May 6, 2004
By Tim Tanton*
(UMNS)—The United Methodist Church has decided to create a
“Connectional Table” to guide the work of the denomination’s general
| Bishop Edward Paup|
Connectional Table that was approved May 5 by delegates to the church’s
General Conference is substantially different from the model proposed
by the denomination’s General Council on Ministries.
legislative committee that processed the Council on Ministries proposal
essentially set that plan aside and came up with an alternate
Connectional Table that is smaller and, according to proponents of the
new model, less costly.
in the full assembly voted to adopt the General Administration
Committee’s proposal and not that of the Council on Ministries.
new Connectional Table will begin operating next Jan. 1 — two years
sooner than the date in the Council on Ministries’ proposal. The Council
on Ministries will go out of existence at the end of a transition
The table will have 47 members, compared with about 130 in the council’s proposal.
Rev. Deborah McLeod, Florida, who presented the successful proposal,
said the new table would be holistic, collaborative, diverse and
functional. “It’s a small table, and it will work.”
General Administration Committee’s goal was not to create a new general
agency, she said. “We do not see this as one giant super agency. It is a
place for collaboration, conversation and decision.”
Edward Paup, president of the Council of Ministries, urged the
delegates to adopt the original proposal, known as “Living Into the
Future.” “We have believed through this process that there is a
disconnect at the general church level, especially between decisions
made about our resources, our money, and decisions made about our
ministry and mission.”
“Living Into the Future” plan would have combined the functions of the
Council on Ministries and the Council on Finance and Administration,
bringing mission and money to the same table, and both agencies would
have gone out of existence. Paup said the other proposal “does not
connect the connection.”
Under the successful proposal, the Council on Finance and Administration will remain intact.
The new table’s members will consist of:
people elected through jurisdictional and central conferences. One will
come from each of the seven central conferences — regional units of the
church in Africa, Asia and Europe — and a total of 21 will come from
the five U.S. jurisdictional conferences. The jurisdictional members are
to represent the proportionate membership of each jurisdiction based on
combined clergy and lay membership.
- An “effective bishop,” selected by the Council of Bishops. The bishop will be the chairperson of the table.
presidents of most of the church’s general agencies: the Board of
Church and Society, Board of Discipleship, Board of Global Ministries,
Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Commission on Christian Unity
and Interreligious Concerns, Commission on Religion and Race, Commission
on the Status and Role of Women, Commission on United Methodist Men,
Commission on Communications, Commission on Archives and History, and
Council on Finance and Administration.
- One youth and one young adult from the new Division on Ministries with Young People.
- A member from each of the denomination’s racial-ethnic caucuses.
general secretaries of the agencies named above, as well as the general
secretary of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits and the president
and publisher of the United Methodist Publishing House. The general
secretaries and Publishing House president will have voice but not vote.
new table is to be half laity, half clergy; half female, half male; not
less than 30 percent members of racial-ethnic minority groups
(excluding central conference members) and at least 10 percent youth and
The Connectional Table will determine its own internal structure and staff needs.
United Methodist Church has undertaken a series of studies on
restructuring over the years. The 2000 General Conference directed the
Council on Ministries to take five “transformation directions” from a
previous study, work on them and report back in 2004. The council’s
primary focus during the past four years was on developing the “Living
Into the Future” proposal.
Conference meets every four years. Nearly 1,000 delegates from around
the world are meeting April 27-May 7 to conduct the assembly’s business
on behalf of the 10 million-member denomination.
*Tanton is manging editor of United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.