In honor of the connectionalism of the United Methodist Church, Dover District has formed nine Mission Connector Groups according to geographical proximity to build collegiality in ministry and engage with deep conversation for the best practices of Jesus’ ministries together. Pastors in nine Mission Connector Groups have been reading the book Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger to learn, reflect, and relate to each other with the question, “What does it mean to be an adaptive leader who can go off the map and into uncharted territory?” The expedition story of Lewis and Clark in the book has inspired the Mission Connectors. Lewis and Clark climbed the Lemhi Pass, having canoed up the Missouri River with the expectation to reach to the Pacific, and instead of finding a river, they ended up facing mountains. They needed to exchange canoes for horses and adapt to an “off the map” situation.
Dover District Superintendent Dr. Kyung Hee Sa has been leading cluster charge conferences which are named “Mission Connector Charge Conference” based on the reflections and learnings that these mission connector groups of pastors and churches presented. Some Mission Connector Charge Conferences presented their own missional and connectional goals or projects. Sussex Mid Area Mission Connector Group’s pastors presented a skit in a big canoe (see picture) to feature the theme “Let the Adventure Begin.” They actually carried the canoe and distributed a bag to all the lay participants that included binoculars to see the new opportunities among the 12 churches, a bookmark with church names to pray for one another, and etc.
Sussex-SouthEast Area Mission Connector Charge Conference put out a big canoe at the sanctuary of St. George’s Clarksville. Participating lay people came forward to fill the canoe with food (see the picture) to help those in need in their communities and they blessed it. Sussex-NorthEast Area Mission Connector celebrated the theme of “How to prepare for the soil to branch out to communities” and worshipped together with white, Hispanic and African American congregations and had meaningful breakout sessions for reflections among lay participants. Kent South Area reflected on “Adaptive Leadership”, while Sussex-SouthWest Area featured the theme of “The Church Came to Me” with the presentation of connected outreach ministries from churches. Instead of just taking reports, the Mission Connector Charge Conferences have been enriched by well-organized, Spirit-filled praises and worships, and deeper reflections on how to redefine mission, to reengage the mission field and refocus resources to sustain the mission.
By Dover District Superintendent Dr. Kyung Hee Sa