Generative Discernment Academy Registration Now Open

By Ken Willard

UPDATE. Due to the current pandemic situation,
we have made the decision to postpone this event.
More information will be available soon.

  • Do you sense God “nudging” you toward something new?  
  • Are there people in your community or networks who desire a different kind of spiritual experience?  
  • Are you feeling called to offer a new ministry in order to reach new people?  
  • Would a new ministry or church change the dynamics of your city, town, or neighborhood?

If any of these questions resonate with you, or if you’re just looking for ways your existing ministry can generate new ministries, the Congregational Vitality Office of the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church has a great opportunity for you!

The Generative Discernment Academy will help people discern their gifts and potential for starting something new, explore various models of innovation, listen to the needs of their communities, and understand how their specific leadership styles can best be leveraged for creating new ministry opportunities.

The Academy will be held at LIFE UMC in Fairmont, WV.  This event will be led by Rev. Rachel Gilmore and Rev. Matt Temple, who have extensive experience planting new churches and launching new ministries throughout the United Methodist connection.  

Presentations and coursework will run from 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm Friday, October 8th
and from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Saturday, October 9th. 

Space is limited.  Registration will close on September 20th. 

What you will learn…

The two-day academy will not only give you tools and resources to more clearly discern where God is calling you, but it will also help you find clarity through small group discussions including monthly follow-up Zoom calls with Matt and Rachel as you develop and implement your plans.

Examples of new ministries would include, but are not limited to:

  • a new Sunday school class,
  • a new small group,
  • Celebrate Recovery ministry,
  • launching a multi-site,
  • starting a video venue,
  • launching a new worship service/style,
  • planting a new church,
  • launching a Fresh Expressions church,
  • church adoption,
  • vital church merger,
  • and more!


Cost is $25 for single registration or $10 per person for a team of 2 or more persons from the same church/charge. This will cover dinner on Friday and lunch on Saturday.  At the event, each person will receive a copy of the book, Expanding the Expedition Reach with Missional Communities by Rachel Gilmore.  

Questions or Additional Information…

Please contact Joe Webb, Conference Coordinator for New Faith Communities, at 304-481-5683  or 
Ken Willard, Director of Congregational Vitality, at 304-344-8331 (ext. 31).  

Getting Started…

Before attending the Generative Discernment Academy, each person who registers is asked to complete the Portico online course, Contextual Communities: Finding new opportunities amidst shifting cultural realities

Portico can be accessed via our conference website.

The Presenters…

Rev. Rachel Gilmore

Rachel most recently served as the Director of Recruiting, Training and Assessing for lay and clergy church planters in the United Methodist Church.  Rachel and her husband, Rev. Brandon Gilmore, are pastors at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizona where they are creating a new faith community while revitalizing the existing congregation.  

In 2009, Rachel planted a church in Virginia Beach and started two missional preschools.  In 2017 she cultivated fresh expressions in the local jail and in a feeding ministry which provided food to over 40,000 people in 2020.  Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Duke Divinity School as a Distinguished Leader after serving for two years in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria.  

She is the author of Expanding the Expedition Reach with Missional Communities and a contributor to Launching a New Worship Community: a Practical Guide for the 2020s (Upper Room, 2021).  Her story is also featured in Ready, Set, Plant (Upper Room, 2021) and From Franchise to Local Dive: Multiplying your Church by Developing your Contextual Flavor (Marketsquare, 2020).

Rev. Matt Temple

Matt is Co-Pastor at NewStory Chicago, serves as Associate Director of New Church Development at North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, and is a Church Planter at Connection Quad Cities. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and has extensive experience in planting new congregations and coaching church planters.