The following is from Good News Perspective, a bi-weekly e-mail newsletter put out by Good News magazine, an organization for the Renewal of United Methodism.
NEW COMMITTEE NAMED TO STUDY CHURCH’S WORLDWIDE NATURE — A UM News Service release by Linda Green reports that “Twenty United Methodists from across the globe have been named to a committee to develop recommendations related to the worldwide nature of the United Methodist Church.”
The Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table appointed a joint nominating committee at their respective meetings last November and received nominations from each body for the study committee’s membership. The committee “will study the denomination’s changing worldwide demographics as well as its structural needs and take recommendations to the 2012 General Conference,” wrote Green.
Last May, the 2008 General Conference took the first steps toward reorganizing the 11.5 million-member world-wide United Methodist Church, arguing that it appears to be a U.S. church with satellite locations in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
“Delegates voted to consider recommendations proposed by a study group (of six persons) that submitted 23 petitions to amend the church’s constitution to allow for the creation of a regional conference for the United States,” Green reported. These 23 amendments to the church’s constitution will be voted on at annual conferences this spring.
To read the full UMNS article by Linda Green, go to: LINK
Good News, along with partner renewal groups, has serious questions about this whole endeavor, and we will continue to address them in the weeks and months ahead. For example, will the committee that has been appointed be truly representative of United Methodism in the U.S.? For example, two persons of the 20 (or 10 percent of the committee) are from the South East Jurisdiction, which has 25.6 percent of our national membership. The Northeastern and North Central Jurisdictions each have three members on the committee though those jurisdictions represent only 12.6 percent and 12.4 percent of our membership respectively. The South Central Jurisdiction has only 2 members though it has 15.5 percent of our membership.
What can possibly explain this kind of blatant disproportionate representation?
We stand steadfast in support of fair and representative inclusiveness in regard to race, gender, clergy, and laity. That is why we wonder if the committee is close to being representative. A question we all must ask is whether this committee will produce an end product that would be truly representative of the United Methodist Church—especially grassroots laity who financially and prayerfully support our denomination’s ministry. We fear it will not.
We also would ask whether having the church vote on some 23 constitutional amendments for a sweeping restructure of the denomination would not make more sense coming after the recently-appointed study committee has done its work and has had time to report it to the church. What delegates voted on at General Conference last spring was the work of a study committee of six persons. Six persons!
All of our United Methodist annual conferences will be voting on these amendments this spring. We are concerned about reports that a number of the Central Conferences have not had adequate time to read, study, and understand the proposals before they have to vote on them.
Good News hopes the amendments will not be approved, so that the entire church will have time to reflect carefully about all that is involved in such a major restructure. We are in a day of down-sizing, not a time of adding extra bureaucratic layers to our institutions.
For another thoughtful article about the proposals about the worldwide nature of the UM Church, read Joseph Slife’s “Proposed amendments would separate UMC into ‘national entities.'” It can be found at LINK
Mr. Slife cites a remark made by Dr. Eddie Fox, world director of World Methodist Evangelism, who insists that no structural change is needed to empower non-U.S. Methodists or to recognize the worldwide nature of Methodism. Fox said, “This is not the time for us to be creating national entities…. What is needed now is to walk side by side, not separately.”
Good News • P.O. Box 150 • Wilmore, KY 40390 • 800-487-7784
Belgrade brothers and sisters, what does this have to do with us?
If the UMC is reorganized in this way, it could become very possible for those who support the full inclusion of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transsexual people into the full life of the church including into the clergy to deny the more conservative delegates from other parts of the world, representation at the General Conference. This would make it possible for them to force their agenda upon the vastly-more-conservative people in the pews of the UMC. We need our brothers and sisters from Africa and Asia at General Conference, to continue to be faithful witnesses in support of the Lord and the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and help us keep the UMC from following other mainline churches into the downward spiral of apostasy.