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Allegheny West Members Focus on “Leading the Change”

By Taashi Rowe
Photos by Bryant Taylor and Takesha Burden

“I came to learn more about how I can serve the Lord better,” shared Willie Mae Johnson, a deaconess and community services leader at the Oberlin Park Street church in Oberlin, Ohio. She was one of 460 local church leaders who came from all corners of the Allegheny West Conference (AWC) to participate in the second annual leadership development weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Among the attendees were 70 Spanish-speaking church leaders who enjoyed not only real-time translation during the general sessions, but a separate seminar track in their native tongue.

With the overall theme of “Leading the Change,” the workshops were geared toward helping church leaders in every ministry—from Adventurers to Women’s Ministries—remain relevant in a constantly changing culture. Some of the workshops included “Healing Hurting Men,” “Creation Health: The Core Principles,” “Growing Your Music Ministry” and “Contagious Generosity: The Key to Continuous Blessings.”

Fredrick Russell, AWC president, inaugurated the weekend by sharing the 10 greatest leadership lessons he has learned. One of those lessons is prayer. “Before I’m a leader, I am a Christian … I cannot lead unless I pray,” he shared.

Leslie Pollard, PhD, DMin, MBA, vice president for Diversity and Leadership Development at Loma Linda University (Calif.), spoke for the weekend’s general and plenary sessions. His talks centered on the theme “Trust: The Secret That Drives Progress.” He encouraged leaders to know their mission and develop a mission statement that will guide them. He also put the onus on them to create “an environment of health [in their churches] so that when the sick come in they can be healed.”