REGIONAL PROFILE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST) IN KENTUCKY
The region of Kentucky is in the process of searching for their next Regional Minister to lead them into this new chapter of their ministry and witness in the Bluegrass State. This profile is meant to give potential candidates an understanding of who we are as a region and what we are looking for in our next Regional Minister.
REGIONAL STAFF (currently)
FT Regional Minister
FT Associate Regional Minister (retiring in Aug. 2021)
PT Youth and Young Adult Ministries/Outdoor Ministries and Staff Consultant to the Committee on the Ministry
PT Editor, CCK News
PT District Minister to Districts 10 and 11
Two FT support staff
Regional Office, Red Mile Road, Lexington
Camp Wakon’Da-Ho, Yosemite
Camp Kum-Ba-Ya, Benton
The 2019 Yearbook and Directory reports the Kentucky region has 205 congregations. Of those, 167 are considered active. The congregations break down in average attendance as follows:
1-25 35 21%
26-50 52 31%
51-100 43 26%
101-200 25 15%
201-350 10 6%
351+ 2 1%
There are currently 372 pastors with standing in the Kentucky region. Of those, 312 (84%) are ordained and 60 (16%) are commissioned, 252 (68%) are female and 120 (32%) are male. There are currently 126 retired inactive clergy.
Although the resources from Disciples Mission Fund and the annual Christmas Offering have not seen growth in recent years, the Kentucky Region is blessed with other resources, in addition to DMF and the Christmas Offering, through the generosity of donors who are passionate about the ministry of the Region. Thankfully, the Kentucky Region is financially stable as it provides a wide-range of ministries.
Mission Behind Bars and Beyond
Kentucky Council of Churches
Kentucky Christian Missionary Convention
Lexington Theology Seminary
Christian Church Homes of Kentucky
THE WEST AREA
The West Area Ministry has a rich tradition dating to the mid-19th century. In various expressions it has served and nurtured Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations and ministers in the western third of Kentucky for 180 years. Currently, the West Area Ministry serves 41 congregations in 19 counties in the Christian Church in Kentucky (Districts 1, 2 and 3). While the West Area congregations are geographically scattered, all are within a two-hour drive of the West Area office staff, who work virtually from Madisonville.
The West Area Ministry is a distinctly separate self-governing organization operating as an integral part of the whole ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky. In consultation with the CCK Regional Minister, the West Area calls its own minister, who is an Associate Regional Minister; establishes its own budget; and carries out its ministry of nurturing and supporting congregations and ministers toward faithful, effective and innovative ministries through the regional values to “Care, Connect, and Equip.”
THE KENTUCKY REGION
After serving the region for 27 years, 15 as Regional Minister, Rev. Greg Alexander retired on April 30, 2019. The region called Rev. Dean Phelps as the Interim Regional Minister, and when his contract was extended, the title was changed to Transitional Regional Minister. Under Dean’s leadership, we have not slowed down our transitional work. At a called Regional Assembly in August 2019, the region voted to restructure the makeup of the regional board, making it more streamlined and ensuring representational diversity. Those changes will take effect with the 2020 Regional Assembly.
Even in transition, the Kentucky Region has a number of important ministries that are making a difference for the body of Christ in Kentucky. Our New Church Team has done a wonderful job setting up an infrastructure for success, and opportunities abound for new church plants in our region. Our 3L Learning Groups bring together pastors for support, nurture, and accountability. Our Green Chalice Ministry continues to grow as we help care for God’s creation. Our Outdoor Ministries remain vibrant, with two camps serving the children and youth of the region. We maintain a strong and collegial relationship with the Kentucky Christian Missionary Convention, which represents our historically African-American congregations. And we are blessed with three institutions of higher education (including a seminary) with a Disciples affiliation.
As part of the search process, the Regional Minister Search Team surveyed the region to gather input on what people felt were the strengths of the region, the challenges it faces, and the qualities they want in our next Regional Minister. Here is a summary of their feedback:
The surveys named several strengths that the region possesses: strong congregations and ministers; a strong Disciples identity and deep history; the presence of Disciples-affiliated educational institutions; a hard-working regional staff; and vibrant camp program. To go along with those strengths, the surveys lifted up several hopes and dreams for the region in the next five years, including: that churches would be better connected to each other; that the camps would be brought up to date; that search and call process would receive more attention; and that there would be some sort of evangelism training for congregations.
While the Kentucky region has a lot to offer, it is not without challenges. The surveys named some of them: church aging and decline; financial realities; communication barriers; “fear” phobias that permeate our thinking. In addition, there were several priorities lifted up as urgent, which parallel some of the challenges: a focus on church membership and growth; achieving financial sustainability amidst declining finances; and keeping our camps vibrant and usable.
So what kind of person are we looking for to be our next Regional Minister? The survey responses highlighted several criteria: a person of God with authentic faith; an innovative thinker; a visionary leader; an effective communicator; someone with pastoral presence; and a person willing to travel.
The future for the Kentucky region is bright, and we look forward to finding the right person to help lead us forward. We trust in God’s grace and provision in this process and are excited to see where God is calling us in the future.