|Palmer says church is in ‘sweet spot’ for change|
By Kathy Gilbert*
May 14, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Life happens during the years between General Conference, and The United Methodist Church needs to learn to be “nimble.”
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops,
presented a five-point call to action to a joint meeting of the
Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and
Administration. The plan was approved last week during the bishops’
Palmer said the current economic crisis has uncovered a need
for bold action that will reorder church structure. The current 1970s
organization is “not sufficient, nimble or responsive to the
fast-changing 21st century,” he said.
The proposal calls for a steering committee of bishops and agency
executives to design a plan for reordering the church. The plan will be
presented to the November 2009 meetings of the Council of Bishops and
the Connectional Table.
says the church is in a “sweet spot” after the 2008 General Conference
clearly defined the church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ
and to concentrate on four areas of focus.
The committee will include two central conference bishops yet
to be named, plus Bishops Larry Goodpaster, Mary Ann Swenson, John
Hopkins, Sharon Zimmerman Rader and Palmer, and agency executives Moses
Kumar, Erin Hawkins, Neil Alexander, the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt and the
Rev. Larry Hollon. The committee may be expanded to include additional
people of color and a bishop elected since 2004.
“This is not a done deal,” Palmer said.
He said the church is in a “sweet spot” after the 2008 General
Conference clearly defined the church’s mission to make disciples of
Jesus Christ and to concentrate on four areas of focus: developing
principled Christian leaders, creating new churches and renewing
existing ones, ministering with the poor and improving global health by
stamping out killer diseases of poverty.
The call to action includes reducing the bishops’ salaries in
2010 to 2008 levels, shortening the bishops’ semi-annual meetings, and
responding to the deficit spending for the 2008 General Conference and
the projected shortfall of more than $3 million for the next General
Other points of the plan commit the Council of Bishops to:
- Take responsibility for telling the stories of the
many positive ways the four areas of focus are being implemented around
- Collect information about how the church is responding to the global economic crisis.
with the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits to
complete the Central Conference Pension Initiative goal of raising $20
- Raise $75 million by 2012 for the Global Health Initiative.
Church officials praised Palmer’s appeal.
“It is about time,” said David Beckley, a Connectional Table
member from the Southeastern Jurisdiction. “The issues of the call are
appropriate for this time of the church. With membership dwindling, it
cannot be business as usual.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Council on Finance and Administration
The Connectional Table
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