July 22, 2019

With the hope of ensuring that Belmont UMC was doing all it could to live into its welcome statement and to be proactive with regard to continuing developments, the Administrative Board commissioned an Engagement Team at its April Meeting. The Engagement Team has three groups that are working separately on different aspects of our engagement and also working together to make sure BUMC is unified in our actions.

In an attempt to keep the congregation informed and involved, this is the first in a series of periodic updates we will make regarding the progress of these teams. Feel free to contact any of the team shepherds with questions or to volunteer with the work that they are identifying that BUMC needs to complete.

Team One – Engagement with the Congregation and Community – Shepherd Jennifer Bagwell

Team One is working to make sure that we continue to engage our BUMC community and, at the same time, spread our ministries into the community (both our neighborhood and the larger city-wide community) as our welcoming expression of Christian love.  Team One started their work identifying areas that BUMC is already doing well and ideas where we can improve.  Some of the ideas generated and that may potentially be implement included:

  • Coffees and conversations with church members to keep information available and as transparent as possible
  • Use our outreach opportunities to connect people in and out of the church looking for ways to serve and help others in Nashville
  • Offer discussions, forums, and studies
  • Shepherds for our young adults for programming
  • Shepherds for our parents of post-high school kids
  • Follow up with members/regular attendees who miss several weeks
  • Book study on Holy Love
  • Fall carnival kick-off (something twice a year for all)
  • Pride Festival – extending event before and after for more connection
  • All-Church Retreat – reaching as many as possible
  • Focus on reaching out to colleges in our area, making sure they know we are here
  • One-day in-town retreat at Belmont – updates on GC 2019, opportunities for service, learning, spiritual growth, etc. can all be shared

Team Two – Engagement with Like Minded Churches – Shepherd John Pearce

Team Two is working to create a network of other churches that share our vision of a fully welcoming and inclusive church. John Pearce and Paul Purdue represented Belmont at the UMC Next gathering in Kansas City recently where they participated in important discussions about various options for connectionalism with like-minded churches within the denomination. Paul and John shared their experience with an overflow crowd in the Community Center on Sunday, June 16. The group has also discussed ways to engage with local Nashville churches and have had conversations with leaders at several churches about ways to live into inclusion and equity. The group has had preliminary discussions about hosting a conference in the fall for churches the Southeast Jurisdiction.

Team Three – Engagement with the Denomination – Shepherd Rick Keuler

The work of Team Three is focused on keeping abreast of developments denomination wide and thinking about how Belmont UMC reacts to events and how we can position ourselves to best live fully into the message of our welcoming statement. Our work to date has taken two tracks. The first is to be thoughtful on how Belmont UMC can be proactive in the lead up to annual conference and then with an eye towards General Conference in 2020. For instance, we tried to help connect our delegates to others in the conference that were aiming to elect a progressive slate of candidates to GC2020. The second track is thinking through how Belmont UMC can best position itself if we ultimately decide as a congregation that disaffiliation from the current UMC is the best way to follow our goal of being a fully welcoming church. These discussions are ongoing.