Team helps church transition to new Connectional Table
Sept. 16, 2004
A UMNS Report
By Steve Smith*
The United Methodist
bishop who heads a panel planning a new "Connectional Table" to oversee
the denomination’s mission and ministries said she believes members will
set aside individual differences and work together to accomplish common
goals for the church.
Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher
their first meeting in January, Connectional Table members will build
community as they envision their role in shaping the denomination’s
future, said Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher of Springfield, Ill.,
chairwoman of the table’s transition team. The first meeting will be in a
retreat setting, as the Connectional Table begins coordinating mission,
ministry and available money.
the first major reorganization in the denomination’s 36-year history,
delegates to the General Conference in May approved creating the
Connectional Table to enlarge the circle of United Methodists
responsible for visioning and executing mission and ministry for the
Connectional Table will include 47 members elected from U.S.
jurisdictional and overseas conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe;
clergy and lay representatives; a bishop selected by the Council of
Bishops; general agency top executives and most presidents; one youth
and one young adult from the Board of Discipleship’s Division on
Ministries with Young People; and members from the denomination’s racial
and ethnic caucuses.
team must develop and implement a plan to crank up the Connectional
Table, provide training and orientation for members, and reassign
functions and responsibilities from the General Council on Ministries,
the denomination’s planning agency that will dissolve Dec. 31.
the transition team understands the intention of the General
Conference, the Connectional Table is to be ‘something new,’" said
Christopher, after a transition team meeting recently in Chicago. "For
that to happen, the team believes time must be spent apart initially
building community among the Connectional Table’s members. This building
of community will begin as each member authentically surrenders
personal, regional or constituency-based agendas and enters into
covenant with all other members.
objective is to help form the body in a community as it catches a
glimpse of the hope and possibilities the Connectional Table holds for
the church and the church’s ministries in the world."
Table will convene Jan. 13-16 or Jan. 20-23, depending on availability
of the members, said Irene Howard, the denomination’s general counsel
who is staffing the team meetings.
August, the transition team assigned to the United Methodist Board of
Discipleship the responsibility for leading a training session for
jurisdictional conference leaders Jan. 27-30 at Houston’s Hilton of the
Americas. The team also assigned to the Council of Bishops - with
staffing responsibilities to the discipleship board and the Board of
Higher Education and Ministry - the job of providing training next
summer for new district superintendents and directors of connectional
ministries, Howard said.
in August, the transition team approved a six-month severance plan for
the GCOM’s 13 employees, supplemental severance for years of service and
fixed termination dates for employees based on pending assignments. By
Oct. 31, eight of the 13 employees are expected to leave GCOM under the
plan. Dan Church, the agency’s top staff executive, and four employees
will remain until Dec. 31.
addition, the team renewed short-term leases for 10 non-profit tenants
leasing space in GCOM’s building at 601 W. Riverview Ave. in Dayton,
Ohio. Ultimately, the team will recommend to the denomination’s trustees
what to do with the building.
members will meet again Nov. 6-7 in Jacksonville, Fla., to continue
their work related to winding up GCOM and transferring its functions to
addition to Christopher, the transition team includes Bishop John L.
Hopkins of Ohio; LeVeeda Morgan Battle, North Alabama Annual (regional)
Conference; Mary Hayenga, Dakotas Conference; the Rev. Marilynn M.
Huntington, California-Pacific Conference; the Rev. Patrick Streiff,
Switzerland-France Conference; Gerald "Jay" Williams, Western New York
Conference; and the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, a retired pastor in the
Baltimore-Washington Conference and now interim president of United
Methodist-related Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
new members to the panel include the Rev. W. Timothy McClendon of South
Carolina and Ann A. Saunkeah of Oklahoma. Transition team members
decided to expand the panel to 10 so the group would be more
geographically and ethnically inclusive, Howard said. McClendon and
Saunkeah have Native American ancestry.
*Smith is a freelance writer in Dallas.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.