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Annual Conference Shepherding Team Refines Role Statement

Posted: March 19 2024 at 03:43 PM
Author: Victoria Rebeck

The Northern Illinois Annual Conference Shepherding Team—comprising leaders from various ministry areas and locations around the conference—has developed a new role statement.

Meeting March 7, the team completed a draft it has been working on for several months. It found that the description of the team passed at the 2017 annual conference session, while wide-ranging, did not specify the team’s responsibilities and relationship to the conference as a whole.


Changes in the world and in The United Methodist Church over the past several years accentuated the need for a clearer role statement for the ACST. The COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted business as usual around the world and the new episcopal area that will comprise the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois Annual Conferences are perhaps the most consequential of those circumstances.

“We in the church can be tempted to jump into action with a solution which we don’t have. What would be our next thing to do?” said Rev. Anna Shinn, co-chair of the ACST. “But we are encouraged to slow down and check the surroundings, be sensitive who we are with now. And make sure we know that we are not alone, we are in fact, connected with others.

“I’ve learned over nine months of work with the ACST that the skill what we need is to manage the heat of disturbance; to sustain ‘the productive zone of disequilibrium,’ as Ronald Heifetz says.”

The ACST has in recent months focused most on the implications of the new episcopal arrangement.

“The role of the ACST will become even more vital,” said Mark Manzi, co-chair of the ACST. “Therefore, we want all people of the NIC to know who we are and what we do. We ask NIC lay and clergy to examine this statement and let us know what they think about it—and more importantly, how we can help in your district and in your local church.”

ACST's new role statement

"The Annual Conference Shepherding Team was created to advance the overall mission of the Northern Illinois Conference by ensuring the proper use and alignment of resources to achieve it. The ACST serves as a place for consultation, advice, and decision-making, and provides connections between conference administrative and ministry areas, the cabinet, District Shepherding Teams, and local churches. It serves to build trust, collaboration, and accountability in the conference’s responsibility to live out its mission.

"Specifically, the ACST is:

  • A council of advisers to the bishop and conference leadership.
  • A decision-making body between annual conference sessions and for those items not requiring conference action.
  • A contributor to the overall budgeting process with final review prior to annual conference.
  • The oversight body for the District Shepherding Teams in collaboration with the district superintendents.
  • An adaptive learning organization that provides insights and teaching about effective leadership in the 21st century church."

Trust-building is high on the ACST’s priority list.

“Everyone needs to be on board with trust-building—the cabinet, the clergy, and other groups that are part of the conference,” one ACST member said. “We need to be listening to everyone’s concerns.”

The team considered the possibility of holding listening sessions; times when people can bring to the team an area of concern and the team will listen. When appropriate, the team would help the person find the person or group who can address their concern.

Further, the ACST is developing plans to report and clarify to various conference constituent groups about the ACST’s role and relationship to these groups.

Responding to conversations between the annual conference and the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple regarding conference office’s lease, the ACST also approved a statement of gratitude that the situation has been resolved in an honest and mutually respectful way. Read the statement

The ACST will next meet on April 13.

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