Discerning God’s vision for the Foundation and its future

What is God calling us to do in this time and place? What is it that we are really supposed to be about? Your voices helped us respond to these questions.

At the November board meeting, President David Snipes shared the findings of a strategic visioning initiative that will enable the Foundation to evolve to meet the needs of those we serve.

Conversations with 100+ clergy and lay leaders from across the Conference revealed great appreciation for the Foundation’s ministry offerings. Constituents also identified areas where more focus is needed: 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.

“This is such an important time in the life of the United Methodist Church as we consider what God is calling us to do at this time and in this place,” David said in describing the findings. “As we listened to laity and clergy alike from throughout the Conference, the input we received provides valuable information that enables us to move forward in ways that are not only helpful, but also fulfill our mission.”

WHAT WE LEARNED:

The Foundation is known by constituents for its exemplary character; ability to think and act in creative, outside-the-box ways; and commitment to help others grow, including through financial support of ministries beyond the Foundation. When asked what comes to mind when they think of the Foundation, listening group participants said:

Money – Swag – “Best kept secret” – Giving Back – Caring – Trustworthy – Professional – Hospitable – Generous – Expected Leader – Excellence – Reynolds Ministries – Clergy Training – Patient – Calming Influence – Innovation – Forward-looking – High Impact Programs – Best Interest of Others – Here for All – Stability – Partner

Constituents feel very strongly that the Foundation should maintain its historical, United Methodist roots with special attention to the Western NC Conference. However, they support the idea of engaging other expressions of faith with which the UMC is “in full communion” as approved by the General Conference.

Constituents shared several suggestions to strengthen the ministries of the Foundation and Western North Carolina Conference:

HOW WE GOT HERE:

Historically, Foundation leaders have recognized a need, discerned if the need could be fulfilled through Foundation ministries, then gathered the financial and human resources to move forward. Often, forward movement was initiated by a strategic visioning/planning process that would be held every 5-10 years. In the interim, check-ins or updates would be performed by key leaders in conversation with stakeholders.

The Foundation’s last major strategic visioning process was conducted in 2010 and resulted in the affirmation of our current mission/vision statement:

The United Methodist Foundation is a ministry of the Church for the Church whose mission is to build the Church for generations to come. We fulfill this mission by investing in people, churches and related institutions, and innovation. We envision a Church where people live-out their discipleship through the wise stewardship of their God-given resources.

The current success of the Foundation as the largest among its peers in the Southeastern Jurisdiction and the third largest in the United Methodist connection (in total assets) is largely attributable to the strength of the mission/vision statement and adherence thereto. It has served us well and has been our guiding star as we have answered God’s call. Steady, prayerful leaders – contractors, volunteers, and staff – have enabled us to move far beyond what many envisioned.

As with any organization, the Foundation is a living, breathing organism that is susceptible to the forces beyond itself. Changes not only in the secular world, but also the world of United Methodism, prompted Foundation leaders to consider the future of the Foundation when taking into consideration present circumstances.

The Foundation’s core values of Excellence, Integrity, Innovation and Relationships will remain the same as they define the heart of who we are and who we believe we are called to be.

PRESENT:

The Foundation staff, with the blessing and through the direction of the UMF Executive Team, began the strategic visioning process in fall 2022.

Initially, Rev. Brad Farrington worked with the staff and administered the Enneagram iEQ9 personality assessment tool. Not only did the individual staff members engage in self-discovery, but also learned team dynamics as we considered tools that will be needed for the future.

Once this work was completed, Jennifer Davis, Foundation board member and organizational consultant, began working with the staff to create a covenant that states our guiding principles as we work in community with one common goal – to discern what it is God is calling us to do at this time. The covenant states:

Because we are committed to serving one another, we covenant to:

This covenant has been signed by all current staff members and is referenced during various meetings. The goal moving forward is for the covenant to be used not only by staff, but for the various teams and full board.

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