Madison Denton

Church Name: Missouri

Share any relevant background information including leadership experience both within the church and in other areas of your life.

Throughout my public education, I was actively serving and leading within my youth and young adult home ministries. In college, I served twice in the Missouri Conference internship program, Crossroads. My first year I served with C2, LUMC’s young adult ministry. I was the college ministry intern at Missouri United Methodist Church my second year. I served as the Mozambique Initiative intern under then-director Craig Stevenson and MSJ Director Tina Harris for a year-and-a-half. In that time, I was able to travel to Mozambique to represent our conference and visit our partner churches. 

Currently, I am an active member of the NextGeneration Ministries team. I am also participating in this year’s Planting Academy.

I am also the Director of College Ministry at Missouri United Methodist Church. We launched The Neighborhood College Ministry in August of 2018 and have since partnered with Pastor Charity Goodwin to launch The City Worship Movement in December 2018.

Describe your personal practices of intentional faith development that strengthen your spiritual engagement with God and your capacity for fruitful leadership in the church.

I’ve been heavily focused lately on the integration of spiritual engagement throughout my day, rather than in a specific window of time. At any given moment, you can find me connecting with the Holy Spirit through song, listening to past sermons, or reading a book by one of my favorite pastors and theologians. I try to be intentional about not restricting my time with God to just one small portion of my day. I believe that everything I do can be an opportunity for development and engagement. 

I am also very focused on building myself as a leader within the Church. One of my favorite podcasts at the moment is Leadership Lean-in with Pastor Chad Veach of Zoe Church in Los Angeles. They talk a lot about what it looks like to sharpen your leadership skills to further create Heaven all around you. I highly recommend it (episode two is my favorite)! I also find a lot of value in mentorship. There’s a lot that I do not yet know, and I’m blessed to have mentors that invest in me.

Why do you seek election as a lay delegate representing the Missouri Conference?

While it’s often believed that all young adults hold similar stances on major issues, I’ve found that there is a wide spectrum of beliefs that young people fall on. What is often common though, is the belief that the Church is large enough for all of us. I recognize the intersectionality within all of us. As a conference, we are composed of various races, classes, genders, sexualities, and locations. The grace-filled church that I feel called to is much more representative than all of those areas. It’s because of that grace and the open table we’re all invited to that I am for the full inclusion of all people. 

As a sub-thirty young adult in the UMC, I feel a pull towards representing the young people that are currently rising up to lead our church. As a ministry leader, I believe that I have the ability to stand as a voice for many of my students who otherwise might not be heard, and that’s what I feel it means to be a lay delegate.

How will your involvement in General Conference 2020 support the church to fulfill the mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?

I am just beginning my ministry journey. I have, prayerfully, many years of Kingdom work ahead of me, and it’s my hope that those years reflect our mission. Right now, the bulk of my ministry revolves around intentional discipleship. I am heavily invested in the spiritual development of young adults, ages 18-22. Their life experience doesn’t look the same as it did a generation ago, and it’s important that their perspective is reflected as we work to create space to disciple them over the next few decades. I am in-tune with the wants and needs of the younger generation as it relates to their church experience. I can bring their voice to the table at General Conference.

Since the primary focus for Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops, what qualifications do you think the church needs in its future episcopal leaders?

Episcopal leaders should be emotionally healthy, courageous leaders who are in-tune with the Holy Spirit. We’re in a space with a lot of uncertainty. It’s important that episcopal leadership is emotionally healthy and stable because that will trickle down into other forms of leadership. I also believe that our leaders must be willing to step out boldly and courageously for the gospel. The next generation of Jesus followers are paying attention, and they’re looking for someone to step out for them as Christ would. I’m looking for a leader who is familiar with the Missouri conference and wants to continue us on our cutting-edge path. They should be willing to push and challenge us to continue being pioneers, leading us to places we’ve never been before. It’s also important that our leadership be connected to the Holy Spirit. It can be easy for decisions to become very logistical. I’m looking for a leader that is also a follower, someone who is actively in pursuit of the heart of God.