|Proposals call for new collaboration among church agencies|
Members of the Commission on Communication listen to the summary of “provocative propositions.” A UMNS photo by Linda Green.
By Linda Green*
Jan. 17, 2007 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
The top executives of The United Methodist Church’s agencies are
collaborating in new ways to lead the church toward more shared mission
The leaders of the church’s boards, agencies and commissions are
drafting and perfecting four “provocative propositions” to enable the
denomination to face the challenges of global ministry.
The collaboration between the agencies is not new, but “new
challenges call for new ways of doing ministry collaboratively,”
according to the executive summary outlining the proposals.
The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist
Communications, presented these proposals to members of the Commission
on Communications and agency staff during the opening plenary of a Jan.
4-11 board meeting in Zimbabwe. The meeting was the commission’s first
outside the continental United States.
“The consensus among the general secretaries (of the agencies) is
that change must occur in the connectional system if we are to thrive,”
The proposals, which will go before the Connectional Table as
programmatic directions, emerged from a variety of conversations among
church leaders and identify four goals for the church’s work in the
- Enable clergy and laity to develop the skills necessary for ministry
in the 21st century through leadership, education and development, with
a focus on the United States.
- Extend the outreach of the church’s ministry and grow the church by energetically starting new congregations.
- Partner with the poor to seek justice and address the causes of human suffering that result from poverty.
- Bring healing, health and wholeness through a concerted effort to
end preventable diseases of poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and
Commission members Arnie Rhodes (from left), Al Horton and Paul Black
take a break during the meeting. A UMNS photo by Bill Norton.
Hollon told the commissioners that the first emphasis would lay a
foundation for developing quality leaders and addressing the concern of
recruiting young people for clergy vocations and leadership in the
denomination. United Methodists under the age of 18 represent 4.6
percent of church membership, and the number of clergy under age 35 is
850 out of some 30,000 active clergy.
All of the churchwide program agencies and commissions will be asked
to build a system of leadership development that includes the United
Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry working with United
Methodist schools to form clergy and lay leadership for the 21st
The second proposition, Hollon said, calls for a strategy across the
denomination to create churches “in a more aggressive and systematic
way” than ever before. The proposal calls for the planting of 350 new
churches in the United States, up from an estimated 75 per year
currently. A goal is for 80 percent of the planted churches to average
250 in worship within five years of their launch, generating an
estimated 87,500 new members into a United Methodist community of faith.
Addressing the third proposal, Hollon said: “Poverty knows no boundaries.”
“This is a global issue that will share the mission of the whole
church,” he said. “It particularly discusses the effects of poverty on
children and calls on The United Methodist Church to care for children.”
Six “contextual, holistic projects” for ministry with the poor will
be developed during the 2009-2012 quadrennium — in East Africa, the
Philippines, Eastern Europe, Honduras, a U.S. annual conference with a
large vulnerable urban population, and an annual conference in
Appalachia. Resources will be multilingual as well as multimedia, with
an emphasis on advocating for public policies that empower the
impoverished and address conditions that compromise human dignity and
the quality of life.
The fourth proposal envisions a global health initiative that will
engage the whole church in a sustained effort to prevent and treat the
diseases of poverty, with particular emphasis on saving 3 million lives
by eradicating malaria and addressing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis through
community-based primary health care.
The church has begun to address malaria eradication through the
Nothing the But Nets campaign, a partnership with the United Nations
Foundation, the Millennium Promise, the Measles Initiative, Sports Illustrated, the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares foundation and others.
The agency’s role
The Rev. Larry Hollon presents the propositions to the commission members. A UMNS photo by Ginny Underwood.
Hollon told the governing members that United Methodist Communication
would help with the four propositions by assisting in increasing
attendance, giving and participation. The agency also will address
health issues confronting the denomination.
Borrowing the title of a best-selling book by Gary Gunderson and
Larry Pray, Hollon said the church needs to examine the “leading causes
of life” and not search for the causes of death.
“The storyline of mainline denomination decline is not the only
storyline of the church,” Hollon said. “That storyline is a prescription
for death. Rather, I’m interested in the causes of life and building a
system that is both life-giving and life-sustaining,” he said.
“I invite our own members and those who are searching for a faith
community to join us in the search for the leading causes of life.”
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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