This spring, Jen Heffington and Stephanie Wallace traveled to Chicago for the annual National PAUMCS conference, where they spent three days learning, worshipping and networking with other United Methodist Administrators from around the country. They returned energized and ready to utilize what they learned. This year’s conference theme was “Diversity,” and we covered topics specifcally tailored to what we deal with on a daily basis as church administrators. We tackled hospitality and exploring cultural differences, not just the ‘obvious’ cultural differences, but also in the way that we work, communicate, and collaborate with each other. The biggest news out of this year’s conference was a much needed name change for our organization, the acronym stayed the same, but now, PAUMCS stands for Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional Structure, which is a far better reflection of our membership, which doesn’t include only administrators at the local church level, but also from District Offices and even assistants to our Bishops. Jen and I are incredibly grateful to the First Church Foundation and the Terry King Fund for allowing us to attend these conferences and grow in our jobs and in our faith.
– Stephanie Wallace
From the moment I entered the “First time attendees” orientation everyone was so welcoming. We were introduced to the board and encouraged to participate in meetings and events. From there we hit the ground running with a worship service, then lunch where we met our focus groups. Our focus groups consisted of administrative assistants from similar size churches. During our time at the conference we met with our focus groups intermittently and were able to discuss how the different speakers’ ideas related and could be implemented in our churches. Our speakers taught us new ways to engage in radical hospitality and how diversity in the work place can benefit us all. We were taken out of our comfort zone by doing an exercise where we wrote with our non-dominant hand to remind us how others may feel when out of their environment. We even learned about office ergonomics and how we were sitting all wrong! I am very grateful that I had this opportunity to grow and learn and make connections and friends for years to come!
– Jen Heffington