UMC Considers Restructuring to Boost Church Growth

The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church is meeting about the implementation of “The Call to Action,” a multiyear process aimed at revitalizing congregations and reversing decades of declining membership.

In a sermon delivered Monday morning to over 100 active and retired Methodist bishops, Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, president of the Council of Bishops, stressed the need for CTA.

“The Call to Action has been generating lively debate and discussion at every level of our denomination. The recommendations from the Interim Operations Team and many of the subsequent conversations and debates have centered on the institutional organization,” said Goodpaster.

“We know that to increase the number of vital congregations fully living out the mission that has been given to the church will take an intensive and long-range commitment on the part of the whole church.”

In his message, Goodpaster talked about how although proposed changes may contain some uncertainty the UMC “cannot maintain the status quo.”

A major change proposed would involve consolidating nine of the UMC’s 13 general agencies into a new entity called the United Methodist Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry.

This new agency would replace the Connectional Table, the church organization that currently deals with coordinating mission work and resources, sometime after the 2012 General Conference.

Bishop John Hopkins, chair of the Connectional Table, told The Christian Post that this restructuring will help congregations more effectively to carry out mission and ministry work.

“We know that what leaders give attention to and invest resources to accomplish will make a difference for every church and for The United Methodist Church as a whole,” said Hopkins.

“The CTA initiatives are intended to enhance our focus, which we believe will, by the grace of God, result in more vital witness to the Gospel and make a graceful difference in the world.”

Other proposed changes include emphasizing more youth and young adult participation and reassessing the system for appointing clergy.

The Council is presently meeting to discuss these proposed changes in Lake Junaluska, N.C., and is expected to conclude their sessions by Friday, Nov. 4.

The General Conference, which is the chief lawmaking body for the UMC, meets every four years. Their upcoming meeting will take place next spring at Tampa, Fla.

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