'At Wesley there exists a desire to grow' Pastor’s State of the Church Report, 2011
Methodist pastor is required to give an account of a church’s pastoral ministry
as it relates to: providing support, guidance and training to the lay
membership in the church; ministering within the congregation and to the world;
and administering the temporal affairs of the congregation.
---The Book of Discipline, paragraph 340
Over the past
year, even with all my medical problems, Wesley has not missed a beat. Our leaders have stepped up, and more people
have volunteered to do more. In order to grow larger over the next few years,
we will start doing small groups. The
church has for generations functioned as a community-centered church, but now
the membership drives in from all over the metroplex. We will be moving forward
with the institution of our Small Group Ministry in January 2012 and
restructuring ourselves as a “regional” church.
The goal of this ministry will be to provide much needed multiple community-centered
ministry opportunities, reconnecting members to members, and exposing
non-members to the ministries of Wesley.
atmosphere at Wesley is one where there exists a desire to grow. Our new prayer
ministry will be covering the church with directed prayer and fasting. I believe that with positive, directed
action, a renewed vision and passion, and strong financial giving we will experience
As far as the
financial outlook of Wesley is concerned, we are stable and growing. We will be starting a series of lessons from
Crown Financial Ministries, having a more focused push on tithing, and doing
family and individual financial counseling. Our intended purpose will be to help our
members be more financially astute and enable them to give more for the long
Lay Leadership Team has agreed to hold three trainings throughout the year, and
our leaders will sign a covenant agreeing to attend at least 75 percent of our worship
services, become part of a small group, attend Bible study or Sunday School
class, and become current tithers or be moving on a defined path toward tithing.
see our future as bright and moving. The energy and synergy being exhibited now
is catching and overflowing. We will be
better and more vital disciples for Jesus Christ.
Wesley joins other black churches in learning to LEAD (Nov. 2011) By John W. Coleman, contributing reporter About 180 mostly African American church leaders—lay and clergy—gathered at the Baton Rouge downtown Marriott Hotel Nov. 11-12 (2011) to explore the fate of black United Methodist churches and to learn leadership skills and strategies needed to bolster their survival.
About 12 members of Wesley, many wearing shirts adorned with the church’s new logo, attended the Learning to L.E.A.D. event that focused on improving church Leadership, Evangelism, Administration and Discipleship. Some Wesley members sang in the mass choir that delighted participants and enhanced worship during the event. The Louisiana Conference’s Strengthening the Black Church initiative sponsored the gathering, which was planned and led by Wesley’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Joe Connelly, who chairs the SBC committee.
Cheryl Walker of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship reported on alarming trends among black churches, including a persistent decline in black membership in the South Central Jurisdiction and across the denomination.
Bishop Gregory Palmer, who leads the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and formerly chaired the Council of Bishops, followed with an explanation of the bishops’ Call to Action proposals to the 2012 General Conference. The proposals call for radical changes in the structure, polity, funding allocations and operations of the general church.
“The numbers don’t lie; we’re in decline,” said Walker. “Our congregations are aging, and we’re not bringing in sufficient numbers of new, younger members. That does not bode well for the future of our churches.”
Walker shared handouts documenting the decline, which does not appear as dire in Louisiana as elsewhere. One black church closed in our conference in 2009, leaving 88 black churches, almost two-thirds of them with 50 or fewer members. The South Central Jurisdiction trails far behind the thriving Southeast and barely behind the Northeast in black churches and black members. But Walker sees hope in recent efforts being taken in conferences like Louisiana to increase leadership assessment, training and accountability.
Bishop Palmer, who has led the development and churchwide promotion of the Call to Action proposals, explained and defended some of their controversial elements and discussed how black churches could be impacted by the changes. The proposals, to be amended and voted on at the denomination’s quadrennial legislative session in April 2012, would severely reduce the number and functions of general program agencies, while shifting about $60 million in agency funding back to conferences and local churches.
Palmer also preached during the gathering, urging black churches to strive for more stewardship accountability and more courageous and visionary approaches to doing evangelism. During the sending-forth service, the Rev. Don Cotrill, Director of Connectional Ministries in the Louisiana Conference, explained new measures underway to improve ministry effectiveness and accountability among Louisiana churches.
Attendees also engaged in intensive learning sessions in four subject areas related to the event title. Workshops on leadership, evangelism, communications (administration) and discipleship—led mostly by general agency staff and consultants—offered ideas and generated discussion on using innovation in these four areas to create new ministry possibilities.
“This L.E.A.D. event was one of several learning opportunities we will sponsor to address critical needs of our black churches, as we seek to turn around the decline we’re seeing,” said Dr. Connelly. “We’re drawing from the talent and resources in our conference and denomination, and in our churches themselves, that can help us work together, share ideas and make changes that are essential to our survival and growth as effective communities of faith and discipleship.”
Wesley United Methodist Church 544 Government Street, Baton Rouge LA 70802 * (225)343-8421 * firstname.lastname@example.org * Rev. Fredrick Sweetwyne, Pastor