Regional News

Vision 2021 Capacity Plan approved

January 26, 2021 Published by Neil Topliffe

Five-year blueprint for regional ministry

A final report, with some revisions, moving the Michigan Region toward a stronger, more viable ministry in support of congregations was approved by the Regional Board, January 16. 

The Capacity Plan was the result of a year-long study under the leadership of Rick Morse, Hope Partnership of Disciples Church Extension Fund, Indianapolis. Morse undertook extensive demographic and statistical research of our state and communities and with Regional leaders engaged in online surveys with clergy and local church leaders. The study also included one-on-one interviews and online conferences, looking toward identifying Michigan Disciples strengths over the coming five years.

Highlights of plan

Highlights of the plan include moving to a part time Regional Minister and/or developing a partnership with another Region to provide our Regional Minister. The plan focuses upon an expansion of our current Regional Elder Model, moving to two or three Area Regional Associates who would receive a stipend income and serve a cluster of congregations on a part-time basis. The plan also recommends selling or leasing the Regional Office and locating staff and administrative office functions in leased space such as a local church.

The goal is to provide a stronger support system for our local churches …”

“We see this Capacity Plan, as an exciting challenge toward building a more viable ministry in Michigan for our Disciples,” said Neil Topliffe, Vision 2021 & Beyond Task Group chairperson. “The goal is to build a stronger support system for our local churches even as we face the reality of no longer being able to sustain our Regional church financially as we have in the past,” he added. “It’s not just about being responsible stewards, but even more so being effective witnesses with our congregations toward a more viable witness as Followers of the Word.”

A blueprint over five years

Topliffe noted that the Vision 2021 & Beyond Task Group will provide oversight in updating and implementing the Capacity Plan blueprint, with various Commissions picking up particular areas of responsibility. The 2021 focus will be upon sharing the plan with our Disciples clergy and congregational leaders in helping mold the plan for action. The year will also include calling a new Regional Minister and Regional Area Associates. A task group will be assigned as well to determine best options for sale or lease of the current Regional Office. 

Options being considered

The Task Group included in its proposal to the Regional Board, the option of exploring with another Disciples Region a partnership by which the two Regions would share one Regional Minister. It is a model currently in place between the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Regions and is being considered by other Disciples Regions.

Download documents

The full Capacity Plan, as well as the background study document and an Executive Summary are available online.