida; training  youth workers; initiating local, national and international missions and conferences. Jon is a successful church planter starting Church of the Incarnation / Oviedo, Florida in 2006 which grew from 6 people to an average Sunday attendance of 130+ in 2 years. He most recently served as the Executive Director of Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center during which he lead Canterbury back from the brink of collapse to a strong, sustainable and growing ministry. He is now on staff with Fresh Expressions. He is a sought after, dynamic and engaging speaker, writer, worship leader and ministry trainer.  

Lay Equalization Members

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.

2023 Lay Equalization Application Form


Why are there different numbers allotted for each church?

The number of laity invited must equal the total number of clergy (active and retired) that are invited. Each year part of the job of the Annual Conference Registrar is to calculate the number of Lay Members to Annual Conference each church or charge is given. This calculation is done using our Conference Rules which includes using items such as membership and number of clergy appointed to the church/charge (for detailed information, please see our Conference Rules). Once this is done, they are then sent to each church as these numbers can change from year to year.


New Conference Rules:

The 2021 Annual Conference approved a change to the Conference Rules as to how Lay Members to Annual Conference are distributed, moving more of the representation from our Equalization Members invited by the Board of Laity to the local church. This mainly impacted multiple point charges as each church in a charge, is now given at least one Lay Member to Annual Conference further empowering the voice of the local church.


Helpful Hints:

1)   Remember all Lay Members to Annual Conference must be entered by their church into our conference database, Brickriver, as soon as possible. This allows us to communicate Annual Conference 2023 information with them and help alleviate any delay in them being able to finalize their registration.

2)   Subscribe to MiConnect. This will help make sure that you will receive information about Annual Conference and other events going on in the conference.

Beyond Boxes

Beyond Boxes

~Rev. Dwayne Bagley, District Superintendent

How often has someone encouraged the leadership of your church to “think outside the box” when the topic of reaching new people surfaces during a planning session, visioning retreat, or committee meeting? I’d guess that such encouragement comes frequently, but results in efforts that are not far removed from the boxes we have been invited to think beyond. My own firsthand engagement with thinking outside the box has caused several well-intentioned effects. Better contents for the box, better looking boxes, detailed instructions about how to locate the box, seasonal invitations to gather inside the box, more accessible boxes and boxes designed for each generation have all resulted. None of these efforts moved the metrics of worship attendance and membership much. Frankly, I’m not convinced that plans and programs focused in and around our present boxes can reach new people. Those most likely to be attracted to even the best of boxes have already found a box of their own. If this is true, what can we do? Maybe there’s a way to think beyond our boxes.

A catalyst for this is allowing room within preconceived ideas about the way the church should be to consider the possibility that the future of the Christian Church in general and your church in particular will not be located in existing buildings and scheduled only at an appointed hour on Sunday morning. Openness to this possibility makes space for the Holy Spirit to move so that we are inspired to imagine new possibilities. Such imagination not only moves us outside the box but takes us beyond the box and may lead to a place where there is no box at all. To arrive at this point, we may be called to shed our expectation that every outreach is a means to the desired end of increasing worship attenders and giving units.

The good news is that it’s possible to sustain what people already connected to our church find meaningful, even as congregations reach out to new people in new places in new ways. Examples of how this is happening around the world is found in the Fresh Expressions movement. This global movement began in 2004 as Anglican and Methodist churches in Great Britain began to seek ways to mesh existing church culture with new ways of reaching those who didn’t go to church. This intentional seeking gave rise to over 3000 new faith communities located in places as diverse as playground swings and kayak seats, bar stools and beach blankets.

That movement has taken root in the United States and we’re inviting your congregation to consider how your church can offer a new kind of United Methodist Church for people not in church. We’ve scheduled a Fresh Expression Vision Day in the Greater Southwest District for Saturday, November 12, 2022. This opportunity to explore how a fresh expression can change the future of your church begins at 9:30 AM. Throughout the day you’ll interact with others to brainstorm innovative ways that everyday people of God can be on mission in their neighborhoods and with their networks of friends and acquaintances. Lunch will be served, and childcare will be available on site. When our day concludes at 3:30 PM you’ll leave with steps that your congregation can take to connect with new people in new places in new ways. Sign up today, encourage a team from your church to attend and envision how your church can begin ministry beyond the box.  

Read more

2022 Charge Conferences

All Fall conferences will be Charge Conferences, unless specific arrangements have been made.

Who are the members of a charge conference?
2016 Book of Discipline ¶246.2 The membership of the charge conference shall be all members of the church council or other appropriate body, together with retired ordained ministers and retired diaconal ministers who elect to hold their membership in said charge conference and any others as may be designated in the Discipline. If more than one church is on the pastoral charge, all members of each church council shall be members of the charge conference.

How will the conference be convened?
Conferences will be on ZOOM unless an in-person Church Conference was requested. If connecting from a smartphone or tablet, it’s helpful to have the free ZOOM app installed on your device in advance. A phone number will also be sent if someone needs to call in to the conference. For security reasons, please do not share ZOOM info on social media. 

Who will send the Zoom meeting info?
Once the forms are received in the District Office, Mandana will send the ZOOM meeting info to the pastor who should then share it with members of the SPRC and charge conference.

Will the SPRC meet with the District Superintendent?
Yes. The SPRC will use the charge conference Zoom link to meet with the DS 30 minutes prior to the charge conference.

How should our paperwork be submitted?
At least one week in advance, send your COMPLETED and SIGNED forms as scanned PDFs to Mandana at [email protected]

Forms are found on the Conference website: 

2022 Charge Conference Forms Checklist

2022 Good Beginnings-Pastor
2022 Good Beginnings-SPRC

2022 Charge Conference Letter

2022 Charge Conference Schedule UPDATED 10/5/22

2022 Charge Conference Agenda

District United Women in Faith Annual Celebration

The 4th Annual Greater Southwest District United Women in Faith Celebration will be October 1, 2022 from 9:30am-2pm at Otsego UMC.

Our Keynote Speaker, Ellen Harbin, is a gifted Bible teacher and conference speaker, creatively applying the truth of God’s Word to all of life’s triumphs and challenges. She’s engaging, inspiring and fun!

Child care is available, please bring a sack lunch for your child.

Cost is $15 per person.

Free will offering will be taken to be divided between United Methodist Community House and our District Pledge to Missions.


Summer Lay Servant Course

Course is free – order your own book and bring a sack lunch.
You must attend all sessions to earn credit for the course.
Courses with fewer than 5 people will be canceled.

Called to Preachbook cover: from pew to pulpit
Saturdays, July 16 & 30
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Kalamazoo: Milwood UMC (3919 Portage St, Kalamazoo)
Led by Rev. Karen Wheat
Required book: From Pew to Pulpit by Clifton F. Guthrie

This course is designed for those who have not completed formal preaching training, for pastors seeking a basic refresher course, and for others who are called upon to preach in a pastor’s absence. This course fulfills the “Preaching” requirement for Certified Lay Speaker status.


Registration deadline is July 9.

2022 Annual Conference

Based on Psalm 30, the 2022 Annual Conference focused on resiliency as our church journeys through pandemics, denominational, and social change. Find legislative results, materials and videos at

District Highlights

The Service of Recognition, Commissioning, and Ordination included these District clergy:
Dan Colthorp & Nate Starkey – completed Course of Study
Ian Boley & Mikki Sandlin – commissioned as Elders
Julia Humenik & Heather McDougall-Walsh – ordained as Elders
Lane Van – transferred into the Conference

Rev. Craig Van Beek, serving Burnips and Monterey Center UMCs, received a Harry Denman Award for Evangelism. Named after the well-known evangelist, this award honors United Methodists whose exceptional ministry brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Read more

Hopkins UMW Provides Re-Entry Kits

Hopkins UMC United Methodist Women initiated a project to provide “re-entry” kits to inmates being released from the Allegan County Jail. Each kit contains personal care items, a pocket calendar, a pair of socks and/or gloves, a small treat and a card from our church. Funding for the project came from private donations, loose change offerings and a Fresh Expressions Grant from the District. The first 20 kits (10 men and 10 women) were delivered to the jail in early January 2022. 

personal care items for inmate re-entry kits

District Baseball Game

Join United Methodists from around the District at our annual Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game!

Sunday, July 31
Gates open at 12:35, first pitch is at 1:35. 

Reserved tickets: $10 includes hat, $20 includes all-you-can-eat buffet (from 12:35 until end of 4th inning).

Purchase tickets online at using promo code: UMC.

2022 Growlers Baseball Flyer

Mission Evening

It’s Easy Being Green! Mission Evening

Presented by the Climax United Women in Faith

Visit stations to learn how your unit can become green! We invite you to present your progress and ideas.
Scotts United Women in Faith will share information about their Food Pantry… perhaps you’d like to start one at your church!

Hosted by Greater Southwest District United Women in Faith

Thursday, June 16

6:30 to 7:15 p.m. view exhibits and displays
7:15 to 8:00 p.m. refreshments and Q & A time

Climax UMC (133 E Maple St, Climax, MI 49034)

Registration fee is $5 and entire proceeds will go to Community House.
Ingathering of non-perishable protein items (peanut butter, canned meats, beans, etc.) and tortillas for the Scotts Food Pantry

Register by June 13: 2022 Mission Evening Registration 

Greater Southwest District