12:00 P.M. EST April 5, 2010 | NASHVILLE (UMNS)
Members of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry
surround staff members who are retiring in a prayer circle during the
final worship service of the board’s spring meeting in Nashville, Tenn. A
UMNS photo by Vicki Brown, GBHEM.
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Collaboration is key to addressing the challenges facing The United
Methodist Church today, including a widespread mistrust throughout the
connection, says a theology professor.
“We have a lot of mistrust of one another,” the Rev. Russell Richey, a
professor of church history at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta,
told members of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and
Ministry meeting March 18-20 in Nashville. “We don’t trust the bishops;
we don’t trust the agencies; we don’t trust the annual (regional)
conferences. If there were some way of dispelling this mistrust, I think
that would be key.”
Richey’s talk informed a larger conversation among board members and
staff at the spring meeting. Much of their time was spent brainstorming
and crafting plans for closer collaboration in the work of developing
principled Christian leaders.
“We can’t be effective leaders if we think we are going to do it
ourselves. That doesn’t work at the local church level, and it doesn’t
work at the general church level,” said the Rev. Laurie Haller, a
district superintendent in the West Michigan Annual Conference. “We’re
hoping this board will lead the way to create a collaborative model for
leadership for the whole church.”
After small-group discussions, board members and staff of the agency
suggested specific actions, such as assessing the skills and interests
of board members to determine their passions and expertise, creating a
think tank and developing team projects. Several proposals will be
refined and brought back to the board for final action.
Together we can
In the opening plenary session, Seattle Area Bishop Grant Hagiya noted a
growing discontent with the centralization of The United Methodist
Church. He told the 62-member body that there is a cynicism that
apportionment dollars would be better spent locally.
The bishop celebrated the ability of local churches to reach around the
world, citing the work in Darfur that Ginghamsburg United Methodist
Church of Tipp City, Ohio, has done. However, he warned that a
decentralized church could not build Africa University. He suggested one
response might be a shift away from a centralized structure to a
“deployed regional hybrid model.”
“For example, our general agency’s expert staff could provide a
training-of-the-trainer model, deploying members of the board regionally
to help execute the model,” Hagiya said.
In other business, board members empowered the personnel and policies
committee to begin a search process for a new top executive, with the
goal of presenting a candidate at the August 2011 board meeting. The
Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, current top executive of the board, will
reach the 12-year limit for that post in 2012.
The board also honored Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the
Office of Loans and Scholarships, and the Rev. Mary Ann Moman, top
staff executive of the Division of Ordained Ministry, who will be
leaving office in June.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, United
Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.