Friday, May 22, 2015

Press Release: Connectional Table Shares Vision for Next Quadrennium

The Connectional Table

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2015

Nashville, Tennessee:  Meeting in Nashville, the Connectional Table voted to submit legislation to General Conference in May 2016 to examine how the church may better model worldwide connection through its Connectional Table membership. The proposed restructuring is part of the Connectional Table’s vision as it moves forward.

Currently, only 10 percent of the Connectional Table members reside outside the United States. The proposed restructuring, which may be potentially amended by 2020, would better represent the global membership of the denomination.

 “The Connectional Table is committed to more faithfully modeling our worldwide connection in our membership, ministry, and function,” said Ricky Harrison, Connectional Table member and Master of Divinity student at Duke University. “As we continue to move forward in our work of stewarding the mission, vision, and resources of the global church, we are committed to using the upcoming quadrennium to deeply consider how the structure, membership, and function of the Connectional Table might best facilitate this."

Centered on mission and values, the church body stated goals to build relationships that strengthen the denomination as part of the Body of Christ, cross bridges across the church, connect strategies for great impact on mission and connect the story to inspire transformation in Christ throughout the world.

The Connectional Table remains steadfast in its purpose to be a geographically representative and intergenerational body exemplifying the diversity of the worldwide connection, while guiding with a unique Wesleyan theology and enabling new things by fostering creativity and enhancing ministry at all levels of the church.

The church body also stated that it would work to build trust in three primary relationships:
  • Relationship to General Conference through partnership with Commission on General Conference
  • Relationship to Annual Conferences through partnerships with the Active Bishops and Directors of Connectional Ministries; and
  • Relationship to General Agencies.

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About the Connectional Table
The Connectional Table oversees the coordination of mission, ministries and resources across the denomination. Created at the 2004 General Conference, the Connectional Table was formed to serve as both the visioning body of the church and the steward of resources to carry out the vision of the denomination worldwide.

Contact: Diane Degnan
ddegnan@umcom.org
615-742-5406 (office)
615-483-1765 (cell)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Press Release: Council of Bishops affirms missional direction for next quadrennium

United Methodist Council of Bishops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2015

Berlin: The Council of Bishops, meeting in Berlin, affirmed a vision for a missional direction for the next quadrennium which includes partnering with schools to help end poverty, starting new faith communities, building a culture of call, reaching children with life-saving interventions, and equipping congregations with disciple-making processes to continue making new disciples and increasing the number of vital congregations.

“Your leadership has led to great success and has changed the denomination in a positive way. We can measure the success, in part, through the growing number of vital congregations we see across the church,” said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, chairperson of the Connectional Table.

The new strategic direction would build on and extend the Four Areas of Focus adopted in 2008 and continue the focus on creating vital congregations, but is flexible enough to allow local churches and annual conferences to adapt it according to what works best in their areas. Goals would be developed by General Conference 2016 that would include measures to aid in tracking progress.

“Developing a strategy within the Four Areas of Focus and Vital Congregations will help measure, organize, and connect the agencies and the annual conferences towards a greater impact in each area of focus so that we can tell the story of our connection … we have nearly a decade worth of success stories that show what United Methodists working together combined with great leadership can achieve,” said Bishop Sally Dyck, chair of the Missional Collaboration Group on Vital Congregations and the Four Areas of Focus. 

“Recommitting to the strategic direction of the Four Areas of Focus and Vital Congregations in the next quadrennium will build on the important and fruitful ministry we have started," said Bishop John Schol, team leader for the Vital Congregations Operations Team along with Discipleship Ministries. “Embracing strategic direction and goals will align us for missional impact around the world.”

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About the Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 12.8 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

Media contact:
Diane Degnan ddegnan@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (w) 615.483.1765 (c)

Monday, May 4, 2015

United Methodist Council of Bishops Press Release

United Methodist Council of Bishops
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2015

BERLIN: Meeting in Berlin today, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church elected new officers who will assume their leadership roles in 2016.

The new officers of the Council are:

President – Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area
President designate – Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr., Florida Episcopal Area
Secretary - Bishop Cynthia Harvey, Louisiana Episcopal Area (re-elected for two years)
Connectional Table chairperson - Bishop Christian Alsted, Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area
Executive secretary – Bishop Marcus Matthews, Washington Episcopal Area
Ecumenical officer – Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia Episcopal area

The ecumenical officer, executive secretary and chair of the Connectional Table each serve four-year terms. The president, president-designate and secretary serve two-year terms, which begin on the third day of the General Conference. 

In accordance with the Council’s bylaws, an eight-member Leadership Discernment Committee of the Council (which is composed of one bishop from each U.S. jurisdiction and three Central Conference bishops) selected a slate of officers to present to the Council for election by a two-thirds majority. Nominations for secretary and ecumenical officer may also be presented from the floor.

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About the Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 12.8 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.


Media contact:
Diane Degnan ddegnan@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (w)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

CT Weekly Update: "God-Sized" Vision and Prayers

Dear CT Members and Friends,

Greetings in God’s Love!  As we go deeper into our Lenten Journey, we are reminded to stop and reflect on how God has been at work in our lives in so many ways across the connection.  Recently I received a report from GCFA Statistics office and it caused me to stop again and give thanks for all the ways in which the people of The United Methodist Church are incredibly gracious and generous.  Since 2009 the benevolent giving across the Annual Conferences that GCFA collects data for has been over $900,000,000 and increased over the last five years.  In the most recent 2013 data, the reported total amount of benevolent giving (which includes apportioned funds for districts, annual conferences and the General Church, along with World Service specials, Advance Specials, Youth Service Fund, Other UM causes, other non-UM charities, and our Special Sundays) was a total of $934,654,715.00.  I think about the abundance of generosity that this represents of the people called United Methodist.  I know that this data alone is limited and doesn’t fully represent the generosity of United Methodists in other places around the world.  If we were to add in the contributions of the Central Conferences to mission and ministry within each region of the world, we would be well over a billion dollars of giving towards "changing the world for the sake of Jesus Christ."

I recognize that money is only one small representation of God's gracious gifts that we share as a connectional system, but if we could recount the story after story of transformed life after transformed life of people who have come to know Jesus because of faithful United Methodist Christians, the stories would be endless.  When I look at our unique ecclesiology and the gift of our incredible connection, I see a beautiful masterpiece of God.  The impact we can make when we focus on the mission and appreciate each God-given gift through our brothers and sisters in Christ from all the magnificent places around the world would be unbelievable.  It's this God-sized VISION that Bishop Ough invited us to dream about at the beginning of the quadrennium.  Our God is a gracious, generous, loving God who wants to see God’s people flourish because of our relationship with our Creator.

It will be impossible for us to connect the connection, if we do not first give thanks to the one who created us all.  For all the challenges and the frustrations that people may have about our connectional ecclesiology, we need to remember our Creator.  We need to remember that there is a God-sized vision out there that the people called United Methodist need to see.  We need to give thanks for every penny, every cent, every minute, every hour faithful United Methodist people have shared because they believe in the God-Sized Vision that may transform the world.

My prayer is that this lenten season, we focus on the "God-Sized" Visions that are out there and step boldly into the great unknown with our God and Savior, Jesus the risen Christ!  Because he lives – we CAN connect the connection for the sake of the mission.

LET US PRAY FOR:
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Board Meeting (March 11-14): President, Bishop Jim Dorff and General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Kim Cape.  
General Board of Discipleship Board Meeting (March 12-15): President, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky and General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Tim Bias.
General Commission on Status and Role of Women Board Meeting (March 11-13): President, Bishop Deborah  Wallace-Padgett and General Secretary, Dawn Wiggins Hare.
Executive Committee of the Central Conference (March 12-15): Bishop Patrick Streiff
3rd National Hispanic Consultation on UM Hispanic Latino Ministries (March 12-14)

May God’s Gracious Love Surround Us All!!

With God’s Love,

Rev. Amy Valdez Barker,
Executive Secretary

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Press Release:

The Connectional Table Joins Standing Committee at Historic First Joint Meeting in Mozambique


Maputo, Mozambique – Monday, February 9 marked the first joint meeting of the Connectional Table and the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters in Maputo, Mozambique. The two bodies met to share strategies toward strengthening the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

“The Standing Committee and the Connectional Table met together to learn about the ways we are both working for a stronger worldwide connection of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, chair of the CT. “As The UMC grows around the world, we are blessed with the need to engage in fostering and nurturing relationships and deepening conversations such as the ones we had at this meeting.”

Their first day together was spent in worship and cultural celebrations with the people of The UMC in Mozambique.  Bishop Joaquina Nhanala’s team hosted the groups in congregations throughout Maputo.  The afternoon culmination was a celebration of the multiple cultures of Mozambique.

The Connectional Table has prioritized improving collaborative efforts with other church entities and building bridges across the connection.  This joint meeting focused on ways in which both groups are responding to the 2012 Report to General Conference submitted by the 2009-2012 Worldwide Nature Study Committee.  The Connectional Table was tasked with connecting efforts of several recommendations related to the church’s worldwide nature including revising the social principles to be more relevant globally, creating global apportionments, and organizing for serving the mission around the world.  The Standing Committee was charged by General Conference to “bring recommendations to the 2016 General Conference as to which parts and paragraphs in Part VI of the Book of Discipline are not adaptable.”

“Experiencing a microcosm of General Conference in a celebratory, worship-centered way was such a gift!” said Amy Valdez Barker, executive secretary of the Connectional Table.  About half of the members present were from central conferences with the other half from the United States.

Highlights of the meeting included: learning about the Standing Committee’s work on the Global (General) Book of Discipline; a progress report on global apportionments by Rick King of General Council on Finance and Administration; and updates from leaders of the Vital Congregations Collaboration Group of the CT and COB.  CT and StC-CCM Members gained a deeper understanding of what it means to focus on the United Methodist mission in different cultures around the world.

“I can really appreciate the challenges our central conference members experience traveling to the U.S. on such a regular basis,” commented Josephine Deere, a CT Member from Oklahoma talking about the distance required to travel to the joint meeting.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Press Release:

The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force hosts its third panel on human sexuality and its Human Sexuality Legislative Team presents possible approaches for General Conference 2016



      On February 10, 2015 in Maputo, Mozambique, The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force hosted its third and final panel on human sexuality which emphasized the denomination’s central conference perspective. Ricky Harrison, Connectional Table member  and Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School, moderated the panel. Panelists included Rev. Nday Bondo of Africa University and elder in the North Katanga Annual Conference, Rev. Israel Alvaran of Reconciling Ministries Network and elder in the Philippines Annual Conference, and Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area of the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference. Panelists introduced themselves by answering two questions. The first addressed the relationship between sexual orientation and one’s membership, baptism, and full involvement in the life of The United Methodist Church. The second question inquired about the potential outcomes of a change within The Book of Discipline on the current stance regarding homosexuality. Panelists responded to these questions and others from the Human Sexuality Task Force, members of The Connectional Table, and from the DreamUMC Twitter conversation held on January 26, 2015. The panel was recorded by United Methodist Communications and will be available online starting February 13, 2015 at http://umc.org/connectional-­‐table-­‐webcast.
      Immediately following the panel, members of The Connectional Table gathered and discussed possible approaches to respond to their April 2014 motion concerning human sexuality. The Human Sexuality Legislative Team asked the Connectional Table for direction in accordance to this mandate.
      Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, district superintendent of the West Michigan Annual Conference and Connectional Table member, presented a report to The Connectional Table on the process taken by the Team. The report emphasized three theological assertions that directed their work. They were the centrality of mission, unity for the sake of mission, and baptism as the basis for our identity as Christians and as United Methodists.
      After the presentation, Connectional Table members spent the afternoon in discernment and conversation as they prayerfully considered the response to the motion. The Connectional

Table read each approach and discerned in small groups. Responses from individual members and from the small groups were gathered at the conclusion of the session and will be used to direct the continued work of the General Conference – Missional Administration Group.
      Though the CT did not take a formal vote at this meeting, the group did affirm the consideration of a particular approach that could provide a “Third Way” beyond The United Methodist Church’s impasse over homosexuality.
       “This approach maintains the unity of the church, focuses the church on its mission, and provides spaces of grace in which there could be the exercise of conscience,” stated Kennetha Bigham-Tsai. “The group also affirmed that this approach would best allow for the contextual practice of ministry.” The CT will continue it’s discernment and decision-making process at it’s May meeting. Following this meeting their final recommendation will be released.

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Contact:
Any questions or comments on this panel or the two previous panels should be sent to:
Ashley Boggan, aboggan@umc.org, 773-714-1517

Note:  For more information on the two previous panels or to watch the archived videos of the panels, click here:
April 29, 2014: umc.org/who-we-are/connectional-table-online-christian-conferencing-on-human-sexuality
November 1, 2014: umc.org/who-we-are/connectional-table-webcast-finding-our-way-love-law-united-methodist-church

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Human Sexuality Task Force Hosts its Third Panel

Connectional Table
The United Methodist Church

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2015

Human Sexuality Task Force Hosts its Third Panel
The Central Conference Voice on Human Sexuality and Our Wesleyan Identity

Chicago, Ill: The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force will be hosting its third and final panel on human sexuality Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 10:00 am CAT in Maputo, Mozambique. This panel will highlight the central conference perspective on our Wesleyan identity, the life of the church, and human sexuality.

While this panel will not be live-streamed, there is an opportunity for those who wish to participate to pose questions to the panel beforehand via Twitter. On January 26, 2015 at 9:00 pm EST, DreamUMC will host a Twitter chat where participants will get a glimpse of the types of questions and topics for the panel, an opportunity to answer or comment on those questions and topics, and an opportunity to pose questions of their own, which will be presented to the panel. Any submitted questions will be asked of the panel during the last 20 minutes on February 10.

“We want to thank DreamUMC for helping us to provide this opportunity to reach out to our UMC connection via Twitter,” said the Rev. Amy Valdez Barker, executive secretary of the Connectional Table.

DreamUMC is a grassroots movement that arose out of General Conference 2012. They conduct biweekly chats about the mission and vision of The United Methodist Church including such topics as the role of social media in church life, racism, sexism, community engagement, domestic violence, women in ministry and more. Over 400 United Methodist clergy and laity have been involved in those chats.

To participate in the chat, you will need a Twitter account. If you log in to your account on January 26 at 9:00 pm EST and enter the hashtag #DreamUMC in the search box, you will be able to see other posts related to the conversation. To join the conversation, simply tag your tweet with #DreamUMC. More detailed step-by-step instructions are available at dreamumc.net/2012/08/how-to-join-the-dreamumc-tweetchats.html.

The panelists for the third panel are academics and ministers in the central conferences and will bring a fresh insight to this ongoing discussion. Panelists include:


  • Nday Bondo: Rev. Bondo is a lecturer at Africa University (Mutare, Zimbabwe) in the Faculty of Theology and an elder of the North Katanga annual conference of the UMC in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His research area is Practical Theology in which he studies United Methodist Church Polity and Doctrine as well as Church Administration. He also teaches a course in Ethics and Christian Values, a University wide-course.
  • Kongolo Chijika: Married and the father of five children, Dr. Chijika completed his Ph.D. at Laval University in Quebec City in Canada. He is currently a Dean of Theology, a faculty member, and Professor of Old Testament at Katanga Methodist University in Mulungwishi, Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  • Israel Alvaran: Rev. Israel I. Alvaran is an ordained elder in the Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has served in various ministry settings as pastor, youth minister, and faculty at a United Methodist university and seminary in the Philippines. Rev. Alvaran is currently appointed to serve as Western Regional Organizer for Reconciling Ministries Network, a growing movement of United Methodists working for the full participation of all people in the life and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
  • Bishop Christian Alsted: Bishop Alsted has been a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1984; 20 years were spent serving in Copenhagen. He assumed office in May 2009 and serves the seven conferences in the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area of the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference. He also serves on the board of directors of the General Board of Church and Society, the Commission on the General Conference, and on the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. He is a member of the European Methodist Council, the World Methodist Council, and the Funds for Mission in Europe. 

The panel will be available for online streaming beginning February 15, 2015 by going to umc.org/connectional-table-webcast.

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Contact:
Any questions or comments on this panel or the two previous panels should be sent to:
Ashley Boggan, aboggan@umc.org, 773-714-1517

Note:  For more information on the two previous panels or to watch the archived videos of the panels, click here:
April 29, 2014: umc.org/who-we-are/connectional-table-online-christian-conferencing-on-human-sexuality
November 1, 2014: umc.org/who-we-are/connectional-table-webcast-finding-our-way-love-law-united-methodist-church