From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Daily Wrap-up: Delegates hear restructuring report, Laity Address

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 29 Apr 2004 11:53:23 -0500

April 28, 2004	GC04-014

By Linda Bloom*

PITTSBURGH (UMNS) - How United Methodists relate to one another, both
structurally and spiritually, was a topic of discussion during the April 28
session of the denomination's top legislative body.

Delegates to General Conference received a report from the churchwide Council
on Ministries called "Living into the Future," which proposes merging the
work of program and finance agencies into a "Connectional Table." In that
structure, leaders from around the church would coordinate the work of most
of the denomination's agencies and would oversee ministries budgeted at more
than $500 million per quadrennium.

United Methodists in all regions of the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe
and North America, would be represented at the table, along with the Council
of Bishops and agency officials.

Under the proposed plan, the General Council on Ministries and General
Council on Finance and Administration would fold into the Connectional Table
by Jan. 1, 2007. Ten other agencies would retain their own board of directors
but be accountable and represented at the table.

"The plan is about bringing mission and money to the same table," said
Darlene Amon, a delegate from the Virginia Annual Conference and one of the
voices in the video describing the benefits of "Living into the Future."

Bishop Joseph Yeakel described the proposal in terms of "connecting the
connection." A rejection of the plan by General Conference would amount to
the church choosing to "retain a disconnected structure," he said.

Delegates will vote on the document during the week of May 3.

In the General Conference Laity Address, Gloria Holt told delegates that
until each individual church member is willing to let go of "me, myself and
I" and make a concerted effort to become "we, ourselves and us," the
denomination will continue to be involved in "power struggles, selfish
decision-making and un-Christian action toward each other."

Most troubling is the "apparent unwillingness" of laity and clergy to be
equal partners in ministry, according to Holt, president of the United
Methodist Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders.

"If clergy are singing their own song while the laity are dancing to their
own beat, how in the world are we going to get in sync with one another?" she
asked. "Unless we do, the church will not be creating the music for which God
gave us the notes."

She also urged the international assembly to move away from doing things in
the same old way and to realize that the absence of youth and young adults in
local congregations could be due to an unwillingness to change in ways that
would welcome that age group.

In the morning worship service, Bishop Bruce Blake of Oklahoma noted the
legislative concerns over budget issues. 

"Our attitude is one of giving until it hurts, rather than heals. Everything
is focused on our limited resources when, in fact, if United Methodists would
give until it heals we would have so much money to facilitate God's mission
in the world that conferencing would be a celebration of sharing rather than
our experience of divvying up a shrinking pie."

He suggested that United Methodists have lost the connection between grace
and giving, and he challenged the delegates to live a gospel of giving until
it heals.

# # #

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.
After May 10: (615) 742-5470. 


United Methodist News Service
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