General Board of Discipleship Executive Committee Statement on Various Pieces of Legislation Related to the Call to Action Including those Petitions Submitted to the General Conference by the Interim Operations Team
As the General Board of Discipleship met in August 2010, the initial research of the Call to Action was just beginning to be released. Board members recognized that many items lifted up in the Towers-Watson and Apex reports aligned with the Board’s strategic directions, particularly related to:
• resourcing local congregations around the identified drivers of vitality—worship, small groups, and lay and clergy leadership
• supporting new church starts
• equipping young people for leadership
• instituting a process to measure the effectiveness of provided services
Other items in the research prompted the GBOD to evaluate its structure and operational processes. This resulted in the formation of a task force to study the implications of moving to a smaller competency-based governance board. Over the next year the task force led the Board in a discernment process that culminated in proposed General Conference legislation that will reduce the number of Board members by more than 50%.
When the GBOD met in July 2011, the legislation proposed by the Interim Operations Team (IOT) had not yet been released. However, the Connectional Table did provide a document that outlined in broad strokes the direction the proposed legislation was taking. Board members considered carefully what might be the long-term implications, both intended and unintended. Recognizing that the final proposed legislation might resolve some of their concerns, the Board noted the following:
• They were in strong agreement with the need to focus on vital congregations, but were unclear as to how the proposed legislation led to this result.
• Since the mission of the GBOD is directly related to equipping leaders for congregational vitality, there will be an increased need for the resourcing provided by the GBOD, and yet the suggested budget reductions will result in reduced resources.
• The consequences of these proposals for the Central Conferences are not clear.
• This does not embrace the strength diversity brings to our connection.
• There is a lack of emphasis on lay leadership.
• This would weaken our connectional nature and push the church toward congregationalism.
• The proposed flow and allocation of funds needs to be much more specific and transparent, so that decision makers can clearly understand what will be lost as well as gained.
Since the GBOD meeting, the final proposed legislation from the IOT has been released. As we, the Executive Committee of the GBOD meeting on March 14, 2012, have examined the proposed legislation, we are troubled that many of the issues raised by our members did not become clearer in the final version. Of greatest concern is that it is not obvious how the pathway created by the IOT legislation is informed by the Call to Action research and leads to more vital congregations.
At its heart, we believe the deep change God is calling the church toward cannot simply be legislated. We know that creating and sustaining vital congregations is a spiritually transformative process. No matter what structural changes are enacted, we believe that clergy and laity must be equipped for leadership, congregations must engage in spiritual formation, young people must be valued members of the church body, and the church must extend the Gospel by starting new churches. With hope and confidence, the GBOD looks forward to being a faithful leader in the journey toward vitality. We pray the General Conference will listen well to the voices of the church, recognize the ways God is working among us, and commit anew to the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.