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From the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Movement, a group of theologically conservative pastors and leaders in the North Georgia Conference:

The next meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Movement will be [Tuesday morning] Feb. 24 at Norcross First UMC.

John Ed Mathison

John Ed Mathison

Dr. John Ed Mathison will speak on the state of the church in the aftermath of the 2008 General Conference, and he will address issues facing the renewal movement.

All are welcome to this open meeting, which will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude by 11:30 a.m. No reservations are required.

Norcross First is at 2500 Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross (Gwinnett County, north of Atlanta — map here).

The Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Movement was organized in 2004 to “promote the presence of leadership in the North Georgia Conference… committed to the renewal of historic Wesleyan standards and Biblical authority.”

John Ed Mathison “retired” last year following more than three decades as lead pastor of one of the UMC’s most vibrant churches — Frazer Memorial in Montgomery, Ala. He then launched John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries, a platform for teaching the “best practices” he has learned from 44 years as a ministry leader.

Previous WCRM speakers include Dr. Jimmy Buskirk and Dr. Bill Bouknight.

In June 2006, Dr. Mathison spoke on the topic of leadership at the North Georgia Conference Laity Luncheon. Use the audio player below for streaming audio of that address (24 min.), or download an mp3 (6MB). (Note: Audio is slightly distorted at points.)

The John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries’ blog is here.


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Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ‘08
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The UM General Board of Global Ministries and The Mission Society are jointly sponsoring (for the first time) a missions conference: “Beyond These Walls.” The conference, hosted by McEachern UMC in the Atlanta area, begins next Thurs. Oct. 2 and concludes Sat. Oct. 4.

Speakers include North Georgia Bishop Mike Watson; Eddie Fox, director of World Methodist Evangelism; Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio; and John Ed Mathison of Frazer Memorial UMC in Alabama. The conference also will feature more than 30 workshops.

From the Beyond These Walls web site:

[We] share a vision of the connectional system being the means through which the United Methodist Church becomes once again the powerful force for the cause of Christ that it was during the time of John Wesley.

Some see a future of decline, but we see a bright future — a future where Christ’s church is refocused on its divinely appointed mission. A church that is the Lord’s holy instrument, working with His Holy Spirit in reaching out, touching, loving, teaching, redeeming, and making disciples of Christ Jesus — a Church transformed by missions and a Church transforming the world through missions.

Registration details | Directions

At the June 2008 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference, McEachern pastor Jim Higgins and member Jeff Jernigan gave additional details about the conference. Listen below (1:45).

A video promo is here (Windows Media).

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This week and next, MethodistThinker.com is offering a retrospective on Bishop Lindsey Davis’ 12-year tenure as the leader of the United Methodist Church’s North Georgia Conference. (He will become the bishop of the Kentucky Conference on Sept. 1.)

Since being assigned to North Georgia in 1996, Bishop Davis has used his episcopal office to promote leadership development, church planting, and mission outreach, leading the North Georgia Conference to become the largest United Methodist Conference in the U.S.

In 2000, he presented a 20-year vision for North Georgia to delegates attending the Conference’s annual session. Below is an abbreviated transcript of his remarks, delivered on June 13, 2000 at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia.

When I came to North Georgia in 1996, I inherited leadership of what I consider to be the strongest Conference in all of Methodism.

Although we are far from all that God calls us to be, we enjoy a history of excellence in ministry, a wealth of clergy and lay leader talent, a deep commitment to Jesus Christ by over 950 congregations, and we have record of membership growth unsurpassed by any other area over the past 25 years….

2000 Logo—N. Ga. Annual Conference

2000 Logo—North Ga. Annual Conference

Our local churches understand that making disciples for Jesus Christ is our primary task — but knowing it and doing it are not always the same thing.

While we rejoice in our membership growth of over 26,000 persons this past quadrennium, it grieves my heart that one-third of our churches in 1999 — one-third of our churches — did not have a single profession of faith last year. And it grieves my heart that 50 percent of our churches had “one profession of faith or less” last year.

So we rejoice in our blessings, but have no reason to be cocky or complacent. With the population growth in the 72 counties of North Georgia, this is truly harvest time for the kingdom of God in our area.

Working with over 80 key lay and clergy leaders for the past two-and-a-half years in the leadership forum, and in consultation with the staffing task force…we put before you today a vision for the future….

By the year 2020, every congregation will be making disciples for Jesus. Every congregation will be making disciples for Jesus — led by by effective and spiritually maturing laity and pastors.

How can we ensure this vision of 100 percent effectiveness?

Well, we believe that our human, financial, and spiritual resources must be focused over the next 20 years in three primary areas: leadership development, establishing new faith communities, and birthing a steady stream of transformational mission efforts.

The first one: leadership development.

Weak leaders produce weak churches.

Where we can appoint effective, spiritually mature pastors to churches and they have the opportunity to work in partnership with effective laity, our congregations always flourish.

Two: planting new churches.

The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. All churches can lead the lost to Christ, but new churches organized around evangelism reach unchurched persons better than established worshiping communities. Much of our growth over the past 15 years has, in fact, come from the new churches which have been planted through church development.

The challenge, it seems to me, is to create 200 new, biblically-based, vision-driven, mission-minded, community-focused, culturally-relevant, ethically-grounded, cutting edge, well-equipped, spiritually healthy, Holy Spirit-vibrant United Methodist congregations in North Georgia by the year 2020.

If you looked at demographics and our growth patterns, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that almost 100 of our 950 congregations are teetering on the brink of collapse. Many of those congregations will not be with us 20 years from now.

If we’re going to plant churches, and if we’re going to evangelize the 72 counties of North Georgia, we have to not only replace those congregations, but we have to build 100 more….

Third: birthing new mission opportunities.

In some sense, we in North Georgia live of the generational equity of parents and our grandparents. What new United Methodist ministries will be started by our generation? What new United Methodist institutions of service, and compassion, and caring, and love will be built by our generation?

What needs is God calling us to meet in the 21st century here in North Georgia and around the world?…

Just as there is a need in our day for model teaching churches to lead the way into new and dynamic ministry, I believe that there is also within United Methodism, a need for a model teaching Annual Conference — an Annual Conference that is known far-and-wide for its commitment to excellence in ministry, not for the sake of pride, but for the sake of Christ.

A model teaching Annual Conference — breaking new ground for others.

Why should that Annual Conference not be us? What Annual Conference is better positioned to do that for the whole church than us?

I believe God is calling North Georgia to give such leadership to our denomination.


Related posts
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘The gospel in an age of skepticism’
Conversations with Bishop Lindsey Davis
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘The primary task of the Church’
An interview with Bishop Lindsey Davis
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘A fully engaged laity’
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘Whatever it takes to reach the lost’
Bishop Lindsey Davis: The Church in time of war
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement
Bishop Lindsey Davis on the role of a bishop

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