The new Ohio Conference Leadership Council met  April 24-25 at Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center in Tiffin, OH. The purpose of our retreat was to get to know one another better and to intentionally set time aside to review the 2024-26 Strategic Plan that was approved at our recent Annual Conference Assembly.

As the Leadership Council gathered it was with a deep sense of gratitude for everyone who participated in and contributed to the work of discernment that contributed to creating our 2024-2026 Strategic Plan.    We trust that the God who has been faithful in leading us in the work of discernment will provide what we need for our life together in the months and years to come.

We spent considerable time with the Strategic Plan, particularly reviewing the goals for 2024 and 2025 to begin the work of implementation.

A plan is only as good as our ability to live into the goals we’ve developed. We spent time in the awareness that while we are responsible for overseeing the work, we cannot and must not be the ones doing all the implementation of the goals on behalf of the conference. Just as the Strategic Plan was developed by all our Conference stakeholders, it is essential for the whole conference to stay engaged. It is congregations, Conference committees, and individual volunteers with the assistance of Conference staff that will ultimately breathe life into this plan.

The Holy Spirit has been faithful in guiding us through this process and now is the time to partner with the Spirit of Jesus to make these ideas, hopes, and dreams a reality.

To assist with this process, the Leadership Council spent time determining who will be responsible for facilitating each goal as well as generating suggestions for how the work could be realized, while leaving ample space for guidance by the Holy Spirit and for those who will take up the work to take it in new or deeper directions.

Over the past two years our consultant, Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi, modeled and taught us the importance of discernment. As the Leadership Council we do not want to leave this essential spiritual discipline behind.

We spent time individually as well as in smaller groups meditating on Psalm 23 and Philippians 2:1-11, to hear what God might be saying to us and the wider Conference as we implement the Strategic Plan.  As we listened, we sensed the deep assurance of God in Jesus’  presence with us and that whatever fears, anxieties, or uncertainties we might individually or corporately be carrying about the future of the conference or the Strategic Plan, that our faithful God will stay close and guide us.

We were also reminded that sometimes the path to new life is through death. We do not need to be fearful or resist what might need to die for the sake of new life for our conference. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead also has the power to bring life to our conference and congregations.

We are grateful for the time we were able to spend together and trust that it will assist us in our work together. We continue to covet your prayers for the Leadership Council and our shared conference life as we walk this path together.