As of July 1, our District Superintendent now serves both Arlington and Alexandria Districts. This will no doubt require changes in how we “do business.” To help prepare for some of those changes, I sought the wisdom of our associate lay leaders, as well as several current and former district superintendents. What would be helpful to DS Sarah Calvert as we move forward?
First, pray! Pray for our churches, our staff, our lay leaders, and our district superintendent. Discern our gifts and talents and pray for opportunities to use them.
This new arrangement of eight district superintendents covering sixteen districts will require patience, grace and cooperation between clergy, laity, lay leaders and district superintendents. Using the district superintendent as the first stop for questions or concerns will not be efficient use of their time and resources. Bring decisions and recommendations, not just problems. Yes, they will always be willing to help and equip, and to be the backstop for emergencies. But to live into their role as mission strategist for the districts will require a change in availability. In person meetings will take longer to arrange. Virtual meetings will continue to be the norm. And remember we are blessed with wonderful bi-district staff members, who are great resources as well. Utilize those gifts and talents.
Local churches need to rise to the challenges with creativity and teamwork. Laity and clergy are equal partners, together building what God is doing next in the church. That ownership of structure and agency means taking advantage of new trainings and opportunities, making continual learning part of the lifecycle of the congregation. Our laity can model a ministry of presence, unity, and teamwork, embodying the mission of the church and helping to build God’s kin-dom in our midst. We are present and active in our neighborhoods and communities, we can be the hands and feet of God, loving our neighbors, being the church.
Finally, I asked DS Sarah Calvert what would be helpful from laity and clergy. She asked for stories of how people’s lives are being transformed, and how we are meeting people in our communities. Share how people in our churches are using their God-given gifts and strengths and experiences to change their corner of the world. And be ready to respond to a call for “help wanted”, ready to deploy those gifts and strengths for the work of the district and conference.