USMB Leadership Board initiates review of conference vision and structures
By Myra Holmes
The USMB Leadership Board has hired consultant George Bullard to lead a review of conference vision and structures.
Steve Schroeder, board chair, says the LB views the retirement of executive director Ed Boschman as “a God-given opportunity to re-evaluate where we are as a family of churches and to discern together where God is leading us.”
Boschman retired in July; Don Morris is serving as interim executive director during the review. Schroeder says the LB didn’t want to simply hire another executive director with the same responsibilities and assume that nothing needs to be reviewed or changed.
Bullard is president of The Columbia Partnership (TCP), a Christian ministry organization focusing on ministry vitality of leaders, congregations, denominations and parachurch organizations. He is also general secretary for the North American Baptist Fellowship and senior editor for TCP’s Leadership Series.
“George loves the church, and he loves denominations,” says Schroeder. “Over the years, God has used George to come alongside dozens of different denominations of all sizes to help them grow in vitality and focus and health. This is not just a side hobby for him; this is his expertise.”
Bullard has provided in-depth consultation with more than 200 denominational organizations and led training for more than 500, helping with strategic planning, church growth, missional church and conflict management. His latest book is FaithSoaring Churches. For more on Bullard’s work, visit www.thecolumbiapartnership.org.
Bullard grew up in the home of a “denominational worker” and says he “learned at the breakfast, lunch and supper table the value of denominations.” In addition, he has worked for and within denominations for 30 years.
“It is deep within my spiritual and strategic passion to see denominational organizations transform,” Bullard says.
Schroeder says the Board hopes that the review will result in greater unity and clarity. “We expect that God will use this season to draw USMB leaders and agencies closer together as we meet, pray and discern together what God’s vision is for us going forward,” he says.
“We also expect to gain some clarity on our priorities and how we can partner with God in what he is doing in our USMB family,” says Schroeder. “Furthermore, we’re expecting to have a clearer picture of how our USMB Leadership Board and national staff can better partner with our district ministers to serve our local churches and pastors.”
Bullard talks about helping USMB leaders “paint beautiful pictures” of a possible future. “I hope I can be catalytic to open up the leadership to the possibilities God has for them and then step back and watch them be captivated by God’s vision for the future of Mennonite Brethren.”
Bullard says he views his role as one of servant and hopes participants in the process understand that clearly. “The worst thing would be that USMB re-images itself in any of the images I help paint for them,” he says. “USMB must be re-imaged in the image of God.”
Bullard will meet with a broad cross-section of key USMB leaders, first in a series of phone conversations, then in two gatherings this fall—in September and November. The hope is that those meetings will result in specific, agreed-upon goals.
Schroeder says the LB will communicate goals and strategies broadly to the constituency. “Once the picture of our ‘preferred future’ becomes clearer to us, we will eagerly share that will all those who care to join in,” he says.
Schroeder urges the USMB family to join in prayer for these fall gatherings: that God would reveal more of his heart for USMB churches, that the Holy Spirit would draw those who gather into unity and that God would give Bullard wisdom and discernment as he guides through this process.
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