This blog has since its beginning sought to foster conversations about the global nature of The United Methodist Church, both at a scholarly and a practical level. Now there has come an opportunity to share your reflections on the issues raised in ways that can shape the conversations about both ecclesiology and structure going in to General Conference 2016. The Connectional Table and the Missional Collaboration Group on the Worldwide Nature of the Church have announced a process of seeking feedback on how best to structure the international mission and ministry of the church.
The newly revamped webpage for the Worldwide Nature of the Church group contains a variety of materials to facilitate discussion about important questions related to the global UMC, the most pressing being this: "Where shall delegates from all the annual conferences in the US confer on issues, which are particular to the US?" Related materials include an introductory video, a cover letter further explaining the process, an executive summary providing important background information, a PowerPoint presentation with explanations of current church structure, and a compilation of reports to previous General Conferences with previous recommendations about mission and structure.
These materials identify a series of particular questions for discussion:
* Where shall the UMC in the US
“conference” on US-related matters for greater effectiveness in the mission of the church?
A) as at present on the worldwide level of the General Conference?
B) in establishing a central conference for the US (as other regions in the world)?
C) in establishing a new structure? e.g. a joint meeting of all US jurisdictional conferences or other ideas? Please specify your idea for a new structure
Related to this key questions, please discuss and give feed-back on the following:
* Which of the three options A, B, or C, would you prefer and why (and why not the other options)?
* How would your preference enhance or detract from our disciple-making capacity?
* Please reflect and comment on how you perceive the consequences of your preferred option on:
- the present jurisdictional conferences in the US?
- the present central conferences outside the US?
- the general agencies?
- the annual conferences?
- the local churches?
* What are other matters to consider, linked to your preferred option?
* Should a name change for “central conferences” be considered because of the painful history of the central jurisdiction in the US between 1939-68?
* And if so, would you opt for “regional conferences” instead of “central conferences”? Or would you propose a different name?
The Worldwide Nature of the Church group is soliciting answers to these questions through an online survey. While this survey is especially intended for delegates to General Conference, anyone can submit a survey. I call on you readers of this blog to do exactly that and give your prayerfully considered advice for how to best shape the global ministry of the UMC. The survey deadline is August 31st. This blog exists to be in service to the church, and having these discussions and filling out this survey is precisely a way to do that.