Dreams and Visions Become Reality

Three pilot projects will kick start the implementation phase of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference’s (IKC) Dreams and Visions process. Those projects include the crafting of a simple, engaging conference mission statement, the creation of an innovative, conference-wide faith formation project and the launching of a conference-wide “bake-off” competition that will help conference leadership learn more about how we might shape conference programming into the future. These pilot projects will be completed by the end of March 2018.

In addition to these three projects, chosen by a subset of the Dreams and Visions Team in December, the conference staff and key leaders will experiment with a few other administrative tasks. A unified Committee on Ministry, comprised of representatives from all 8 associations, will conduct one candidate’s privilege of call process together. Paid staff will experiment with using volunteers to assist in collecting and inputting church and clergy data into the electronic database. Staff and board will also develop new forms of fundraising and giving to support wider church ministries in the IKC.

Conference leadership first embarked on the conference’s Dreams and Visions Process about two years ago. In the research phase, led by then Consulting Conference Minister Phil Hart and Associate Conference Minister Carrie Call, included group and individual conversations with local church leaders from every association. The Dreams and Visions Team arrived at the notion that the conference is a “Community of Communities” and has three priorities in conference work:

1.) Organization, Guidance and Accountability
2.) Community and Relationship
3.) Common Mission and Wider Service

These findings were presented to participants of the 2016 Annual Gathering. Soon after, the conference called Rev. Chad Abbott as the Designated Conference Minister and implemented a short-term, experimental staffing model that included, in addition to Abbott, a full-time conference administrator (Rebecca Braganza) and three quarter-time Associate Conference Ministers (Revs. Scott Bowie, Jim Harper and Dennis Frische-Mouri) who would cover the general support of congregations and clergy.

“One of the greatest assets to the experimental staffing model put into place was a clear decision to see the work of conference ministry as a collaborative effort. Our current staff has been instrumental in helping me unpack the structure and vision that is needed to move forward,” said Abbott. “We work together well and between those with institutional mileage and those of us newer to the IKC context, we have found unique ways to create an exciting working relationship that will easily carry over into whatever is coming next.”

Since then, Julie Hayden was added to the team as a part-time coordinator of annual gathering 2018. Rev. Nicole Havelka was also added to the team as Consulting Minister for Communications, Community Building and Conference Structure. She has taken the lead in furthering the work of the Dreams and Visions team.

Beginning in October, Havelka began assisting with conference communications including email, website and social media content. She has also reviewed the data from the Dreams and Visions process, interviewed all members of the Dreams and Visions Team as well as current staff members.

From that data review, Havelka noticed that people were very excited and hopeful about the Dreams and Visions process, but were frustrated that it did not result in more concrete next steps. The pilot projects address this concern by giving some concrete examples of how the conference can do more collaborative and adaptable ministries into the future. Learning from these pilots will tell the Board of Directors more about how to form a more permanent staffing model that is both sustainable and effective in supporting local church ministries.

“The fundamental question that underlies the data is about connection,” Havelka said. “People want to connect, but feel isolated in their local settings. Whatever ministries the conference does, it must foster connections between pastors, local churches and church-related organizations of the conference. There is a genuine desire to become a more collaborative and connected ‘community of communities.’”

After learnings are collected from the pilot projects, Abbott and Havelka will work together to present findings and a proposed staffing model first to the Board of Directors at its April meeting and then to the Annual Gathering June 1-2, 2018. http://www.ikcucc.org/openchurch/annualgathering

“These pilot projects are an exciting piece of the implementation process of our Dreams and Visions.  We are working hard to put words into action. We have had strong levels of participation from people across the conference who are eager to see us move forward into something new,” Abbott said. “The input of those who will be participating will be crucial to formulating our new structure. While I am grateful to all who are participating in these pilots, the one way the entire conference can play a role is through the work of prayer. Please pray for our staff as we discern this exciting way forward. Let's see what God may have in mind.”