Over 150 Wesleyan leaders representing 16 districts, 14 states, and four countries attended this year’s Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Annual Conference in Memphis, Tenn., this November.
A partner of The Wesleyan Church, the CCDA gathers thousands of church practitioners, denominational leaders, faith-based organizers, community developers, and advocates from across the world for its annual conference.
Every year, Wesleyan leaders attend Wesleyan Networking Day, a pre-shoulder event. This is a special time for Wesleyan leaders to learn, network, and tell how God is transforming their local churches, neighborhoods, and cities. The Church Multiplication and Discipleship Division (CMAD) hosts this annual event under the leadership of Rev. Jeremy Summers, director of spiritual formation.
More than 100 participated in the Wesleyan networking pre-event, to hear this year’s guests, CCDA Founder Dr. John Perkins & CEO Noel Castellanos, speak. Both brought challenging and prophetic word to Wesleyan leaders. The event concluded with dinner and a time of encouragement and prayer, which included hearing from Wesleyan leaders Dr. Jo Anne Lyon (General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church), Dr. Jim Dunn (executive director of CMAD), and other CMAD directors. Rev. Summers also presented a report on efforts made in the cities and the future movement of Urban Urgency.
In addition to the annual Wesleyan networking event, The Wesleyan Church offered workshop roundtables at the CCDA Conference on various topics including church planting, youth, children, multi-ethnic, and justice ministries.
“It was an honor to host a workshop on the first morning of the CCDA Conference to discuss how The Wesleyan Church is connecting with issues of injustice and providing a forum for collaboration,” said Rev. Beth Cossin, director of the Wesleyan Justice Network.
“Almost 30 Wesleyans gathered to have honest dialogue about a broad spectrum of challenges. It is clear that we need to wrestle more with questions like, ‘Are we a Church with a history of justice or do we actually have a theology of justice that informs our praxis?’ It was such a great opportunity to listen and learn from each other as we openly shared questions, observations, and frustrations. While there is much work to do, it is encouraging to bear witness to the amazing work that is being done by dedicated practitioners of restorative justice–working to reconcile God with people, reconcile people with each other, restore people in the context of community, and empower communities to heal broken systems.”
Chris Williams, executive pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Ind., found value in the networking opportunities the CCDA Conference provided.
“The CCDA conference allowed our team to connect with other like-minded missional practitioners for inspiration, challenge, and instruction,” said Rev. Williams. “We were reminded that as Christians, and especially as Wesleyans, we are called to bring the whole gospel to the gritty reality of our community. CCDA renewed us in our mission to partner with God to redeem individuals and transform our community.”
A North Carolina pastor felt rejuvenated in continuing ministry at the local level.
“At CCDA, I and fellow Wesleyan leaders were given an opportunity to encounter and connect with a diversity of faithful incarnational witnesses to the ministry of Christ from all over our country,” said Anthony Smith, pastor at Mission House, Salisbury, NC. “I left reinvigorated, inspired and readied to continue our own local mission.”
Rev. Summers left the conference encouraged by The Wesleyan Church’s intentionality and movement in reaching and engaging communities and cites.
“I’m always challenged and humbled by the stories shared by our Wesleyan leaders of how God is redeeming and transforming their churches, neighborhoods, and cities,” said Rev. Summers. “Our leaders are dedicated to leading and moving The Wesleyan Church to join the work of God and the people of God in our cities, bringing the whole gospel to the whole person and the whole community. We are in good hands!”
Next year’s Wesleyan Networking Day and CCDA Conference will be held August 31-September 3, 2016, in Los Angeles, Calif. More details to follow.
For more information on engaging with and discipling your community or to ask questions, e-mail Rev. Jeremy Summers, director of spiritual formation, or call 317.774.3891.
Photo: Wesleyan leaders across the country talk to Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church. Pictured, L to R: Jonathan Lewis (North Carolina East District), Richard Schenck (Indiana Central District), Dr. Lyon, Anthony Smith (North Carolina East District), and Dustin Wilson (North Carolina East District).