As of July 1, 2016, the Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) and the Assistant to the Bishop (A2B) positions will be combined into one. This is because we’re in the midst of determining just what kind of staffing (programming, structure and budgeting) we need as an annual conference.
But since this is a change, I want to begin to give some clarity as to what the combined position of DCM/A2B will do. First it requires understanding of the role of the Director of Connectional Ministries. A DCM is not a mandated position within the Book of Discipline that the annual conference must have but most annual conferences have someone who does these general, disciplinary functions:
- The DCM serves as an officer of the annual conference and sits with the cabinet for matters related to coordination, implementation, or administration of the conference programs as well as other matters that the cabinet and director may determine.
- The DCM has the following responsibilities (and they are in the Book of Discipline) in partnership with other leadership:
–To serve as steward of the vision of the annual conference, including the development, clarification, interpretation, and embodiment of the vision;
–To serve as leader of the continuous process of transformation and renewal necessary for the annual conference to be faithful to our Christian identity in a changing world;
–To ensure alignment of the total resources of the conference to its vision; and
– To ensure the connections among the local, district, annual conference, and general church ministries for the purpose of networking, resourcing and communicating their shared ministry.
Usually the DCM has oversight and supervision for program ministries, and in our conference that is the Program Council. Historically, the DCM in the NIC has had some social justice responsibilities but for now that will be filled in other ways or by those in the conference who have a passion to address them. But there are many other work areas that need staffing and that’s where we will need to begin to figure out both systems and new ways to fill the gaps.
What does the Assistant to the Bishop (A2B) do? While this is a relatively new position to the NIC since 2007, it exists in the majority of annual conferences. The A2B has been essential to me so that I can be out in local churches and with groups and people as much as possible. For instance, last year I preached 75 different times; I couldn’t do that if I didn’t have an A2B to provide the backup administrative work.
The A2B provides:
• administrative support for changes in clergy status,
• assist in preparing for meetings, events and other activities as needed (such as most recently, putting into place the details around the Purpose Summit and Listening Sessions),
• provides support for the cabinet members (and others, including administrative staff) in handling information and changes to someone’s health and pension benefits, appointment change forms, answering some Disciplinary and NIC policy questions, etc.,
• research on legal matters and interfacing with the conference chancellor as well as researching Judicial Council decisions as needed,
• support for the bishop in adjudicating complaints,
• developing and implementing new systems of operation (for instance, helping to design a new process for event registration),
• doing what I often call “project or program management” (for instance, as I designed an evaluation for district superintendents, the A2B figured out the timing of when letters need to go out, deadlines, etc. in order to get the work done in a timely and efficient way),
• extensive immigration work (so that we remain in the good graces of Homeland Security which makes surprise visits on occasion and acquires visas for our clergy),
• on occasion stands in for the bishop at ecumenical and interfaith gatherings that I am unable to attend so that we have a United Methodist presence,
• compiles and posts the clergy prayer post and the appointment announcement each week,
• does boundary training annually and arranges for the quadrennial out-sourced training, and
• other projects and functions as needed so that the bishop can provide strategic, relational, and oversight responsibilities as given to the role.
This kind of administrative work is detailed, technical as well as immense, extensive and incredibly important to get right. As I have announced, I am appointing the Rev. Arlene Christopherson to the position of DCM/A2B as of July 1, 2016. I have found her depth of knowledge, willingness to read all the fine print and hard work to be a great help and in fact, I believe we have complementary gifts and skills.
We will be talking to staff, Program Council, and other work areas to make sure that we cover the bases. We seek to serve the annual conference’s needs as best we can. We expect that we will all learn together—the bishop, DCM/A2B, elected leadership, clergy and local churches—what we really value.
Sometimes the clarity in that is revealed best when we no longer have something and we discover what is truly essential. So please work with us as we all figure out what those things are and how best we can meet them immediately or in the long run.
It does not yet appear what our staffing configuration will be, even now with this change; this gets us from here to wherever we end up. The Landscape Team will make a report and recommend staffing configuration at annual conference.
In fact, let me say that we are in a marathon of change, not a sprint! It reminds me of a charge given by the apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus and I take it as a charge to you and me in this time of change:
In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do…I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. (Ephesians 4:1-6, The Message)
~Bishop Sally Dyck