By Pam Ekey
The Missouri Conference is expanding its focus on the development of church leaders by folding the Center for Pastoral Excellence into the new Center for Leadership Excellence, according to Karen Hayden, director of Pastoral Excellence. The goal of the new center is to increase new missional leaders from 0 to 400 in the next year. It emphasizes the need to develop both clergy and lay leaders throughout the conference.
“A missional leader moves from meeting God to an active, growing and authentic faith in Jesus Christ,” she said. Those leaders in turn mentor more new leaders and help to identify,encourage the develop leaders across the conference.
“Can you identify a missional leader in your context?” she asked, “We in the conference office cannot contact all of them. We rely on you to identify and mentor new leaders.” The Center of Leadership Excellence will provide resources for the support and development of new leaders through the conference office and on the web site.
In response to feedback across the conference, a new abbreviated course of study curriculum has been developed for part-time ministry leaders. It is designed for part-time local pastors who have completed Licensing School as well as laypersons who may serve as congregational leaders, provide pulpit supply or become Certified Lay Minsters. Many of the classes can be completed online.
The Board of Ordained Ministry continues to encourage and train persons for licensing and ordination as Deacons and Elders but there is a recognition that additional support is needed for existing clergy. “Our clergy are doing relatively well, but social conditions are becoming more challenging. The ecosystem is not conducive to our clergy’s mental health,” Hayden said.
A new initiative called Re is designed to give pastors and ministerial leaders an opportunity to reflect, re-center and reclaim their commitment to God and ministry. Provisional clergy will be enrolled in the program as part of their preparation for ordination. The program will also be available for full-time clergy who have been in ministry for at least five years. The first class will begin in August.