A note from Charles Pursley, NDUMC Staff-Parish Relations Chair
Dear North Decatur UMC:
Since her arrival as Bishop of the North Georgia Conference, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson has been very interested in our ministry at North Decatur. For the past few months, she and members of the Cabinet have been consulting on ways the Conference can best help achieve the mission of God in the Decatur Community. Last Thursday, February 2, Bishop Sue and Dr. Coy Hinton, our District Superintendent, came to NDUMC to meet with our Church Council and explain her vision for a unified ministry in Decatur and to discuss North Decatur UMC's role in that vision.
Bishop Sue's innovative vision is for a missional partnership between North Decatur and Decatur First United Methodist Churches. This venture will involve a coordinated structure in pastoral leadership, planning, and ministry. While this is a new concept for us, it has been a successful model in many other areas. After our discussion with Bishop Sue, the Church Council strongly believes that this is an exciting opportunity to expand our ministry to the existing community and to serve our anticipated new neighbors. This is a bold vision, and we believe it is of God.
This partnership will bring a few changes to the way we do ministry at NDUMC. At the 2017 Annual Conference in June, Dalton will be appointed as the senior pastor of Decatur First. The Reverend Patrick Faulhaber, the current associate pastor at Decatur First, will be appointed as our pastor at North Decatur, and a new associate pastor (not yet named) will be appointed to Decatur First.
While his office will be at Decatur First, Dalton still will be a significant part of our continued success at North Decatur. In addition to his appointment to Decatur First, Dalton also will be formally appointed as senior pastor of the missional partnership between NDUMC and DFUMC, overseeing the new pastor at North Decatur, Decatur First's associate minister, and Decatur First's staff. The staff at North Decatur will be accountable to Rev. Faulhaber. A preaching rotation will mean that each pastor will continue to preach periodically in each church. They all three will work together, under Dalton's leadership, in the planning and implementation of our joint vision in mission to the Decatur community and in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I know you will have many questions. Many details have yet to be worked out. So that we can talk about what this partnership will look like, we have planned a "town hall" meeting this Sunday between worship services, at 10:00am in the fellowship hall. Please make every effort to attend.
Below, you will see a note from Dalton with additional information. We are all excited about where this is all headed. Please pray for both churches and for our missional partnership. I truly believe God has great plans for us.
Chair, Staff Parish Relations Committee
North Decatur United Methodist Church
A note from Dalton
I want to echo the note from Charles with my own, to briefly share three things.
First, as I have been in conversation with Bishop Sue, our DS Coy Hinton, Charles Pursley, and the entire church council, I am convinced that this move--unconventional as it is--is the best thing for the kingdom of God, particularly in the Decatur community. We have never been big on "conventional" at NDUMC: not prior to my tenure, nor during it. What we have been about is welcoming the stranger, making disciples, and changing the world. This missional partnership--which the United Methodist Book of Discipline calls a "cooperative parish"--will allow us more effectively to make disciples and to do meaningful mission in Decatur.
Second, I am delighted that this arrangement lets me stay connected to the NDUMC community. While Patrick will be the lead pastor at NDUMC, he will be appointed as my associate pastor in the missional partnership, as we figure out what this all means and discover ways we can work together (including a preaching rotation that will regularly bring me to NDUMC).
Finally, let me say a word about Patrick Faulhaber: you are going to love him. I mean, you are really going to love him. He's a better preacher than me, more outgoing, more thoughtful. As soon as he arrived at Decatur First, he threw his whole heart into its ministry, quickly becoming beloved by people of all ages; I look forward to seeing him do the same thing at NDUMC. The bottom line is that he's a spiritually grounded, forward-thinking, delightful guy. He's also my friend, which means that this new partnership was off to a great start even before it started. Decatur First is sorry to be losing him as their associate pastor, but they are heartened he will continue to be a part of their Story in an innovative way.
There's a lot to be figured out, but I'm more excited than ever about the work to which God has called all of us. This innovative vision speaks to the trust that Bishop Sue and our district superintendent have in you, and she has given us permission to announce the new missional partnership at this early date so that we can get a head start on all the great work that is to come. I hope to see you this Sunday at 10am to talk more.