From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
UMNS# 04419-Team helps church transition to new Connectional
Thu, 16 Sep 2004 16:45:36 -0500
Team helps church transition to new Connectional Table
Sep. 16, 2004 News media contact: Tim Tanton * (615) 7425470*
NOTE: A photo and other related resources are available online at
A UMNS Report
By Steve Smith*
The United Methodist bishop who heads a panel planning a new "Connectional
Table" to oversee the denomination's mission and ministries said she believes
members will set aside individual differences and work together to accomplish
common goals for the church.
At their first meeting in January, Connectional Table members will build
community as they envision their role in shaping the denomination's future,
said Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher of Springfield, Ill., chairwoman of the
table's transition team. The first meeting will be in a retreat setting, as
the Connectional Table begins coordinating mission, ministry and available
In the first major reorganization in the denomination's 36-year history,
delegates to the General Conference in May approved creating the Connectional
Table to enlarge the circle of United Methodists responsible for visioning
and executing mission and ministry for the whole church.
The Connectional Table will include 47 members elected from U.S.
jurisdictional and overseas conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe; clergy
and lay representatives; a bishop selected by the Council of Bishops; general
agency top executives and most presidents; one youth and one young adult from
the Board of Discipleship's Division on Ministries with Young People; and
members from the denomination's racial and ethnic caucuses.
Christopher's team must develop and implement a plan to crank up the
Connectional Table, provide training and orientation for members, and
reassign functions and responsibilities from the General Council on
Ministries, the denomination's planning agency that will dissolve Dec. 31.
"As the transition team understands the intention of the General Conference,
the Connectional Table is to be 'something new,'" said Christopher, after a
transition team meeting recently in Chicago. "For that to happen, the team
believes time must be spent apart initially building community among the
Connectional Table's members. This building of community will begin as each
member authentically surrenders personal, regional or constituency-based
agendas and enters into covenant with all other members.
"The objective is to help form the body in a community as it catches a
glimpse of the hope and possibilities the Connectional Table holds for the
church and the church's ministries in the world."
The Connectional Table will convene Jan. 13-16 or Jan. 20-23, depending on
availability of the members, said Irene Howard, the denomination's general
counsel who is staffing the team meetings.
In April, the transition team assigned to the United Methodist Board of
Discipleship the responsibility for leading a training session for
jurisdictional conference leaders Jan. 27-30 at Houston's Hilton of the
Americas. The team also assigned to the Council of Bishops - with staffing
responsibilities to the discipleship board and the Board of Higher Education
and Ministry - the job of providing training next summer for new district
superintendents and directors of connectional ministries, Howard said.
Also in August, the transition team approved a six-month severance plan for
the GCOM's 13 employees, supplemental severance for years of service and
fixed termination dates for employees based on pending assignments. By Oct.
31, eight of the 13 employees are expected to leave GCOM under the plan. Dan
Church, the agency's top staff executive, and four employees will remain
until Dec. 31.
In addition, the team renewed short-term leases for 10 non-profit tenants
leasing space in GCOM's building at 601 W. Riverview Ave. in Dayton, Ohio.
Ultimately, the team will recommend to the denomination's trustees what to do
with the building.
Team members will meet again Nov. 6-7 in Jacksonville, Fla., to continue
their work related to winding up GCOM and transferring its functions to the
In addition to Christopher, the transition team includes Bishop John L.
Hopkins of Ohio; LeVeeda Morgan Battle, North Alabama Annual (regional)
Conference; Mary Hayenga, Dakotas Conference; the Rev. Marilynn M.
Huntington, California-Pacific Conference; the Rev. Patrick Streiff,
Switzerland-France Conference; Gerald "Jay" Williams, Western New York
Conference; and the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, a retired pastor in the
Baltimore-Washington Conference and now interim president of United
Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Two new members to the panel include the Rev. W. Timothy McClendon of South
Carolina and Ann A. Saunkeah of Oklahoma. Transition team members decided to
expand the panel to 10 so the group would be more geographically and
ethnically inclusive, Howard said. McClendon and Saunkeah have Native
*Smith is a freelance writer in Dallas.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5473 or
United Methodist News Service
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