In early June, both the Memphis Annual Conference and the Tennessee Annual Conference voted in support of the Plan of Union for the new conference. A proposed budget for 2022 also was approved by both annual conferences.
The next step is to present this Plan of Union to the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church (SEJ) at a Special Called Session on July 21, 2021. The purpose of the special session is to vote on our proposed resolution to unite the Memphis Annual Conference and the Tennessee Annual Conference into the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference.
Provided that the resolution is passed by SEJ, we can then call a special joint Organizational Meeting with the 2021 voting annual conference members from Memphis and Tennessee conferences to approve nominations, a revised budget and standing rules for the future Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference. This meeting is tentatively scheduled for December 4, 2021.
As approved by both annual conferences, the Plan of Union directs the chair of the nominating committee to select 6 members of each legacy nominating committee to present a slate of leaders to begin on January 1.
The target date for the new conference to be operational is January 1, 2022.
During the Tennessee and Memphis annual conferences in September 2020, members voted to continue to take all possible steps toward the formation of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference (TWK) while waiting for the official step to be voted upon by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference which was postponed until July 2021.
As 2021 began, the adoption of the new conference ministry structure was put into motion. It is important to note that the delays of the postponed General and Jurisdictional conferences have not thwarted the work of becoming a new conference. God has continued to equip us through the next steps as we strive for our mission together. There are still many steps to discover, but we have taken several together during the first three months of 2021.
The Connectional Table
The Connectional Table is the vision casting body of the future TWK Conference, made up of the bishop, the assistant to the bishop, the dean of the appointive cabinet, the strategy team leaders, lay leader, and representative from the Committee on Episcopacy. Current staff who support the Connectional Table and participate ex officio in the meetings are the treasurer, director of Communications, director of Office of Leadership Formation and Development, and director of Connectional Ministries.
The Connectional Table has now met twice, developing a covenant that comes from God’s grace and trust of one another, learning by studying Tempered Resilience by Tod Bolsinger, and deeply diving into the Mission, Vision, Values, and strategic foci that were adopted by the annual conferences.
The strategy teams also have begun the process of leading and are at different stages of development. The Communications strategy team began their work eighteen months ago. This has already led to nimbly pivoting to area-wide communications. Strategy team leaders have participated in an orientation and have, in turn, led an orientation for all of their team members.
They are now beginning to meet to lay the foundation for the strategy work that lies ahead.
Through beginning this process, each strategy team will work to connect with the ministry and program teams they are guiding, discovering their role with the input of those ministry and program teams. The process of living in a new conference ministry structure is messy. However, it is messy in an aligned direction.
2022 Budget Process
The TWK Transition team has launched a process in collaboration with the legacy Councils on Finance and Administration (CFAs) to develop a budget for 2022. It takes into account the current context of our world, local churches, pastors, and laity. This process relies on the TWK mission and vision which the annual conferences set in motion.
New Conference materials (made available for annual conference in 2020)