Merger Update: Nov17

Merger Update: Nov17

This is an updated memo regarding the merger of the Northeast District of The Wesleyan Church and the Penn-Jersey District of The Wesleyan Church.  At one time, there was consideration given to including the Chesapeake District in the merger process.  But upon reflection, it was concluded that the merger should continue to be between the Northeast District of the Wesleyan Church and the Penn-Jersey District of the Wesleyan Church.

During the past month, District Superintendents Paul James and Karl Eastlack met with interested parties in a Listening/Vision Tour.  They met with Success University pastors in the Northeast District and with three different groups in the Penn-Jersey District.  Morale was high and expectations strong in all meetings as the potential merger was discussed.  The major reason for the merger (the ‘why’) is that together these districts will be able to make more disciples for Christ.  That was, and continues to be, the bottom line for this merger.  If this is ever lost, we will consider the merger a failure. Emphasis continues to be placed on New England, the most unchurched region of North America.  The Northeast District, after 175 years of existence, has been unable to put together resources and strategies to adequately reach this needy mission field.  It is believed that by joining forces with the Penn-Jersey District, personnel and resources can be marshaled to reach, not only New England, but many other needy cities and towns in this eight-state region.

The three-pronged approach to doing so includes…

• Attention to leadership development

• Attention to church health and revitalization

• Attention to church multiplication and networks

Often, leaders are asked, “How will all of this take place?” The answer is usually given, “The ‘how’ is a work in progress and will continue to evolve.  The ‘why’ is what is important at this stage.”

The Northeast District will meet for a re-convened Conference to deal with the merger issue on February 10, 2018 at 10:30a at the Waterford Wesleyan Church, 75 Grace St., Waterford, NY.  In case of bad weather on February 10, a backup date has been set for February 24.  We will begin with a short time of praise & worship through song.  Then we will look at the resolution (below), discuss it, and then vote on it.  We will finish at lunchtime.  The district will provide a boxed lunch and you will be invited to stick around and fellowship for as long as you want.

The Penn-Jersey District re-convened Conference will be February 17, 2018 and will meet for the same reason.  Their snow date is February 24 as well.  The resolution that the delegates will be addressing is…

WHEREAS, the Gospel gap is growing greater and greater (the gap between the total population and those who are disciples of Christ), and WHEREAS, the northeast part of the United States consistently ranks as the most post-Christian, and

WHEREAS, the Northeast District has recognized its limitation in resources and personnel to reach this expanding mission field, and

WHEREAS, the Northeast District has experienced a significant renewal of mission and effectiveness in the local churches which is allowing for a willingness to sacrifice its comfort for the sake of lost souls, and

WHEREAS, the Northeast District and Penn-Jersey District of The Wesleyan Church are serious about the Great Commission, and WHEREAS, New England has become one of the largest mission fields in the world, and

WHEREAS, after prayer and deliberation the teams of the Districts believe that combining resources would accelerate the tasks of reaching the great Northeast,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Northeast District of The Wesleyan Church shall merge with the Penn-Jersey District with the intent of leveraging all resources and personnel to make more and better disciple for Jesus Christ.

Each district must pass this resolution, or one similar to it, with a simple majority.  If this happens, the General Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Schmidt, will come alongside the merger transition teams in order to expedite organizational unification.  Some of the items that these teams will deal with are…

• Nominations/interviews for the new district/regional leader. It is expected that one name will be brought to the merging conference for a vote.

• The number and makeup of the District Board of Administration. Current thought indicates that there will be a pro-rata number set based on the size of the current districts.

• Some team members will be dealing with the Standing Rules to guide the policies and procedures of the new district/region. • A new name of the merged district will be selected.

• The District Boards of Ministerial Development will present recommendations for policies and procedures to guide the hundred-plus ministerial students already in the credentialing process.

• A budget proposal for the new district will also be presented.

There may be other items that surface that the transition teams will work through to bring unity and clarity to the new district.  An interesting note is that this new district will have over 105 churches, approximately 13,000 worshippers on Sunday morning and an annual income in tithes and offerings of $16M.  Last year, combined, the districts led 2,309 people to the Lord and baptized 579.

The new district boundaries will include the eastern part of New York State, the eastern part of Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. It is interesting that three world-class cities are included, namely Philadelphia, New York and Boston (these are the cities that were at the center of the founding of the United States of America, the Revolutionary War, and also the mighty spiritual awakenings over the past couple of centuries).

If each district votes to merge, in early June a merging conference will take place.  Delegates from both districts will be elected as usual.  Each district will meet in a central location but in separate rooms on a Friday evening.  The place of this meeting has not yet been decided but the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh, NY area is being discussed.  The Friday evening session will bring to a conclusion each district as it now exists.  On Saturday morning, the delegates will come together in one location in a merged conference to do business.  When that conference is completed and the delegates have packed up and left, there will be one name, one leader, one mission, one passion, and one heart that beats to reach the Northeast.

We’re often asked where the new headquarters will be located and how the district will administrate this much larger territory.  While those answers are not yet clear, what is clear is that just as change takes place when a church grows larger and has to be administrated differently, so too the district will take on a different shape.  It is anticipated that the new District Board of Administration and district leader will flesh out these details. Meanwhile, each church and pastor is asked to think strategically about reaching their community and neighboring communities with the Gospel of Christ.  Prayers should be prayed that this renewed attention to the great northeast will resonate in the hearts of the men and women who hear our story and join our ranks in planting churches and making disciples.  We believe an army of dedicated, all-in soldiers will arrive in the Northeast to assault the gates of Hell and depopulate Satan’s zip code.  As this document is circulated, it is possible that there will be other questions that come to mind.  If so, we plan to continue to expand it in order for it to be as clear and forthright as possible.

Sincerely, Paul James, DS and

District Board of Administration, Northeast District of The Wesleyan Church

Dates to Remember…

• February 10, 2018 – NE District Reconvening Conference meets

• February 24, 2918 – Inclement weather date for NE District

• February 17, 2018 – Reconvening Conference for Penn-Jersey District

• February 24, 2018 – Inclement weather date for Penn-Jersey District

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