Welcome to the new CEF website! At the point when I'm writing this, the Board of Directors (especially Jonathan LeMaster-Smith) have been working like crazy the past couple of weeks to move our database and set up a new website. We have MUCH to do to restore all of our archives and add new content, but we wanted to relaunch as soon as it was possible.
In case you missed my email on August 31, CEF has been undergoing enormous changes behind the scenes. Here's a brief overview.
WEBSITE AND DATABASE MOVE
For a variety of reasons, it became necessary to move our website and membership database. This process has begun in earnest, but there are quite a few steps that remain - particularly restoring the archives and setting up more Communities of Practice. We'll continue to work diligently on those over the next few weeks.
As we reported late last year, our Director of Services, Andrew Schleicher, resigned in November. For this and other reasons, the Board had an opportunity to explore various staffing options.
Many membership organizations have switched to using "association management companies" (AMC) instead of having a staff person, and that is what we have voted to do for a trial period of one year. AMCs offer organizations several specialized staff, who work together as a team to assist us as needed. For example, they'll typically have an event planner, a marketing specialist, an accountant, and a customer support specialist.
Besides having access to highly-trained staff members, one major benefit to the organization is a significant cost savings, perhaps as much as $10,000 per year. To the Board, this seemed like good stewardship of CEF resources. Ultimately, we selected XMI, a company based in Nashville, to work with us. The transition took much longer than expected, but they have started recently, and we're very happy to be working with them.
Up until the United Methodist Publishing House move to a new building a few 11months ago, CEF rented office space there. We were offered space at the General Board of Discipleship, and that is where some of our archives are being stored.
This move would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of former Board member Diana Hynson and current board members Carolyn Peterson, Carol Krau, and Marlys Barry. Together, they spent countless hours combing through the archives, getting rid of stuff we no longer needed, moving box after box, and much more. We continue to be indebted to them for their help with this monumental process.
Our new contact information:
Christians Engaged in Faith Formation
618 Church St, Suite 220
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone: 866.629.3113 or 615.522.5279
2016 AND 2018 CONFERENCES
Our 2016 national Conference will be in Nashville for a second time and will be a very different type of event, focusing on Communities of Practice. Diana Butler Bass will spend most of a day with us, setting the stage as we consider faith formation in today's world. Our design team is now formed, led by Diana Hynson. You'll definitely be hearing a lot more about this in just a few weeks!
As for 2018, our location has been decided, and we even tentatively have a keynote speaker lined up. It is...well, still a secret at this point, since there are many details to begin to get settled. Sorry! All we'll say so far is that it's a city CEF has never visited before, and we will soon poll the CEF membership about a possible change of dates for that event.
A NEW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
As described briefly at CEF2014, our Board of Directors has reorganized into four working teams: Communities of Practice, Marketing and Communications, Financial Sustainability, and Technology. Each Board member will work with two of these teams, and in the near future we'll be inviting you to assist us with many volunteer tasks we are developing.
CHANGES TO OUR COMMUNICATIONS
A confession: as a board, we have not done an adequate job of keeping you informed of all that has been happening over the past 10 months. Not only have all of the changes already mentioned been incredibly time-consuming, several of us on the board have dealt with health concerns, retirements, job changes, moves, deaths, and much more. Not having a staff person to help us with emailing our membership was also a factor in our lack of communications. We truly apologize for leaving our members hanging this year!
Moving forward, our intent is to communicate with our membership far more frequently through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Our monthly Newsline email newsletter will morph into a shorter, simpler and more frequent email. Not only will this enable us to get out news on a more timely basis, it also will encourage people to check out and engage with the latest content on the CEF website.
In addition, we'll be utilizing Facebook and Twitter more regularly. By liking, sharing and re-Tweeting CEF content regularly, you help ensure that our posts are more frequently noticed by existing and potential friends and members.
If you have not been a member in a while, or if you just haven't renewed your annual membership this year, I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible. CEF is on the move, literally and figuratively, but we need your support more than ever to help ensure that we continue to grow and change. Whether you have been a member for years or only for a short time, you are the reason CEF exists, and we definitely value your active participation.
A FINAL NOTE
Obviously, the Board has had a huge number of tasks to work on, as noted above. We know we've been a bit quiet in the past few months, but please know there is much that is happening behind the scenes to make CEF an even stronger organization, give you greater opportunities for connection, and provide you with far more value for your membership dues. We are all volunteers, though, so the many tasks before us sometimes take a bit longer for us to accomplish than any of us might hope for. Thanks so much for your patience during this time of transition. It definitely feels like we're about to emerge from the chrysalis!
It is truly a joy to be able to serve this terrific organization as the Board President, and I'm very excited about the direction in which we are moving. I would invite you to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or needs. We'll do the best we can to serve you!
Tim Gossett, President of the CEF Board of Directors
Email: tim [at] cwames [dot] org