Representatives of a couple hundred congregations met to hear Bishop Mike lay out how Ministry Clusters (4-9 congregations doing things together) will basically replace the District as the link between the Annual Conference and the local church.
After some truly awful praise music and the bishop's PowerPoint presentation, we adjourned to the fellowship hall for some nice finger food and the chance to do what we came: pick teams.
It was part Sock Hop, part Wide Game. In a sock hop, people grab shoes to pick partners. In one popular wide game, everyone is given an animal to imitate, and one assembles teams by wandering around finding everyone else making the same animal noise that oneself is making. Yeah, it was bad.
Luckily, some basic legwork had been done ahead of time, and we were prepared with a basic framework of several churches. One dropped out to accept a better offer from another cluster, while a few little country churches sought to huddle up with us. In the end, we wound up with nine churches of various sizes and strengths, on both side of the common County border. I think it will do nicely. It might even be fun.
The congregations forming the Hoosier Hills Ministry Cluster will be (for now): Fairview (a westside Bloomington congregation), Ellettsville First (my small town congregation), and Spencer (the county seat town of Owen County next door) -- all churches with full-time, fully ordained pastors; Arlington (another westside congregation) with two part-time pastors; Freedom, Gosport, Millgrove, Simpson Chapel, and Shiloh-Wesley Chapel, all small congregations with part-time or supply pastors in little towns or open country.