The 2016 General Conference mandated a new Eight-Year Assessment plan for Clergy.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) hosted a three-day training, February 19-21, for Annual Conference leaders focused on understanding, developing and implementing the Eight-Year Assessment (EYA) as sanctioned by the 2016 General Conference and described in paragraph 349 of the “Book of Discipline.” The training provided insights into clergy wellness, occupational burnout and spiritual vitality.
The EYA requires clergy to engage in a six-month series of personal and professional assessment and development trainings every eight years. The actual process, design and implementation that each Annual Conference will follow is determined by the Cabinet and Board of Ordained Ministry, in consultation with the Chairs of the Orders of Deacons and Elders and Fellowship of Local Pastors, many of whom attended the training.
The event opened with worship and a message from Bishop Laurie Haller, Iowa Annual Conference. “How will an intentional, personal, professional, and spiritual assessment every eight years empower you and your colleagues to stay grounded and remember who you are in Christ? For it can go either way,” preached Bishop Haller. “I believe that Jesus is calling
“The United Methodist Church to go deep. General Conference is calling our clergy to go deep. And God has called each one of you as conference leaders to go deep. Are you willing to go deep?” Bishop Haller posed a series of questions for attendees to reflect on, discuss and answer throughout the training event.
“If we, as pastors, don’t make our own journey, we can’t help others on theirs,” said Rev. Dr. Kim Cape during opening plenary. Rev. Greg Bergquist, associate general secretary, Division of Ordained Ministry, GBHEM, spoke to the EYA program being a holistic and transformative process for clergy. “We’re fostering intellectual engagement, spiritual and character formation, and leadership development for all clergy. It’s part of an “Ecology of Call” from the first moment of discernment to the decision to retire.”
Speaking to the continuous cycle of discernment, Rev. Trip Lowery, director of Young Adult Ministry Discernment and Enlistment, GBHEM, added, “We don’t remain the same. We grow. We develop. We’re not born the same way that we are right now, and in each season of our life and career, we grow better at what we do.”