My husband and I have lived in Houston, Texas, for more than 40 years, and we have lived in the same house for 25 years. Once our two kids moved out, we were ready for some changes. After four years of thinking about what to do with our house, we decided to build a new structure on the existing foundation–because we love our location and neighborhood. We spent nine months working with architects and contractors to design a floor plan and tackled the painful task of sorting through 25 years of accumulated “treasures.” We moved into a temporary rental home that came with its own set of challenges, but one year later we moved into our brand-new house. The change was often times overwhelming, but the result, a new home built on the original, memory-filled foundation, was worth every anxious moment.
I relate this story now because it reminds me in so many ways of the APCE journey. This beloved association that has operated in the same way for so many years needs an update—a reformation. We have all been part of the changing environment within our local churches. Membership numbers are decreasing along with the amount of income that is being pledged. As a result full-time educators are downsized to part-time positions, funding for continuing education is cut, and volunteers are charged with the multitude of tasks that paid professionals once handled.
As an organization, APCE has been slow to respond to the new reality. Although full-time educators are few and far between, we continue to put our efforts into hosting an annual event for the professional, full-time educator. We have become an annual event associated with an organization rather than an organization that offers an annual event. For years the conversation has been: “Are you going to APCE?” “Who’s keynoting APCE this year?” “Where is APCE going to be next year?” If one didn’t attend the annual event, one usually didn’t join APCE that year. For most, the main reason for paying APCE’s membership fee has been to get a discount on the annual event registration.
It’s time to rebrand, reform, and renew APCE. Let us keep our foundational mission statement to connect, enrich, empower, and sustain all persons serving in educational ministry in the Reformed family of churches. But let us change our focus to intentionally involve all those who are serving in our churches, not only full-time paid professionals, but also part-time staff members, teaching elders, volunteers, and students.
In 2012 a strategic plan began to evolve. The Cabinet received a grant through the APCE Endowment Fund to engage Rodger Nishioka and Kathy Dawson, professors at Columbia Theological Seminary, in a two-day strategic planning session. Surveys of the APCE Cabinet and the general membership produced an exceptional number of responses. The constituents voiced that it was time for a change.
A twelve-member Restructuring Task Force was appointed and worked for nine months to design the plan that was approved at the meeting of the Corporation in San Jose. The overall goal was to propose a cabinet structure to function as an administrative council that would allow a broader membership to be involved. Through dedicated, creative, and faithful discernment, we believe we have designed a plan that will inspire APCE to grow and better achieve its overall mission to connect, enrich, empower, and sustain all persons serving in educational ministry. We hope and pray that you, too, will gain a sense of hope and excitement, as our organization prepares to take a leap of faith into the future.
The Reformed APCE Structure
The Coordinating Council will serve as the new version of the Cabinet. This group will consist of the Executive Council (President, President-Elect, Past-President, Secretary, and Treasurer) and the Moderators of each Ministry Team (former Standing Committees). Denominational staff will meet with this Council.
This group will meet in the fall for a day and a half to do strategic planning and coordinate the work of all the Ministry Teams. Up until now, the fall Cabinet meeting involved 34 folks for a four-day, all-expenses-paid gathering that involved every aspect of APCE.
Nine Ministry Teams will now do the work of the previous four standing committees. Collectively, these Ministry Teams will form the Leadership Council.
In most cases, each team will have either six or nine members—three rotating classes of two or three members. Most Ministry Teams will only have one face-to-face meeting in conjunction with the Annual Event. All other meetings will be held by means of conference calls or online meetings.
What excites me most about this new plan is that as many as 86 members will be involved in generating ideas to inspire the membership to carry out the mission of APCE. We now have a structure in place to:
- create an online clearing house/resource bank and training site for all partner denominations
- expand opportunities for learning at the local level
- create an organization-wide mentor program
- recognize, affirm, support, and empower all in Christian educational ministry
- connect regional and multicultural representatives through training and empowering them for work across their constituencies and throughout APCE
- design creative fundraising and become financially aware
- utilize social media effectively.
We need your support to move forward. I urge you to read the descriptions of the nine Ministry Teams on the APCE website and complete an application to be part of the new APCE Leadership Council. The change can seem overwhelming right now. But as I sit here in my newly renovated home office looking out on the neighborhood we’ve called home for 25 years, I am confident that what lies ahead of us will be worth every anxious moment. I look forward to working with you to shape the future of APCE.
Anne Wilson is the 2014 President of APCE. She has served as the chair of both the Strategic Planning Task Force and the Restructuring Task Force. Her first three years of service on the Cabinet were as the Asian American Representative. She retired from the staff at Northwoods Presbyterian Church in Houston in 2009 where she served as the director of children and family ministry. She has also served on the staff of two other Presbyterian churches in Houston. The accomplishments for which Anne and her husband are most proud are raising their two children, Meredith and Michael, whose families have produced two grandsons and six grand-dogs.