October 12, 2022 Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church

Church Governance Consultation by Pastor David

Church Governance Consultation by Pastor David

Rev. Jenny Smith

This coming Friday (October 14, 7:00 pm) is our annual church meeting, which we call the “All Church Conference.” This is where we account and answer questions regarding our relationship with the United Methodist church and our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. We also elect officers for the coming year and conduct any other necessary all-church business.

During this year’s gathering, we will view a greeting from our Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who is retiring this December after 14 years of episcopal service. The Greater Northwest Area cabinet has announced that a special offering will be taken at all church conferences this fall for the Circle of Indigenous Ministries (greaternw.org/circle) at the end of our gathering on Friday.

The past number of years, it has been increasingly difficult to secure people willing to serve as elected officers for our church’s governance system. In a previous newsletter, I highlighted that all UMC congregations have historically served in a top-heavy, ecclesial body governance structure, that has a redundant and layered decision-making system. Historic/traditional polity requires five committees of up to nine people (Church Council, Trustees, SPPR, Finance, and Lay Leadership) plus three additional officer roles (Council Chair, Lay Leader, Annual Conference Representative). That’s 45 people to fill those team rosters. Newer allowances within our church polity make way for a single church governance structure to cover all required outcomes (9-12 lay officers).

As we prepare to move into 2023, our Church Council has approved the consultation work of United Methodist Pastor, Rev. Jenny Smith, now serving as coach, consultant, author, and speaker. She will be with us on Sunday, November 13th as our guest preacher, as well as Church Governance Workshop leader immediately following a post-worship luncheon. I hope the whole church will stay for this special time of learning about a new way of doing church governance.

It is my hope and prayer that the OHFUMC family can become more nimble and strategic in our governance and decision-making process. I hope we will discover some momentum-building focus points for engaged ministry as a congregation. This will be key to our future vitality and external community engagement.

       Jenny will be helping us to reconsider how we might simplify our structure and processes for the good of the whole church family and how we might prepare our whole church for adopting a new, simplified governance structure six months later in June. We still need to act upon the structure we currently have this coming Friday, but we will also note to ourselves this may be a temporary six-month bridge into a new future. I hope you will be present Friday night for the continuation of our church’s story and ministry in our community!


- David