|Church agency examines forms of ministry for lay, clergy|
The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino
Oct. 18, 2005
By Ciona D. Rouse*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
— The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is
planning a series of churchwide discussions on the types of pastoral
ministry offered in the denomination.
The conversations will
be held in regional focus groups and are intended to help clarify the
forms of ministry for lay, licensed and ordained ministry — including
the episcopacy — in the United Methodist Church.
During its Oct. 13-16 meeting, the board invited its directors to be active participants in the discussions.
Directors of the
board’s Division of Ordained Ministry participated in a shortened
version of the dialogues Oct. 14. In small groups, they discussed the
church’s identity and how the ordering of ministry reflects its mission
Topics in the small
groups included what it means to make disciples, the distinctiveness of
the different orders of ministry, how the orders work together and
points of clarity that are needed concerning the itinerant system of
“People were really,
really drawn into that discussion,” said Bishop Gregory Palmer, board
president and leader of the denomination’s Iowa Area. “It was an
inspiring discussion. If what we’ve done here spreads out throughout the
church, this will contribute to the church having important affirmation
and clarification in regards to its ministry.”
At its 2004 General
Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body resolved that the
Board of Higher Education and Ministry consult with the Council of
Bishops and the Board of Discipleship to form a commission to study the
“ordering of ministry for the mission of making disciples of Jesus
Christ.” The focus groups convening across the United Methodist Church
are part of the commission’s strategy to explore the basis for the
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
In addition to study groups, the commission launched an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=586421395595
to broaden the scope of the conversation. Findings from the
conversations and survey will be included in a report to the 2008
General Conference and possibly lead to the creation of new legislation.
The conversations will
occur during the next six to nine months, according to the Rev. Robert
Kohler, assistant general secretary of the Division of Ordained
Ministry. Conversations are scheduled in Virginia and Germany.
“We want as much information as we can generate for this study,” Kohler said.
“The study’s important
for the church in order for the denomination to clarify its
understanding of our present order of ministry, our present ordination
and how our ordering and ordination support the mission and ministry of
the United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Mary Ann Moman, associate
general secretary of the board’s Division of Ordained Ministry.
The Board of Higher
Education and Ministry is the United Methodist agency responsible for
the recruitment, theological training and education of church leaders.
In addition to the study, the board of directors participated in ongoing strategic planning for the agency.
|A UMNS photo by Vicki Brown
The board's Ken Yamada dances with retired staff member Frankie Graham at a banquet honoring Yamada Oct. 15.
In an Oct. 13 address
to directors, the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, top staff executive of the
agency, presented a vision for the board to lead the denomination in
conversation about stewardship.
“As the agency mandated
to serve as ‘advocate for the intellectual life of the church,’ I
submit that the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has a
seminal role to play in provoking and nurturing this conversation,” Del
stewardship, he said, United Methodists must not live in the “economy of
the market society, which is an economy of debt and scarcity” but
should live out of “God’s economy, (which is) one of abundance grounded
in the extravagance of divine grace.”
“It is within this
larger context of communal life, grounded in the extravagance of God’s
gift of love, that our responsibility to share of the abundance of our
material and financial resources must be understood and practiced,” Del
During their strategic
planning, the directors participated in a process initially involving 10
potential strategic issues the board should address. At the top of
their list, they want to lead the church in attracting, enlisting and
educating more young people for Christian vocation. Additionally, the
group stressed the importance of working closely with local churches in
strategic plan will give extra sharp focus to the board’s mission and
ministry and help to encourage synergy around all that were involved in
its shaping,” Palmer said.
In other action:
- The Division of Higher
Education approved the Rev. Ken Bedell, pastor of Archbold (Ohio)
United Methodist Church, as the new associate general secretary for the
Division of Higher Education. Bedell will begin Feb. 1. Wanda Bigham,
the assistant general secretary of schools, colleges and universities
for the Division of Higher Education, serves as associate general
secretary in the interim.
- The Board of Higher
Education and Ministry held a banquet Oct. 15 honoring Ken Yamada, who
finished his tenure as associate general secretary Oct. 7 and is now
special assistant to Del Pino for global education and new initiatives.
- The Loans and
Scholarships Committee created an endowed Special Seminary Scholarship
to fund 50 seminarians up to $2,000 beginning next year. To be eligible,
a student must be working on a master of divinity degree, pursuing
ordained ministry as a vocation, be age 30 or younger upon applying and
have a grade point average of 2.85. The committee also reported that it
had awarded more than $31 million in scholarships and loans to more than
21,206 students in the last four years. The committee met with 13
scholarship recipients in the Nashville area following its business
- The United Methodist Endorsing Agency endorsing committee approved 28 applicants for specialized ministries.
- The Rev. Wilfried
Nausner of Graz, Austria, replaced Bishop Patrick Streiff as the
central conference board member from the church’s Central and Southern
Europe Area. Streiff resigned at the board meeting as a result of his
election to the episcopacy last April.
*Rouse is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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