Getting a Jump on Conference


When the Missouri Conference Sessions team decided to slim annual conference down to the three-day schedule, they knew it would be challenging to hold onto that schedule in an election year. To address that, they got an early start on the Annual Conference session even though technically we weren’t in session on May 21 by having a pre-conference briefing at Community in Columbia that was livestreamed around the state. 

Missouri Bishop Bob Farr opened the briefing by welcoming people to the “experiment” and reminding both those gathered and those online that Annual Conference was not in session. The pre-conference briefing was only to receive reports with no voting requirements. 

“If anyone brings up business I’ll have to rule it out of order because we’re not in order,” Bishop Farr said. His opening was followed by reports from various groups that are usually given at Annual Conference Session. 

The Missouri United Methodist Foundation

Missouri United Methodist Foundation Director David Atkins reported that the foundation has entered its 52nd year of ministry, opening the same year as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. 

“The Arch remains powerful symbol of achievement and possibilities. We’re in a season of change, but God’s love abides,” Atkins said. “Your United Methodist Foundation is a gateway to giving, generous living and a means to share in unknown abundant possibilities of God’s future.”

Atkins described the Foundation’s board as a gathering of committed disciples who embody the Wesleyan ideal of “Do all the good you can.” 

Atkins introduced Chris Bouchard as the director of the C2FM. This ministry directly serves pastors and their churches in four areas of service:
  • Financial Education
  • Personal Financial Coaching
  • Financial Ministry Support
  • Direct Aid
Funded by the Lily Foundation, the ministry has $700,000 available to pastors to help them reach their financial goals. 

Next Generation Ministries

Next Generation Ministries Director Jeff Baker reported that last year there were 277 camp crew and volunteers involved in camps that resulted in a new generation of leaders rising up. The NextGen Academy last fall had 98 youth in attendance. 

Right now there are about 3,700 children and youth registered for summer camps. The camp goal is 8,188. 

“We are excited about where we are and where we are going,” Baker said. 

NextGen Ministries in Missouri recognizes the important work of connecting with young adults to continue the relational work of the church. A few years ago, members of the NextGen Team identified Springfield as one of the areas with a growing number of students but no formal campus ministry. With Missouri State University being the second largest campus in Missouri, Baker was excited to share the appointment of Rev. Tracey Wolff as the college-age ministry pastor in Springfield. Wolff has a passion for working with college-age students. Also this year, five of

Missouri’s college-age ministries sent 60 students to support the repair efforts in Puerto Rico as part of an alternative spring break mission experience.

“Our commitment to helping those around the country and around the world is stronger than ever,” Baker said. 

NextGen has recruited 24 interns serving as counselors and leadership staff with mobile camps this summer. This year the plan is to bring a weeklong camp experience to 900 campers all across Missouri. The curriculum is founded in Methodist theology and ideals and honoring the uniqueness of every camper in attendance. This work directly correlates with The Conference priority of developing missional leaders. 

Central Methodist University

Rev. Kayla Kelly introduced herself as the campus chaplain and director of the Center of Faith and Service at Central Methodist University in Fayette. She has two responsibilities: campus ministries and service opportunities. There are 60 students in community engagement, providing service hours in the local community. There is a chapel service at 10 a.m. every Tuesday at CMU with an average attendance of 150. Four chapel praise bands lead worship on rotating basis and also play at local places like nursing homes. About 50 students are engaged in campus ministry leadership on Tuesday mornings alone. This past spring 22 people from CMU went to Puerto Rico.

A renovation project has begun in the basement of CMU chapel. 

“We’re really excited about using it as a new place for small groups and a place to have a smaller, more intimate worship setting,” Kelly said. She noted she has visited dozens of United Methodist Churches in Missouri. Churches who would like to have her visit can email their request to her at  

Leadership Excellence

Director of Leadership Excellence Karen Hayden reported that her team surpassed the goal to introduce 400 missional leaders to the Conference this year. The next goal is to identify 600 more leaders by the end of 2020. There are now multiple learning and growth opportunities available for people in ministry and for people considering ministry as a vocation. 

“Might we all be more mindful in noticing and nurturing those who are thinking about thinking about a call to ministry in any form,” Hayden said. 

Mission, Service and Justice

Mission, Service and Justice Director Tina Harris said at the foundation of their center is the question: “What breaks God’s heart?” followed by getting to work to do something about it. Missouri has 267,867 children living in poverty. This past year the number of Missouri Conference churches that are partnered with a school has quadrupled. Now churches are being challenged to put 100,000 books into the hands of 100,000 students, with the intent being to build on relationships already established in the local schools. This book ministry will be explained in more detail in a webinar this fall. This past year 53 churches reported having school partnerships, 19 churches expanded their partnerships and 34 churches reported new school partnerships. 

“If you’re praying if your congregation should do this, you have all of the resources available on the Missouri Conference website to get started,” Harris said.  

Episcopal Committee

Chair of the Episcopacy Committee Brian Hammons reported that the committee has found that Bishop Farr has done an outstanding job of providing leadership in challenging time. Bishop Farr spoke at 21 pre-general conference briefings and nine post-general conference briefings. 
“We saw his heart, his struggle and heard his passion for church,” Hammons said.
“He has led our conference to focus on three Wildly important goals, and led our cabinet in important and often difficult task of appointing minsters to their charges in the coming year.
He’s Known as a thoughtful, considerate, honest straightforward leader.”
Hammons urged everyone to continue praying for Bishop Farr, for wisdom and a steady hand as he continues to lead the movement called the United Methodist Church.