General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt, once a local pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is gearing up for the first time he will be chairing a General Conference — General Conference 2020 (GC20), May 31 – June 3, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Although his responsibilities and titles have changed within The Wesleyan Church (TWC), he says his mentality as a former local pastor has not.
“The vision of transforming lives, churches and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ — that’s what we’re focused on in our local church; that’s what we’re focused on as we approach General Conference,” Schmidt said.
Immediately following General Conference 2016, Schmidt asked the collective Wesleyan body to pray that God’s intended focus for the church be revealed.
“Two things clearly came out of that prayer focus: one was we have got to be about making disciples, and the other is we’ve got to be about multiplying churches. So that is what eventually led into the statement that we call our strategic focus: ‘celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until we have a transforming presence in every ZIP code,’” he said.
The strategic focus is grounded in Acts 1:8 and Ephesians 4:11 – 12, which speak to the coming of the Holy Spirit and his ability to prompt every person to make disciples, building up the kingdom of God “to the ends of the earth.”
This focus led to GC20’s theme, “Unleashed.”
Schmidt not only emphasized the power an unleashing could have within TWC, but he defined what “Unleashed” means as the Church moves toward GC20.
“[To be unleashed] is to be sure that God’s Spirit has complete freedom to do the Spirit’s work among us — to lead us, to prompt us, to empower us, to convict us about areas we need to repent and change,” Schmidt said. “So, part of what we seek when we’re together is that God’s Spirit will be unleashed, will be free to move among us as we gather at GC20 and as a church more broadly, but then that the Spirit unleashed in us empowers us.”
His prayer is that this unleashing of the Holy Spirit within the Church will empower its people “to be innovative, to be courageous, to take kingdom risks, whatever is necessary to achieve our focus in making disciples, multiplying churches and being a transforming presence.”
As GC20 approaches, Schmidt encourages the Church to pray over the conference, the delegates voted in at the district conferences this summer and the pending decisions voted upon by the delegates — an example of those decisions includes a new approach to funding the mission with the United Stewardship Fund.
“Part of my prayer for General Conference is that anything that’s important from God’s perspective will become inescapable, and anything that is not of God will become marginalized,” he said.
And though voting on memorials and other decisions of the church is a main focus for General Conference, Schmidt says GC20 is yet another opportunity for fellowship, networking and a chance for future delegates to learn the process of the proceedings.
Schmidt encourages nondelegates (lay and clergy) to be engaged with GC20 onsite or online. GC20 will be held at the America’s Center located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, within walking distance of the Arch. Three of the reserved hotels are located across the street and the fourth is on the same block. The conference will be livestreamed allowing churches and individuals to join by watching business sessions and special programming online.