Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Talking about a global denomination

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.

This blog has been dedicated to fostering conversations about the global nature of the UMC, but fortunately, we're not the only show in town doing that.  Various other groups within The United Methodist Church also recognize the pressing importance of issues related to how we structure our common life as a global denomination.  I've reported in the past about the Worldwide Nature of the Church's survey (now closed) which seeks input where to locate decision-making for American issues within a global denomination.  I'd like to highlight two other forms these conversations are taking and how you can be involved.

The first of these is a series of consultations that are happening to help develop a set of global Social Principles for the denomination.  This previous post describes the genesis of the idea of developing a less US-centric and more globally applicable set of Social Principles for the denomination.  That process is being facilitated by seven consultations about the Social Principles in various locations around the denomination: one in the Philippines, three in Africa, one in Europe, and two in the United States.  Each consultation will include about 20 United Methodists meeting for 2-3 days to address three questions:
1. What role do the current Social Principles play in enhancing the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church?
2. How much or how well have the current Social Principles served to empower mission and ministry in your geographical area?
3. What might globally relevant Social Principles look like?

The exciting part about this process is that there's a chance for you to be involved.  The consultation in the Philippines has already happened, and applications for the consultations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique are already closed.  Nevertheless, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) is still taking applications for consultations in Nigeria, the Czech Republic, and the US.  The deadline for the Nigeria consultation is soon - Sept. 15.  The deadline for the Czech Republic is Oct. 15, and the deadline for both US consultations is Dec. 15.

The other conversation about the global structure of the church was a panel discussion during the recent meeting of the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM).  The panel discussed what a global Book of Discipline would mean for ordained ministry, the concern being that some of the current requirements for ordained ministry presume an American context.  Video of the discussion is on YouTube, and the first eight minutes provides an excellent overview of the denomination's plans for a global Book of Discipline.  While it's obviously too late to participate in this conversation, the entire thing is well worth a watch and then a conversation with other United Methodists.

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