Congregational Development Report to the 2008 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge and over the past decade has provided leadership to the general church as we sustained growth in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about one hundred churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2007.

In 2007, the Office of Congregational Development co-sponsored with Windsor United Methodist Church located in the Wilmington District an event for small membership churches called Fan the Flame. This event will be supported again in 2008. The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide demographic research for local churches, districts and conference agencies. Data for these studies are supplied by MissionInsite, Inc. and the Office of Research for the General Board of Global Ministries at no cost to conference users.

In forty years, sixty-five attempts have been made to plant new churches within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic-Latino, African-American, Korean, Native American, and African. More than 72% of these attempts have been successful. In 2008, several more new churches will be planted following appointments to be announced by Bishop Gwinn at the conclusion of annual conference.

The Ten Dollar Club is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson
Stephen C. Compton, Executive Director, Office of Congregational Development

Congregational Development Report to the 2007 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the
“mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge, as we continue to lead most conferences in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance growth.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about 100 churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2006. The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide through its annual contract with Percept Group, Inc., up-to-date community demographic data, accessible on-line and without cost, to all local churches (www.link2lead.com).

In a little more than a decade, about 40 new churches have been started within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, Korean, Native American, and Asian. Although not all of the new church projects initiated have been successful, the newest churches in the North Carolina Conference continue to lead the way in membership growth.

After a season of prayerful reflection we are moving again with new church launches as we celebrate the formation of Shepherd’s House in Durham and Greater Heights in East Clayton. In the coming conference year we anticipate launching new churches in the Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Wilmington districts.

We celebrate with the A Time to Grow funding initiative and the Congregational Development Fund, Inc. the creation of the Academy for Leadership Excellence with the hiring of Dr. Irene Brownlee as the executive director. The quiet efforts of laity and clergy to the A Time to Grow campaign continues to identify laity whose generosity with their wealth, combined with their belief in the value of strong churches and effective church leaders, will advance and strengthen local church ministry and new church planting ministry in the North Carolina Conference. To date, about $1.6 million has been committed by North Carolina Conference laity.

The Ten Dollar Club is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction. Each year, one grant is made to assist in the establishment of a new church outside of the U.S. In 2006 and 2007, grants were made to build a new church and to put roofs on others new churches in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with ZOE Ministry.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson
Stephen C. Compton, Executive Director, Office of Congregational Development

Congregational Development Report to the 2006 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge, leading most conferences in professions of faith, new member, and worship attendance growth.

Five decades ago Bishop Garber helped birth in this annual conference a spirit for planting new churches. The 101 churches planted since that time represent over ten percent of our 840 churches in the annual conference. In the year 2004 these churches represent 24% of conference’s worship attendance, 31% of the professions of faith, and paid 22% of the total apportionments. Worship attendance is one measurement of a church’s health and 35 of these churches are among our top 120 churches with more than 200 persons in worship each week. Of these churches, 7 have more than 300 in worship, 5 report more than 400 in worship, 10 see over 500 in worship, and 1 has over 1,500 persons in worship. The fruit of living into our Lord’s Great Commission brings energy and life to our annual conference.

In 2003-04, the Congregational Development Fund, Inc., with the support of Bishops Edwards and Gwinn, and an outstanding team of laity and clergy, launched A Time to Grow funding initiative. To date, about $1 million has been committed by members of the initiative’s steering committee members. A Time to Grow initiative continues to solicit support from interested laity for the Academy of Leadership Excellence in one-on-one and district cultivation events. A national search has been conducted for a person to serve as the executive director of the Academy for Leadership Excellence and a pilot launch of the Academy is expected to occur in the next year.

We recognize the mission of engaging a multi-cultural community that Reconciliation UMC in Durham is undertaking and will celebrate their chartering as a church at the 2006 annual conference. We appreciate the experimenting of beginning emerging ministries within existing churches and facililities. The Shepherd’s Table faith community reaches over 80 Zimbabwean immigrants each week and is hosted by McMannen UMC.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about 100 churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2005. In the past decade, 35 new churches have been started within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, Korean, Native American, and Asian.

The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide through its annual contract with Percept Group, Inc., up-to-date community demographic data, accessible on-line and without cost, to all local churches (www.link2lead.com).

The Ten Dollar Club, now in its 53rd year, is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson

Congregational Development Report to the 2005 NC Annual Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge, leading most conferences in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance growth.

It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about 100 churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2004.

In the past decade, 35 new churches have been started within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, Korean, Native American, and Asian. Although not all of the new church projects initiated have been successful, the newest churches in the North Carolina Conference continue to lead the way in membership growth.

The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide through its annual contract with Percept Group, Inc., up-to-date community demographic data, accessible on-line and without cost, to all local churches (www.link2lead.com). In 2003-04, the Congregational Development Fund, Inc., with the support of Bishops Edwards and Gwinn, and an outstanding team of laity and clergy, launched A Time to Grow funding initiative. This quiet effort is aimed at identifying laity whose generosity with their wealth, combined with their belief in the value of strong churches and effective church leaders, will advance and strengthen local church ministry and new church planting ministry in the North Carolina Conference. To date, about $1 million has been committed by members of the initiative’s steering committee members. Initially, available funding will be used to create an outstanding new church leadership academy, and to purchase land for new churches.

The Ten Dollar Club, now in its 52nd year, is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction. Each year, one grant is made to assist in the establishment of a new church outside of the U.S. In 2004, a grant was made to a new church in Moscow, Russia, and in 2005, a new church will be aided in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with ZOE Ministry.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson

Congregational Development Report to the 2004 NC Annual Conference

The commission supports our annual conference as we respond together to Jesus’ challenge to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our congregational responses reflect the diversity of the people called United Methodists and the geography we are called to serve. Many congregations are deployed to serve rural communities and small towns that are rapidly becoming urban and suburban centers. Today about half of the people called Methodist in our annual conference worship in 120 of our 840+ churches – this is a shift we are still trying to understand.

This year we continue to invite our conference to substantially increase membership in the Ten Dollar Club. This 50-year-old venture in our conference provides grants to start new ministries across the state and launch missions in other nations as well. We hold before the annual conference an ongoing goal of starting 5 new churches annually, utilizing the resources made available from Ten Dollar Club grants and other investments held by the Commission. In the coming years this will require a greater commitment from the Commission as we move to start new churches in areas where start-up costs are pushing beyond the reach of our current funding processes. To this end we are supporting the emerging work of the Congregational Development Fund, Inc. as it engages in a campaign to provide an increase in support to new faith communities.

As we ponder the changes in North Carolina’s cultural climate, we are reminded of the challenge to each of us to reach people for Jesus Christ. Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations call us beyond the bounds of who we used to encounter a new reality for many of our churches – the nations have come to our backyard. We celebrate the growth in membership, worship and Sunday school attendance in many of our churches. The Office of Congregational Development continues to assist nearly 100 churches each year. The assistance provided includes demographic research, local consultations, training and planning services for existing congregations. We are excited about the Wake Circles of Ministry in the Raleigh District and the launching of community ministry centers in the Rocky Mount District. These initiatives are in response to our bishop’s challenge to open 20 new faith communities in places affected by poverty by the year 2004.

Again, the work of the Office and Commission on Congregational Development is varied as we seek to serve rural, small town, suburban and urban churches in various socio-economic situations and cultural traditions, offering to each one the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers and your support.

Wm. Allen Bingham, Chairperson

Congregational Development Report to the 2003 NC Annual Conference

The commission supports our annual conference as we respond to Jesus’ challenge to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Our response reflects the diversity of the people called United Methodists and the geography we are called to serve. Many of our congregations are deployed to serve rural communities and small towns that are being transformed before our eyes into urban and suburban centers. This is why about half of the people called Methodist in our annual conference now worship in just 120 of our 800+ churches that typically average 175 or more in worship each weekend.

In the next year we will challenge our conference to substantially increase our membership in the “Ten Dollar Club.” This 50 year old venture in our conference provides grants to start new ministries across the state and launch missions in other nations as well. We hold before the annual conference an ongoing goal of starting 5 new churches annually utilizing the resources made available from Ten Dollar Club moneys and other investments held by the commission. In the coming years this will require a greater commitment from the commission as we move to start new churches in areas where start-up costs are pushing beyond the reach of our current funding processes. To this end we are supporting the emerging work of the Congregational
Development Foundation, Inc. as it engages in a capital campaign that we hope will provide a ten-fold increase in the support to new faith communities.

As we ponder the changes in North Carolina’s cultural climate we are reminded of the challenge to reach people for Jesus Christ. Jesus’ commission to be witnesses “to the ends of the earth” remains, even as persons from “the ends of the earth” have moved into our neighborhood. We celebrate the growth in membership, and worship and Sunday school attendance in many of our churches. The Office of Congregational Development continues to consult with nearly 100 churches each year. The assistance provided includes demographic research, local consultations, training and planning services for existing congregations. We are excited about the Hispanic Circles of Ministry in Wake County and the launching of community ministry centers in the Rocky Mount District. These initiatives are in response to our bishop’s challenge to open 20 new faith communities in places affected poverty by the year 2004.

Again, the work of the Office and Commission on Congregational Development is varied as we seek to serve rural, small town, suburban and urban churches in various socio-economic situations and cultural traditions, offering to each one the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers and your support.

Wm. Allen Bingham, Chairperson

Congregational Development Report to the 2002 NC Annual Conference

The Commission on Congregational Development seeks to support our annual conference in responding to Jesus’ challenge to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Our response necessarily reflects the diversity of our churches of the people called Methodists and the geographical area we are called to serve. Many of our congregations were founded to serve in ministry in a rural and small town state that is transforming into an urban and suburban centers. This results in half of our annual conference membership now worshiping in only 120 of our 840 churches. These 120 churches typically average 175 or more in worship on a typical weekend.

We continue to hold before the annual conference a goal of starting 5 new churches each year. Many of us now realize that this is a break-even proposition for the conference as a whole. Our worship attendance each week across the annual conference has grown from 72,794 in 1990 to 83,742 in 2000, a 15% increase, while North Carolina’s population has increased over 20% in the same time period. Further, the addition of 29 new churches over the past seven years has resulted in most of the growth in worship attendance experienced in the annual conference. We are also especially excited about the formation of the Wake Circles of Hispanic Ministry in Wake County and the launching of community ministry centers in the Rocky Mount District. This is in response to our bishop’s challenge to open 20 new faith communities in places affected by poverty by the year 2004. We encourage our annual conference to maintain these commitments to growth affirmed by the 2001 Annual Conference.

The Office of Congregational Development continues to consult with nearly 100 churches each year. The assistance provided includes demographic research, local consultations, training and planning services for already existing congregations. The office is now leading our conference in two important initiatives for the coming year. The first is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ten Dollar Club. This long-term commitment to new church development has contributed to the launching of 80 churches that currently constitute over 15% of our membership. We hope to substantially increase the numbers of people committed to making new church development a priority in their giving. The second is to undergird the emerging work of the Congregational Development Fund. We hope to realize a ten-fold increase in the investment funds available to support formation of new faith communities. This funding should support future growth among the people called Methodist in eastern North Carolina.

The work of the Office and Commission on Congregational Development is multifaceted as we seek to serve rural, small town, suburban and urban churches, in a variety of socio-economic situations, within varied cultural traditions, offering to each one the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers and your support.

Wm. Allen Bingham, Chairperson