Conference Hopes to Launch Leaders Forward in Vision, Action

Arkansas Launch 2.0 attendees (L to R): Rev. J. Wayne Clark, Emily Autry, Rev. Patti Butler, Kay Kotan, Rev. Jana Green, Rev. Roy Beth Kelley, Trevor Hardcastle, Rev. Natasha Murray, Rev. Annie Lankford, Rev. Andrea Cummings, David Martin, Rev. Will Choate, Rev. JJ Whitney, Rev. DeeDee Autry, Rev. David Freeman, Rev. Lynn Kilbourne, Rev. Brittany Watson, Michelle Moore, Rev Mary Jane Cole, Rev. Mackey Yokem. (Not pictured: Rev. Eva Englert-Jessen, Rev. Haley Jones, Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, Rev. Katie Pearce, Rev. Susan Ledbetter, and Bishop Gary Mueller.)

contributed by Haley Walker-Klein, UMFA

The city of Little Rock played host to more than 80 attendees at the Launch 2.0 experience in early October. Launch 2.0 is the second step of the Courageous Leadership Imperative (CLI), the brainchild of the late Jim Argue, past President and CEO of The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, and Tom Locke, President of the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF). With support from the Lilly Endowment, TMF’s Leadership Ministry team offers the CLI, a learning network for courageous leaders.

The first Launch conference, version 1.0, was held last year in St. Louis and offered a large group experience designed to create a network for dynamic leaders, expand imagination for what’s possible, and embolden courage during times of change. The Launch 1.0 program was attended by 130 clergy members, including nine from Arkansas.

“When the organizers set out to plan Launch 2.0, they had learned from pastors that it would be helpful to have some of their team from their church with them,” said the Rev. Lynn Kilbourne, senior pastor at FUMC North Little Rock and Launch 2.0 Design Team Leader. “Launch 2.0 participants were encouraged to bring two other people from their church with them. Ideally, the ‘triads’ would have a dreamer, influencer, and implementer. I was excited to bring two folks from my church with me- Rev. Annie Lankford, our Associate Pastor; and David Martin, Lay Leader.”

“We Are Curio”- a design-centered innovation group from Florida- led the triads through their four-step innovation process called “IEDA.” The four steps of IEDA are: Immerse, Expand, Design, Act, explained Kilbourne, “having my team together for the event allowed us to better ground our visioning and work with IEDA. It wasn’t just an exercise in visioning, our time at Launch 2.0 has laid the groundwork for visioning that can happen in our local church. Together we learned that courageous leadership includes risky ideas and projects like transforming spaces and creating new ministries, but it also includes the work of creating a shared vision for a congregation.”

“It was inspiring to learn from courageous leaders from Little Rock, including Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, and Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a higher education administrator and philanthropist, said Kilbourne. “We were able to hear the exciting ministries happening in other churches, and be reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to be courageous in our leadership and ministries.” The Arkansas Conference Launch 2.0 attendees will meet in early November to discuss their program’s next steps.

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