Foundation brings steadying influence as UMC looks to future

Seeking to model adaptive leadership in a season of change, the Foundation on Saturday announced a major contribution to the United Methodist movement in Western North Carolina.

Included in the annual operating budget is a 10% tithe of income to the Conference for $201,000, an expression of gratitude for a long-standing partnership. In addition, the Board of Directors has designated $36,000 from 2023 Excess Operating Cash to support the WNCC Bishop’s Initiative, thus bringing the total to $237,000.

Bishop Ken Carter told Annual Conference attendees the funds will be used to strengthen town-center churches and expand efforts to support people who have experienced trauma because of racism and exclusion.

Bottom row from left: Jennifer Davis, Wanda Musgrave, Leesa Sluder, Anne Martin, Tom Latimer, Matt Sink, David Snipes, David Mildenberg, Glenn Kinken

Peacemakers and agents of positive change

The gift underscores the Foundation’s commitment to be part of the bright future God has in mind for the people called Methodists.  President David Snipes shared a number of other highlights during an Annual Meeting of the Membership held Saturday morning in Stuart Auditorium.

The timing coincides with the conclusion of a historic General Conference. At a worldwide gathering in Charlotte, the church’s governing body voted to remove restrictive language that was harmful to the LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, delegates honored the freedom and conscience of local churches to do ministry in their own contexts while remaining part of the connection.

The outcome capped a season in which a quarter of the denomination’s U.S. churches left through disaffiliation.

“In times such as these,” David told the audience, “the Foundation’s mission of building the Church for generations to come becomes even more critical — walking alongside our ministry partners, ensuring they have the resources to adapt.”

Spirit-led vision for the future

Anne Martin, chair of the Board of Directors, described a recently completed strategic visioning initiative to discern God’s vision for our future. The plan grew out of staff self-reflection work and conversations with 100+ clergy and lay leaders from across the Conference. The resulting blueprint will enable the Foundation to evolve and keep pace with the needs of those we serve.

Among the priorities are individual and corporate stewardship education; leadership training for lay people in the local church; and professional development for clergy in the middle and later stages of their careers.

During the business portion, delegates elected Anne Martin, Brad Chapman, Jennifer Davis, Will Rucker and Matt Sink to the Foundation’s Board of Directors as part of the Class of 2027. Dr. Irish Spencer will fill a vacancy in the Class of 2025.

The Foundation also recognized Rob Byrd, who passed away unexpectedly in October 2023. Rob, a member of Myers Park United Methodist Church, contributed to the Foundation’s growth with his expertise as a CPA and partner at Grant-Thornton.

The theme for this year’s presentation, Unity + Purpose, was inspired by Romans, Chapter 12, Verse 5: “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Anne Martin called it a fitting way to describe how the Foundation board and leadership views its calling.

“After everything our denomination has endured, many are asking, “Who are we now?” and “What does the future look like?” Anne said. “The Foundation stands with you in taking on these questions with courage and conviction.”

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