Q&A Panel Hits Elders' Summits

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thumbSimilar to many reality TV shows, a panel of people sat in front of the Elders’ Summit attendees, March 14 and May 2-4. Instead of judging participants’ performances, the panel of Conference employees, pastors and those retired from church work, answered open and honest questions submitted by attendees.

Audio files of the summits are available online. Clips include several breakout sessions, as well as the panel discussion.


(John Cress, Vice President for Pastoral Ministries.)


“On evaluations from our past summits, people commented that they would like more time to dialogue with their peers,” said John Cress, Vice President for Pastoral Ministries. “We considered directed group conversations, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and not thoroughly discussion or brainstorm ideas. We decided a panel could be a good alternative.”


Attendees anonymously submitted questions and after tossing out any duplicates, those on the panel organized the questions in a hierarchy they thought would best reflect the core questions of the group. Then, the panel read and discussed each question, pulling from their past experiences and asking the group for suggestions.


(Panel for summit at Camp Blue Ridge.)

“It was very well received,” said Cress. “This is the first year we’ve incorporated this component. I think we will continue to streamline it and include it in our future meetings.” One attendee added to that by saying, “The Q&A panel discussion was full of wisdom and insight. The randomness of the questions brought out great points. I only wish it would have last longer, so we could have gotten more questions in.”


In the last three years, attendance to Elders’ Summits have increase significantly, with meetings in the North now drawing more than 100 participants and the one in the South bringing in about 90.


“I think part of our success in these summits stems from changing the format,” said Cress. “We now offer a one-day summit in the North. Those churches are much closer together, so it’s easier for leaders to convene just for the day. In the South, the churches are much further apart, so we feel a weekend format is the best. That one is held at Camp Blue Ridge (Montebello, Va.). We do the same breakout sessions, but include additional worship services and more time to enjoy nature, recharge and relax.”


Each summit had four plenary sessions and four breakout sessions. This year’s theme, “His Way,” focused on doing God’s work in His time and His way. Participants were challenged with assessing cultural shifts in their areas and deciding if a change needs to happen to maintain the health of the church and accomplish God’s mission.


“This was such a spiritual blessing,” said another attendee. “There was a great attitude from everyone and honest discussions about the direction of the church. The positive energy, wisdom and insight made the meetings so beneficial. I am definitely walking away with fresh ideas, concepts and new things to think about. I will definitely be coming back next year!”


Audio files of the summits are available online. Clips include several breakout sessions, as well as the panel discussion.


-Tiffany Doss



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