UMC Connectional Table Holds First Meeting

Sixty members of the newly established United Methodist “Connectional Table” met in San Diego, Ca., for their first meeting, Jan. 20-23, 2005.

According to reports by the United Methodist News Service, the denominational leaders at the meeting were encouraged to reconsider the method of electing bishops.

"We’ve become an increasingly regional church, (and) we would be healthier as a church if we elected bishops on a national basis," said the Rev. Russell Richey, dean of United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, to the leaders.

Richey, who suggested electing bishops at a national instead of regional basis could be good for the 8-million member United Methodist Church (UMC), also reminded the leaders that such national elections were the norm before the 1939 merger of the three pre-UMC Methodist churches.

Richey’s suggestions came during a Q-and-A period after he traced the history of seven ways in which Methodists have organized for ministry, according to the UMNS.

The Connectional Table was created last year during the UMC’s 2004 General Conference – the highest legislative body of the church, which meets once every four years.

“It’s a new entity whose purpose is not to provide policy direction, but to focus on coordination among the general agencies of the church,” explained Stephen E. Drachler, a spokesperson for the UMC, on Tuesday.

“It streamlines what the church does and provides for more efficient contact between the general agencies of the church the local congregations, to give those congregations a clearer voice in the work of the general church,” he explained.

For more information on the Connectional Table, visit the UMC online at: www.umc.org