By the Rev. Dr. Charles Ledlum-Bates, District Superintendent of Rappahannock River and York River Districts
Availability To Serve
The LORD’s messenger appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judges 6:12 ff., CEB).
Last October, the District Initiative (DI) was launched. The DI is a vision that captures a new and revitalized purpose to discover, develop and employ fervent partnership opportunities between laity and clergy that enrich our connection.
For the past six months, leaders of the Rappahannock and York River districts have come together to formulate plans to achieve the goal of creating the proposed new district. During this time, we had five Listening Posts to inform clergy and laity about the DI’s goal and objectives and solicit their feedback. We created an organizational chart to show the function and flow of the proposed new district. We also created sub-groups that included the Board of Missions, Board of Ministry, Finance, Trustees, Building and Locations, and Committee on Superintendency, to discuss preliminary staffing issues. We also created a sub-group to explore a name for the proposed new district. Each sub-group has reported its findings. We will reconvene the larger workgroup shortly, incorporate the feedback in our work, and produce a final proposal.
The final proposal will represent a cross-section of both districts. These individuals have worked hard, embracing some challenging circumstances of the unknown. One of the challenges is their limitation due to COVID-19. However, they discovered that it was only when they explored ministry options with each other during their Covenant or Cluster groups’ meeting, that they were able to get ideas on how to continue doing ministry in an incredibly challenging season. They gleaned creative ideas from each other through their collaboration. Some taught others how to live stream and conduct Facebook worship. Today, many of our clergy are more equipped on utilizing platforms that they did not think they could use. That is the beauty of our connection, when clergy and laity collaborate.
The DI is an effort to build on the foundation of these connections, partnerships, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. This effort will also expand our capacity to engage each other and reach our communities. Both clergy and laity have shown great resilience, and I believe that we can continue with a similar spirit. Our spirits connect with faith. And if our faith is anchored in an active relationship with the LORD, we will move forward in a shared ministry that transforms lives.
Any ministry that transforms should be a welcome gesture. “Let us be sold for the kingdom” (Lewis, 2022). God is looking for those who are available to just do the next thing! The next thing for us is the DI that requires the availability of all clergy and laity. I am not calling upon us to be right in everything we do. I am calling us to be active participants and effective leaders (Eberhardt, 2022). Each of you is a gift to my leadership, our district, and our conference. I envision us as a huge family tree of faith. Because we come from divergent backgrounds, persuasions, and professions, we make a talented and effective team that can accomplish the work of the DI.