Enhancing and Expanding the Gospel of Jesus in the United Methodist Tradition
In February of 2023, shortly after being assigned as the episcopal leader of the North and Central Texas Conferences by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. began to work with clergy and lay leaders of both conferences to determine how to best move our disciple-making mission forward in the short- and long-term.
With an eye on what the world of 2050 will be like and need, the conference leadership set out to cast a vision that would energize and guide the people and local churches in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In August of 2023, the Central and North Texas Cabinets were joined by members of the Northwest Texas Cabinet for a vision retreat. After hearing from visioning experts, reviewing current and forecasted demographic data for each conference and much prayer, the set a vision and supporting strategic priorities for the conferences.
We are followers of Jesus, seeking the loving, just and free world God imagines for all people.
Our Strategic Priorities
- Multiply Jesus Followers
- Champion Children and Youth
- Maximize Care and Healing
- Pursue and Embrace Diversity
- Tell Our Story
Another key initiative set forth by Bishop Saenz shortly following his assignment to the North and Central Texas Conferences was to consider how to unify and harness the collective resources of the Central, North and Northwest Texas Conferences to best serve the region. By working together as one body with a unified vision, we will be well-positioned to multiply Jesus followers as a unified conference following the widely anticipated adoption of new conference boundaries by the 2024 South Central Jurisdictional Conference.
The process for exploring unification began in earnest in February 2023. Throughout the spring and summer of 2023, Bishop Saenz and clergy and lay leaders from all three conferences worked together on a unification plan set for the second half of the year and into 2024.
The conferences appointed Unification Project Managers Lisa Gafford (Central Texas Conference), Tim Griffy (North Texas Conference) and Randy Stutes (Northwest Texas Conference) and contracted independent consultant John Wimberly and a team from GCFA led by Caitlin Congdon. The consultants were charged with researching the conferences’ current organizational structure and culture, conducting interviews with conference staff, clergy and lay leadership and providing recommendations as how the conferences can organize moving forward.
Dr. Wimberly and the GCFA team delivered their reports in October 2023. Common themes revealed in both reports include prioritization of:
- Focusing on ministry with younger generations
- Actively engaging in community mission work
- Building connections within the larger geographic Annual Conference
- Prioritizing campus ministry, including commensurate funding
- Enhancing clergy and laity leadership development and programs that focus on growth strategies
- Supporting ministry in rural areas
- Investing in clergy wellbeing
After receiving these reports and summaries from the Unification Project Managers, the Cabinets began developing an organizational structure that supports the conferences’ strategic priorities and focuses on collaboration, communication and the flexibility needed to adapt to our rapidly changing world.
Unification Implementation Team formed, comprising representatives from the Central, North and Northwest Texas conferences. This team will develop an Organizational Plan that includes rationale, structure compliance with The Book of Discipline, staffing and implementation details, such as recommending a name for the new conference. That team is expected to begin its work in January 2024.
Finalize recommended staffing and structure, with executive director positions identified and filled in early 2024. The conferences have contracted with GCFA to provide Human Resource counsel to assist in this process.
Organizational Plan submitted for approval at the Central and North Texas Annual Conferences. The Northwest Texas Conference will also vote on unification at their Annual Conference meeting.
Conference staffing changes affecting clergy team members will occur alongside local church appointments on July 1.
South Central Jurisdictional Conference will consider and vote on the unification proposal. If approved, a bishop will be assigned to the new conference effective Sept. 1.
Organizational Plan moves into implementation.
Staffing transitions begin and run throughout the remainder of 2024.
Special Called Unifying Session of the new Conference to ratify consolidation and approve a budget and conference leadership.
Jan. 1, 2025
New unified Conference will be fully operational and engaged in our mission of Multiplying Jesus Followers according to our vision and strategic priorities.