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Finding a Halo of Possibility

January 23, 2020

Rev. Greg Bergquist
Rev. Greg Bergquist, GBHEM General Secretary


A halo of possibility is always right beside us.

Dr. Stuart Kauffman, a theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher, believes that alongside the other general laws of physics should be something he calls the “Adjacent Possible Theory.” The idea of the “adjacent possible” suggests that at any given moment there is a space around every person (and around every institution) of untapped potential and possibility.

Kauffman posits that we can enter this halo of possibility if we are willing to make changes, if we are willing to step out of what is familiar. At the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, we have begun making changes and we are stepping out of what is familiar in order to carry our mission forward.

No matter the outcome of the 2020 General Conference, The United Methodist Church is going to change. We don’t yet know how. The only thing we know for certain is that whatever direction the Church takes, GBHEM’s mission will always be vital to making principled Christian leaders for the Church, the academy and the world.

There will always be students who need greater access to higher education. There will always be youth answering their calls to ministry. There will always be clergy who need training and support. We’re going to continue doing those things through May of 2020 and beyond, but we are going to be more adaptive in our approach.

We are preparing for a new reality that, among other things, will almost certainly include a reduction in apportionment funding. With that in mind, GBHEM has begun a deliberative process to remodel its work. We’re taking these concrete steps to keep the agency valuable and sustainable into the future:

  • Complete Program Evaluation: A careful review of all existing programs and their effectiveness relative to our mission and the time and money we invest in them.
  • Cost Savings Review: Identifying regular expenditures that can be lowered or eliminated entirely.
  • Exploring Additional Revenue Streams: As Church budgets shrink, exploring other avenues to operating as a self-sustaining non-profit.

In the year ahead, we will walk boldly into the “adjacent possible.” I know our agency’s halo of possibility shines brightly, and with the help of our friends and supporters, we have everything we need to build the GBHEM of the future.

As we prepare for change, I ask you, our constituents, to:

  • Engage in the discussions before and during GC2020.
  • Read our agency reports and learn about our pending legislation here.
  • Share what you know and appreciate about GBHEM’s work and its impact with others in the connection.

We are grateful for your support of our agency and glad to have you beside us on this journey into GBHEM’s halo of possibility.


Rev. Greg Bergquist
General Secretary
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
The United Methodist Church

P.S. Be sure to follow @GBHEM on Facebook and Twitter to get all the latest news from our agency.

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