|Global mission board looks to future direction|
Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, addresses directors at an April 27 meeting in Stamford,
UMNS photos by Cassandra M. Zampini.
By Linda Bloom*
April 30, 2009 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
As the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries considers the
future of mission for the denomination, the way the agency staffs and
operates its programs will change.
On April 29, directors of the mission board approved a series of
recommendations aimed at developing a restructuring plan “for more
effective ministry.” The plan – to be finalized in October -- will
almost certainly include a re-grouping of staff and program areas and
possible staff reductions and changes in governance.
Mississippi Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, a board vice president,
presented recommendations from the executive committee during the
spring board meeting, after directors had received an “organizational
audit” prepared by Management Partners, Inc., a Cincinnati-based firm.
The audit was discussed in executive session and its details were not
Several task forces will be established by the end of May to work on
restructuring plans and a theology of mission statement, in
collaboration with the Rev. Edward Paup, the board’s top executive, the
staff cabinet, and the board’s personnel committee. Implementation of
changes would occur no later than the beginning of 2010.
Specific recommendations requiring a change in the Book of
Discipline, the denomination’s book of law, would receive further
consideration by board directors and ultimately result in legislation
for the United Methodist General Conference in 2012, according to West
Ohio Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Board of Global Ministries.
The executive committee affirmed both the denomination’s four areas
of focus and the mission agency’s own goals. “We will continue to be
faithful to the disciplinary mandates of making disciples of Jesus
Christ; strengthening, developing and renewing Christian congregations
and communities; alleviating human suffering and seeking justice,
freedom and peace,” the committee wrote in its preamble to the
recommendations enabling the restructure process.
‘Very broad framework’
In an interview with United Methodist News Service, Ough called what
the directors had discussed in executive session “a very broad
framework” for how the agency would be restructured.
“This meeting was designed in large part…to point in a direction,” the bishop said.
He noted that the final report from Management Partners is still
being edited. “There are 218 specific recommendations that will be
coming,” he said.
In general, the work of the board is expected to be grouped into
four areas. The Women’s Division also remains a part of the agency. Its
directors have improved, in principle, a strategic plan for changes
within the division and United Methodist Women.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, “a well known and very
respected brand,” would continue in its present structure, according to
Ough, and constitute one area.
Two other area groupings would combine staff and programs related to
finance and administration and those related to fund development and
communications. “Much of telling the story is to create the environment
in which people feel good about giving to missions,” Ough added.
All mission program units -- such as community and institutional
ministries, mission contexts and relationships, mission personnel and
evangelism and church growth -- would coordinate their work together in
No staffing decisions
The board has some 300 staff employees, including Women’s Division
staff. “No decisions have been made yet about which specific staff
positions might be modified, consolidated or eliminated,” Ough said.
Directors did approve a recommendation from the executive committee
providing for “a retirement incentive for eligible GBGM employees.” He
called that a tool, which could be used as staffing is rearranged.
However, it is likely that the restructure will mean the elimination
of some positions. The consultants, according to Ough, “believe the
work could be done more efficiently and therefore could result in some
staff reduction and cost savings.”
Decisions about staffing will fall to board’s executive cabinet,
working with the implementation task force, and the board’s personnel
committee, he said.
Concern was expressed about being able to provide a fair salary
based on geographic location. In its audit, Management Partners pointed
out that church employees working in the New York area receive 86 cents
on the dollar compared to Nashville-based employees.
Directors approved a recommendation to petition the Committee of
Policies and Personnel Practices of the denomination’s General Council
on Finance and Administration “to institute a pay differential for
various geographic areas.” The Board of Global Ministries has made a
similar request in the past.
On a broader level, issues of governance – the number of board
directors, the frequency and length of meetings, the structure in terms
of committees – will be considered as part of the restructuring,
according to Ough.
While Management Partners did not make a specific suggestion about
the number of directors, he explained, the consultants did share some
general data, including “some research that indicates the larger boards
get, the more dependent they are on staff,” resulting in less
A task force of directors also will consider how the agency “locates
itself across the globe” to carry out its vision and mission work, but
Ough stressed that directive does not necessarily include a relocation
of the board’s headquarters.
As part of the finance committee report, board directors approved
paying up to $125,000 to Management Partners to assist in
implementation of the operational audit recommendations. Action by the
board’s emergency funding committee to pay the firm “up to $200,000”
for the work on the audit itself also was approved.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missions board suffers loss of investment income
Native heritage, Christian faith bring conflict
UMW seeks changes in denominational relationships
Mission agency to cut $3.9 million from budget
Board of Global Ministries