NEPTUNE – After the 2017 Annual Conference in May, the strategic planning committee was given the bold task to pull together a five year strategic plan to take Greater New Jersey into 2023. The strategic planning committee comprised of 12 laity and clergy leaders from across the conference worked this summer to lay the ground work and research to embark on the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan to be presented for consideration at the 2018 Annual Conference session.
The team met in June and July to gather research, results and statistical reports and to lay out plans for surveying lay and clergy throughout Greater New Jersey.
Susan Beaumont, a consultant, pastor and coach who led the 2017 Bishop Clergy Convocation about tending the soul, is facilitating the planning team meetings. With her consultation, the planning team determined to use the appreciative inquiry process to lead planning. Appreciative inquiry is a process that uses the best of what is in order to imagine what could be.
Rev. Hector Burgos, Connectional Ministries Director and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee said, “Appreciative Inquiry builds on what is working so that we have a direction. We are thankful that Susan Beaumont has led us in this direction to address our next steps by building on what is working.”
The team crafted an online survey, emailed it to church leadership and clergy and posted it in The GNJ Digest weekly e-newsletter and on the GNJ website. In addition, the team set up six listening sessions across GNJ. Listening sessions used guided conversations to using appreciative inquiry.
“I was a part of developing the first strategic plan but I thought the listening sessions this time were more productive,” said Rosa Williams, GNJ’s Lay Leader. “It gave people the opportunity to focus on what we are doing well and how we can improve and not focus on the problems.”
During the process, the planning team heard concern that respondents needed a space to share not just what is working but what is not working. After the first group of sessions, the team added questions for consideration on the GNJ website to address this concern.
After the listening sessions, the planning team read and coded each worksheet. This information was combined with the survey results and presented to the Connectional Table at the GNJ Conclave last month.
Waleska Trinidad, pastor of Primera Iglesia Metodista de Wesley in Trenton and member of Strategic Planning Team said, “We took time to listen to the responses. We are grateful for the honesty in the listening sessions and on the surveys. It gave us a better view of where we need to go.”
The Connectional Table affirmed the work to date from the planning team. The planning team is reconvening in October to talk about next steps. The team will take the information presented to prepare a first draft of the plan in November and December. The schedule includes drafting elements of the plan for feedback from the conference in January. The goal is to present the final plan to the Connectional Table in March so that it can be included in the pre-conference journal as legislation for consideration in Annual Conference 2018.
Burgos said, “I give thanks to God for the leadership of the conference and the Connectional Table as we discern what God has next for our ministry in Greater New Jersey.”