Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference Update from the Guide Team


We set out on a journey in 2018 to create a new conference by uniting the Memphis & Tennessee Conferences. In 2019 we adopted our mission, vision, and values, in 2020 we approved a new structure and in 2021, we approved our Plan of Union which we now celebrate being approved by the Southeast Jurisdictional Conference. We will officially become the Tennessee-Western Kentucky (TWK) Conference on January 1, 2022. 

Leadership Formation
The new Connectional Table leadership team has begun to lay the foundation for the new conference, creating covenant, learning our new context, and discovering where God is leading us as we birth the new conference with a focus on the local church and its leaders. The Strategy teams are beginning to develop relationships and learn the context of their associated ministry teams. This has been done almost entirely by Zoom!

More about these strategic conversations will be shared by the Connectional Table at the TWK Organizational Meeting which will be live-streamed on December 4, 2021. The Transitional Nominating team is working through a new process for nominating to develop a robust pool of leaders that will be affirmed on December 4 and will begin in January. You can still participate in the process by nominating yourself or someone else using the nominations google form found on the nominations webpage.

Ministry Team Adaptations
The New Conference Guide team continues to shepherd the teams working on new ways of ministry across the area as the leadership baton is passed to the Connectional Table.  Many conference teams are finding ways to strengthen their area-wide relationships. 
  • The new Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries has created area-wide relationships and have enlisted the help of The Foundry Creative Group, a consulting arm of the UMCommission, the organizing body of campus ministries in the North and South Georgia conferences, to assist them in developing the needed area-wide vision and processes for campus ministry relationships.  
  • Youth leaders from the legacy conferences are working alongside Ministry Architects to develop a way forward to invest in young leaders to make disciples. Listening sessions in each district produced a report that the youth ministry transition team will use to take the next steps. 
  • Our Camp and Retreat Ministries have adapted throughout a trying year and half and are leaning into new ways of leading in the TWK conference: innovative and adaptive children and youth summer camp experiences during a pandemic, creation of creative space for spiritual direction, and providing leadership for conference youth ministry.
Human Resources and Staffing
The Human Resources Committee has also continued its work. The Plan of Union, adopted by the legacy annual conferences, tasks the Human Resources Committee (HR) of the TWK Guide Team with the task of continuing to align positions and responsibilities to the new TWK ministry structure.  

To assist them in this work, they engaged Mike Bonem, an outside consultant specializing in church and conference personnel structure, to review our current staffing levels and assist us in creating a staffing structure that aligns with our mission. 

As Bonem listened to leaders and led innovative discussions, he noted several ideas that surfaced to guide his recommendations: 
  1. A staff that supports rather than directs volunteer leaders and teams is essential to decentralize the ministry of the conference and keep funding in the local church. 
  2. A staff structure that promotes a culture of collaboration and works against siloed strategies is necessary to promote team ministry. 
The recommendations were reviewed by the Guide Team and the HR Committee and the next steps have been planned for a new staff structure. 

The HR Committee has approved the following staff positions for the TWK conference that will not require posting of the jobs because they are unchanged and have incumbents:

Connectional Ministry Officer (CMO): Melinda Young Britt
Executive Assistant to CMO: Izzie Zimmerman

The Office of Communications will be made up of the following personnel:
       Director of Communications: Amy Hurd
       Digital Media Specialist: Kylie Marino

The Office of Administrative Services will be made up of the following personnel:
       Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services: Larry Davis
       Assistant Treasurer/Controller: Clare Wilson
       Assistant Benefits Officer: Melinda Parker
       Assistant Administrative Officer/HR: Alice Grunau

The Episcopal and District Staffs will remain in place. The position of District Leadership Strategist is being reviewed by the Cabinet and the HR team for ways that it can continue to impact the ministry of the local churches within the nine districts. 

Staffing Changes
The following staffing changes from the legacy conference structure are being made: 
  • The Equip Strategy Team will be supported by two newly created positions, a full-time Ministry Associate, and a full-time Administrative Assistant. The Ministry Associate will report to the Connectional Ministry Officer while the Administrative Assistant will report to the Ministry Associate.
  • The Discover & Send Strategy Team and the Connect Strategy Team will be supported by two new positions, a full-time Ministry Associate and a full-time Administrative Assistant. The Ministry Associate will report to the Connectional Ministry Officer and the Administrative Assistant will report to the Ministry Associate.
  • The Office of Leadership Formation & Development (OLFD) will be absorbed into the Equip Team, thereby eliminating this distinct office. The work of the OLFD will be distributed among the Board of Ministry, the Board of Laity, and other Equip ministry teams and be supported by the newly created positions mentioned above. The current OLFD positions are being eliminated effective Sept 30, 2021.
  • The Office of Administrative Services has been realigned and reduced by one staff position effective Sept 1, 2021.
Persons in positions that are being eliminated have been informed by their current supervisor. The new positions were posted for applicants on August 1, 2021. It is anticipated that all ministry positions, new and continuing, will be on board by October 1, 2021, to continue the organizational work of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference.

Job descriptions and the process for application are posted at twkumc.org/position-openings

Questions about this Transition
As we move through these changes it will be important for us to navigate the transition together. Change also brings about questions. These questions can help us clarify and learn how to live into our new structure in an authentic way. It is the intention of the Guide team to share communication in an intentional and transparent way. As questions arise, please direct those to info@nashareaumc.org, and a member of the HR team or Guide team will answer. 

Please be in prayer as we transition through the next few months. As we read this, we are aware of the uncertainty that is present in every area of our lives. However, we can be certain of this: By faith, we can navigate challenging seasons because God’s love for us instills perseverance that is beyond our own capabilities. God is equipping us with what is needed to be the church as the TWK conference.