CLERGY GATHERING: All churches will submit weekly 'Vital Signs' info beginning Jan. 1

CLERGY GATHERING: All churches will submit weekly 'Vital Signs' info beginning Jan. 1

Also: New gratitude campaign kicks off



A total 347 pastors attended this year's Clergy Gathering, held Oct. 14-15 at churches in Lenoir City and Bluff City, Tenn.

Speakers informed pastors about a new plan to record statistics online each week beginning Jan. 1, as well as a 2014 campaign to express gratitude to local churches for their financial giving.

Bishop Dindy Taylor spoke to clergy at both Central United Methodist Church and Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church about a denominational effort to measure weekly "Vital Signs," with the goal of developing healthier congregations.

"I think we can learn something from it," Taylor said. "If there's a farmer in this room, it's my hunch that you would want to know how much of your seed is taking hold." 

"Whatever it takes, my friends, to build Vital Congregations, we have been called to do that," she said.

The Rev. Doug Hyndrich witnessed to his colleagues on how responding to Vital Congregations recommendations has motivated and changed his congregation, First United Methodist Church in Rich Creek, Va.  

Bishop Taylor encouraged clergy to watch related videos to learn more about the Vital Signs process. Clergy should sign up and begin recording information now for good practice, in preparation for Holston's official participation beginning Jan. 1, she said.

Video: Bishop Taylor explains more about Vital Congregations.   

ENCOURAGING WORDS

Speakers representing the Council on Finance and Administration also announced the launch of a gratitude campaign involving monthly bulletin inserts and videos.

Way to Go! Way to Give! is an opportunity to show church members how their financial gifts are used to change lives through ministry, according to the Rev. Jason Gattis, who spoke at the Lenoir City gathering.

The first video and bulletin insert are available now at WaytoGive.Holston.org to share during the Thanksgiving season. Beginning Jan. 1, church leaders are encouraged to share a video or bulletin insert with parishioners on the third Sunday of each month or on the most convenient Sunday. Each month has a designated focus (such as February: youth ministry and March: disaster relief), Gattis said.

Also during Clergy Gathering, participants joined in worship and received information from speakers on Cokesbury.com resources, the "Local Pastor Guidebook," pensions, tax preparation, and Lay Servant Ministries.

LeRae Collins announced that Holston giving to Imagine No Malaria has reached $1,215,800.

See Clergy Gathering photos on Facebook.