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UMC Foundation Hosts Conversation to Grow UMC

Atlanta, GA – The United Methodist Church Foundation (the Foundation) hosted conversation at Impact Church in Atlanta, GA on February 23-24 among strategic stakeholders in growing the United Methodist Church in the USA.

The event was attended by members of the Council of Bishops, foundation executives, development professionals, economists and local church planters from around The United Methodist Church.  The concept and idea for the gathering was borne from conversations about how foundations can move beyond excellent investment performance and endowment management to surfacing strategies to grow the Church for the future ministry currently being endowed. A recurring theme throughout the conversation was a focus on innovations for new places for new people – one of the denominations four areas of focus; and for non-traditional funding streams to provide long-term support for mission and ministry at all levels of the Church. 

Impact Church, a growing and outreach focused congregation in East Point, Georgia provided an inspirational venue for this dynamic think tank experience. Rev. Sharon Washington, a new church planter in Indiana and participant said about the direction of the event, “Greater things have yet to come.  Greater things are still to be done through the UMC.”

The strategic mix of leaders identified current and prospective funding streams that can be matched to the needs of strategies toward growth, operated in an environment toward collaboration among various strategies and tactics toward growth at all levels of the Church in the USA, and planned an access to strategies for a broad and diverse array of churches, including those with multiracial, ethnic, rural, urban, town & country identities. Outcomes and next steps focused on a next gathering of social and commercial entrepreneurs, prophetic authors, and ecumenical strategists to share and think together about ways that the Church can learn from the economic community in terms of trends and strategies for growth. Rev. Jasmine Smothers, Associate DCM for existing Black Church Dev., Natural Church Development of the North Georgia Conference said, “The collaborative nature and willingness of the attendees to be present and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit through our conversation was refreshing. My prayer is that this event will be a catalyst for a shift in communication and start a movement that brings our denomination back to the heart of the matter - making NEW disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

Byrd Bonner, President of the United Methodist Church Foundation, on the outcome and deliverables for the event, said, “These were some of the best thinkers who implement best practices for growing the Church. The energy was contagious and Impact was the ideal laboratory. The Foundation is poised to become an integral part of helping the church make new disciples as we engage thought leaders in this robust discussion for our denomination. The UMC Foundation is dedicated to helping launch new ideas and to leading the conversation and the actions required in this field of ministry.” 

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., United Methodist Bishop of the Florida area and an event participant, said, “I was greatly encouraged by the conversation.  There was a willingness to listen to diverse voices which share a common hope—to discover creative ways to make new disciples through our local churches”.