DS/DCM Orientation Cultivating Vital Ministries

DS/DCM Orientation Cultivating Vital Ministries


DS/DCM Orientation Cultivating Vital Ministries | GBHEM
Chris Holmes of Holmes Coaching Group, one of the five coaches who led sharing groups during this week of orientation. Photo by Michael Rich.


“This training is like receiving a large suit of clothes that I haven’t grown into yet,” that’s according to an insight that Myron Wingfield, coordinator of the event, discovered from a 2013 participant.

District Superintendents and Conference Directors of Connectional Ministries from across the connection gathered from August 24-28, 2014 at Lake Junaluska Retreat and Conference Center in North Carolina.

Attending this year were 75 new district superintendents, 8 new directors of connectional ministries, and over 30 spouses.  A total of 41 conferences/episcopal areas were represented between participants, faculty and staff.

The annual training is sponsored by the Council of Bishops, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the General Board of Discipleship. 

This year’s program brought together some of the top leaders in the denomination for four days of intensive training on the roles of the district superintendent and director of connectional ministries.

DS/DCM Orientation Cultivating Vital Ministries | GBHEM

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball of the West Virginia Conference. Photo by Michael Rich.

The event included daily worship and centering time,  three plenary sessions, three sessions focused on technical leadership best practices, and four small group sharing sessions led by a coach who will continue coaching via conference calls through the end of the year.

The first two plenaries focused on the general theme of the event as outlined by Myron Wingfield: "We focus on the DS as the 'chief missional strategist of the district' and the DCM as the 'steward of the vision' for the conference, shifting the emphasis from institutional management to strategic, innovative, missional leadership.  Working together, these roles can be leading change agents for the missional renewal of the denomination."

Bishop Grant Hagiya led part one, entitled “Chief Missional Strategist & Steward of the Vision: Your Unique Role in Cultivating Vital Ministries.” Joe Daniels and Tom Hazelwood led part two.  The final plenary was led by Myron Wingfield and Ken Sloane, with closing worship and communion led by Bishops Eduard Khegay, Sandra Steiner-Ball and Jonathan Keaton.

The best practices sessions were designed so that the superintendents would receive training in supervision, legal issues, conflict resolution and cultural competence.

DS/DCM Orientation Cultivating Vital Ministries | GBHEM

The Rev. Myron Wingfield, interim associate general secretary, Division of Ordained Ministry, GBHEM. Photo by Michael Rich.

Myron Wingfield and Bishop Steiner-Ball led the Supervision section.  They focused their teaching on the concept that leadership in a district requires intense self-awareness, belief and value awareness and time awareness.  “You can effectively lead only when you are leading from your authentic self,” according to Steiner-Ball, who served six years as a district superintendent before being elected to the episcopacy.

Dr. Jeff Patterson, superintendent of the Yadkin Valley District in the Western North Carolina Conference, shared the importance of this training.  “In the Personnel session, I discovered that even after ten years working with the Board of Ordained Ministry, that there is terminology and specifics in the 2012 Discipline that I needed to learn.”  Reflecting on his new role as a superintendent, “This training will help me prioritize my ministry after going from one church in one community to serving the diverse needs of 166 churches in numerous communities.”

Chris Moore, a clergy from the Baltimore-Washington Conference, is heading up the coaching experience for participants. “We believe that this experience will not end on Thursday,” he said. There are 8-9 DS/DCM’s in each of the 10 groups, and beyond the four meetings of the week, they will meet by conference calls four more times until December. Moore described the coaching component as “integration and processing of the huge volume of information shared in the orientation.” According to previous evaluations, it is always one of the most helpful components of the training.

Dr. Chris Eckert, the new superintendent of the Demopolis District in the Alabama-West Florida Conference reflected on his experience of the orientation: “I have realized that that I am not in this boat by myself.  In just the first couple of days, I have met folks from across the connection and learned that we are all learning how to do this together. This has broadened my horizons of what it means to be a part of our rich Wesleyan heritage.”

Rich is web and communications manager, Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.