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