Rev. John Davis (as he is concluding his service on July 31) and I are in the season of Summer Conversations. We are enjoying the conversations with the full and part-time pastors around the West District, as we are learning more about the complexities of the pandemic, but also about the challenges of being a pastoral leader during these ever-evolving times. While Rev. Davis (and Rev. Waston beginning August 1) and I are unable to be in all places around the West District, we have implemented a model of ministry that curates a culture of care and collegiality, but also a mode of resourcing for local congregations, through Connecting Shepherds.

Connecting Shepherds are persons who serve as a member of the team to assist the Conference Superintendent, in ensuring the care of pastors and congregations, ensuring the mission and vision are in the forefront and ensuring leadership among clergy and congregations are maintained. Additionally, below are the values that will be upheld by each of the five Connecting Shepherds in the West District.

Values of Emphasis for Connecting Shepherds:

  • Ensure the care of people (pastors and congregations)
  • Ensure mission and vision is at the forefront
  • Ensure leadership among clergy and churches is maintained

I am grateful for Rev. Erin Michelle Weaver (Linden UMC), Rev. Brian Campbell (Crawfordsville First UMC), Pastor Rick Pressel (Folsom Memorial UMC), Rev. Lance Newton (Sullivan UMC), and Pastor Jason Dean (Brazil Union UMC) who began their extended service as the West District’s Connecting Shepherds. They began July 1 contacting the assigned part-time local pastors to make an introduction and extend care. These Connecting Shepherds are to encourage the Encouragers to better equip them for greater Kin-dom work. We anticipate that the culture around the West District will begin shifting to see the Connection at Work and collectively we will live out the vision of being Willing in our Missional Service and Way-Out in our Witness for Jesus Christ!

In Service and On Mission,

Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving West District