Legal Issues, Tithes and Budgets, Oh My!
Many of the anxious calls I receive from pastors and leaders as a Conference Minister often sound like the refrain of the cast of the Wizard of Oz as they are in the dark forest on their way to the see the Wizard. Yet, instead of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" the refrain is more like "Legal Issues, Tithes and Budgets, Oh My!"
This year's Day of Discipleship is structured quite differently than past years for a particular reason. The purpose of Day of Discipleship is to offer pastors and church leaders the continuing education that could benefit the programs and mission of their churches. In planning and brainstorming for this year's event, the Conference Gatherings Team talked at great length about the most common questions, concerns, and challenges that pastors and church leaders face, do not know how to address, and don't know where to turn to get advice and help.
Out of such brainstorming sessions, the team decided to create an event that would include staff from the wider Church whose work and ministries enable our local churches to keep their buildings and congregations safe, whole, and equipped to do GOOD ministry. This year's Day of Discipleship will include four panel speakers that will travel across the country to be with Illinois South Conference pastors and church leaders. The speakers include: Heather Kimmel, UCC General Legal Counsel, Rev. Malcolm Himshoot, Minister for Ministerial Calls and Transitions (member of the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA) Team), Rev. Andy DeBraber, Major Gifts Officer (member of the Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication (OPTIC) team), and Frank Loiacono, from The Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ.
Each panelist will give a brief presentation about the resources they offer, and then there will be time for other panelists to weigh in on how they work together with those persons. Participants of the event will be able to ask general or specific questions. After each panelist speaks, we will be led in a time of "silly songs" with DuBois Center staff and chaplains, followed by an opportunity to hear about some of the new and EXCITING directions DuBois is embarking upon.
To give you an idea of what some of the panelists will be sharing with you...here is a sneak preview:
Heather Kimmel will be sharing some of the most common and most unusual sticky situations pastors and churches find themselves in and how legal counsel can be of help. (Spoiler alert: In the Conference office, it is not uncommon for us to reach out to Heather at least once a month.)
Rev. Malcolm Himshoot will invite us into a conversation about the new directions the Church is moving in terms of the search and call process and how the work of MESA directly helps churches in times of transition.
Rev. Andy DeBraber will offer tangible ways churches can talk about stewardship, as well as providing creative solutions for designing pledge drives or capital campaigns that help support the financial health of the local church.
During the final session, Frank Loiacono will speak not just about health insurance, but the exciting FREE programs and services the Pension Boards is offering to pastors and churches to encourage mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Now, I am going to be honest, I have overheard pastors say, "Oh my church is not sending leaders to Day of Discipleship because it sounds BORING!" I confess, at first glance the topics might not seem as gripping as "How to Grow Your Church in Five Easy Steps," BUT I can promise you the topics that will be addressed are relevant, timely, and vital to keep each of our churches doing what we are called to do-good ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.
So if you and your church have ever found yourselves singing the refrain of "Legal Issues, Tithes and Budgets, Oh My!" then you will NOT want to miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn what tools and resources are needed and available to your church.
I am looking forward to seeing YOU at Day of Discipleship!
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister