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Connectional Table Embraces Collaboration, Partnership and Missional Focus

Chicago, IL – Ministry in the Four Areas of Focus is pivotal to bringing about vital congregations, the Connectional Table has reaffirmed.

Meeting in Chicago, IL from April 29 through May 1, the 59-member body of the Connectional Table discussed strategies to strengthen and integrate the collaborative work across the church on increasing the number of vital congregations, engaging in the Four Areas of Focus and adapting the church to the global realities of United Methodism worldwide.

“We took another step forward as a Connectional Table, bringing our diverse perspectives and experiences together to focus on how we tell the amazing story of God’s activity in the world through The United Methodist Church,” said CT Chair Bishop Bruce Ough. “I am encouraged and excited by the movement toward collaboration, new partnerships and a shared understanding of the missional outcomes we want to embrace as a denomination.”

“We came to the realization that ministry in the Four Areas of Focus is the fruit of vital congregations,” explained Rev. Amy Valdez Barker, executive secretary of the CT. “Local churches with a missional focus toward engaging in ministry with the poor, healing the world of killer diseases like malaria, starting new churches and raising up Christ-centered leaders are vital congregations sharing God’s love with our neighbors. As we increase our discipleship and mission in the four areas across the world, we need to find new ways to shape our work together as a connectional church.”

On Tuesday, April 30, Dr. Russell Richey, dean emeritus at Candler School of Theology and member of the Council of Bishops’ Committee on Faith and Order, presented a resource paper on the nature, mission and faithfulness of The United Methodist Church providing a theological foundation for the CT’s conversations. Dr. Richey served as a dialogue partner throughout the CT’s discussions on vital congregations, four areas of focus and the worldwide nature of the church offering both historical and ecclesiological perspectives.

In other business, the CT voted to support a working proposal presented by Fitzgerald Reist, secretary of the General Conference, to revise the United Methodist Social Principles in order to reflect a more global perspective. The CT also met in their four primary administrative groups to further the work mandated by the General Conference. The four administrative groups are: 1) Finance and Budget Review; 2) General Conference; 3) Evaluation and Accountability and 4) Leadership Discernment.

The Connectional Table is responsible for coordinating the mission and ministry of the UMC and aligning resources to adapt to the needs of a changing church and world. The meeting was held at the Lutheran Center building in Chicago where the new CT administrative offices are located. The body received a warm welcome from the ELCA’s presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and the president of the National Council of Churches Kathryn Lohre. Worship was coordinated by Cynthia Wilson, dean of students at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.

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