The newly formed Annual Conference Shepherding Team
(ACST) spent a day together on Nov. 11, 2017 at First UMC in
Oak Park, Ill., getting acquainted, looking at their purpose and
The 23-member team with two co-chairs and a diverse
representation of clergy and laity from across the conference is
the central group of the restructuring plan approved at the 2017
Annual Conference. The ACST’s purpose is to be “an adaptive
learning organization to coordinate and communicate the ministry
of the NIC for the sake of making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
ACST Lay Co-Chair Liz Gracie told the group that considering
the scope of the work outlined for the team that the goal was
not to leave the first meeting with a plan, but with next steps.
“I was very impressed by and grateful for the spirit of openness,
commitment, engagement, and collegiality that all members
brought to our first meeting,” said Gracie. “Everyone expressed
hope for our Annual Conference and eagerness for the work
Bishop Sally Dyck shared devotions based on Philippians 3:
12-16 framing the work of the Shepherding team as one body
focusing on a shared mission and goal.
“We need to keep our eye on the mission of the Annual Conference,”
said Bishop Dyck. “When we serve the mission, it gives
us greater clarity to what we need to do and what decisions need
to be made. It’s important we stay on the road together.”
Bishop Dyck pointed to some of the challenges facing the
denomination and the annual conference and said she hopes the
reorganizational plan will reenergize the Annual Conference’s
connections that are built into being United Methodists. She said
it’s important during these times to work toward making the
Northern Illinois Conference strong, stable, and sustainable.
“The restructure is a big technical change that’s not adaptive
in itself,” said Bishop Dyck. “But when you make a big technical
change, it can provide opportunities to do some new things so
all the entities within the annual conference are healthier and
The ACST worked on a covenant statement and discussed
the 12 priorities outlined in the legislation. The group discerned
which top two responsibilities of the ACST to focus on first.
After small group discussions, the team decided its top priority
is to discern a 5-year vision plan. The second responsibility the
group chose as of higher importance is for the ACST to "lead as
a learning organization in addressing the technical and adaptive,
challenges and opportunities presented to the NIC."
“We probably all came with our eyes glazed wondering what
we had gotten ourselves into,” said ACST Clergy Co-Chair Rev.
Myron McCoy. “However, by the time we left we had focused
our attention to some key leveraging responsibilities and we
could clearly see we had some committed colleagues who were
with us on this journey.”
The District Shepherding Teams (DST) are still being formed
and are being encouraged to hold similar orientation meetings.
Chairs from each DST have a seat at the ACST table.
The ACST will meet again on March 10, 2018, along with the
DSTs for an adaptive leadership training with Consultant Susan
If you have questions or comments you can reach out to the
ACST by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit the Shepherding Team page.