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I think that instituting terms for bishops with re-election by GENERAL Conference would go far toward both establishing episcopal accountability and acceptance of elimination of guaranteed appointments. Also, I am in support of the Call to Action's effect of reining in the general agencies.
I question the need for a full-time position as "president of the Council of Bishops." The language in the "Call to Action" document suggest this position would provide leadership for our church, allow our bishops to focus on mission, and engage more easily in ecumenical ministry and conversation. However, the "Call to Action" recommendations combined with the ministry study recommendations in effect vest even more power with our episcopal leadership.
I have observed our denomination on these matters since I was a boy. I have to wonder the following: For 30 years we have slowly vested more and more power with episcopal leadership and superintendency in general. We recognize we are in a difficult position as a denomination. Does it make sense to do what we have done for 30 years, again, in the hopes of "fixing" the perceived problem? Please do not hear me suggesting the problem is our episcopal leadership; the problem is us deciding to do the same things over and over and over while expecting different outcomes from doing the same things over and over.
If guaranteed appointments are to be eliminated, then Bishops should be limited to two terms and then revoted upon by the Jurisdiction that elected them but only for a max. of an additional two terms. Bishops should have the same medical and pension plans that all clergy participate in the conference they are attached to.
One must wonder how this will affect the small rural church wchich is often the sustaining church body of a given conference. Growth (attendance and membership) is not always the best feature of a "vital" church in a community that is in transition (i.e., decline). Often it seems as though the rural church is neglected by the Bishop in favor of the large urban churches that have a much smaller geographic area in which to reach others. Many of the current members have no knowledge of the Bishop and wonder why they are seemingly forgotten. Is it time to rethink the "Call to Action" and include some guidelines with input from the conferences they serve? Just a thought.
Thank you Pastor_R. You are exactly right. I'd like to add that our denomination's "corporation" way of thinking is leading us to think of churches in terms of "profit margin units" rather than disciple-making stations and places to "find" God. God isn't always looking for the "big thing" but is looking for all the little things we do for Him day-in and day-out.
What should happen is Bishops should lead by giving up life time episcopacy if the guaranteed appointment is done away with. Perhaps if they had the same risks applied to them that Pastors have on a daily basis things would be different. Giving more power to someone who is already insulated from what most of us are expected to deal with is a mistake.
I totally agree, why aren't Bishops held just as accountable of having guaranteed appointments removed? Perhaps the best way to do that is to allow a Bishop to serve two terms max (one if minimum bench marks aren't met by their conference) and then rotate back in among the "regular" clergy.
is the theology of the Call to Action Report, or should I say has any
theological values been applied in its creation. I see none, what I
do see is a corporate model of down-sizing and monopolization of
power. It is said that Bishops' powers are still imited, but lets
be honest, Bishops have a lot of influence in the election of delgates,
the selection of committee persons, the hiring of Conference staff, the
selection of future espicopal nominees, and so on...the Call to Action
just names the powers that have already been taken (at least some of
them). I feel the hold report needs to be tabled until we can
theologically understand what we are trying to do...are we simply trying
to hang on to some semblance of existance as the UMC or be the church!
Maybe we should have missional bishops (who function as our present bishops who travel the world and are the "face" of the church) and also real resident bishops who are daily in residence where they are called to serve.
It is fascinating that the concern is focused on concentrating power with bishops when the whole proposal is designed, whether by intent or not, to concentrate power and control in much fewer persons, lay and clergy and especially by excluding the opportunities to be the kind of inclusive church we are now. If the goal is to develop more vital congregations, we should be working to involve more people, or at least the broad range we do now, rather than by more exclusion and centering power and decision making in a relative handful. As a church, as the Body of Christ, we should be driven by mission, openness and inclusiveness.
I support re-organization because there can be no argument the current system is NOT working. Along with greater accountability for pastors/clergy, though, we also need greater accountability for local churches, including churches of all areas. It seems to me that when we put people who are currently in positions of authority and power to be the ones who suggest the changes, that's like putting the fox in charge of counting the inventory in the hen house...with no outside audit. Our system is broken....the local churches know this, the local pastors know this, but for some reason, our established/entrenched bureacracy and vested, agenda-driven interests either refuse or can't see that reality. This CTA and IOT is our last chance.