In each General Conference, which happens every four years, issues that have bearing in the life of our church are proposed and are either approved or denied. The following are some of those issues to be taken at the 2012 General Conference.
Restructuring the General Agencies
At present there are 13 General Agencies in our church. It is proposed that 9 of these be consolidated into one and the new structure be governed by a 15 member board of directors. this new entity is accountable to a 45 member advisory board called “General Council” for strategy and oversight. If approved, the consolidation would be achieved not later than Dec 31, 2014.
Reforming the Council of Bishops
This proposal redefines the role of President of the Council. Under the proposal, the President will serve full time for 4 years without the responsibilities of overseeing an Episcopal Area. The president would be the denominations chief ecumenical officer, help align the strategic directions of the church and focus on growing vital congregation, among other duties.
To be adopted a constitutional amendment must be approved by 2/3 of the delegates and 2/3 of the aggregate number of members attending Annual Conferences.
Clergy Appointment and Ordination Process
The Commission to study the ministry is recommending to eliminate appointment guarantees (guaranteed appointments) for ordained elders in good standing while retaining the ability of the bishops to move clergy to different assignments and churches. Guaranteeing all elders an appointment restricts the flexibility of bishops to appoint the most effective person for each congregation. It is a major contributor to mediocrity and ineffectiveness to the ministry. As some churches struggle to survive and some Conferences have an oversupply of ordained clergy. Guaranteed appointments have become a barrier to achieving the church’s mission.
The present appointment structure and compensation system are unaffordable and unsustainable and often do not place competent qualified leadership into local churches.
It is recognized that eliminating appointment guarantees could adversely affect pastoral freedom in the pulpit and leave clergy subject to potential abuse of authority. It is recommended that the AC determine a clear definition of clergy effectiveness and a method for evaluating effectiveness and the mission needs of communities.
Under the proposal, a corrective plan between the bishop and clergy person will be initiated after concerns are identified. If that plan fails to produce the desired results, the bishop and District Superintendent may place the clergy person on “administrative location,” which removes the clergy’s conference membership.
The committee also recommends streamlining the candidacy process. If approved, candidates could be eligible for ordination as soon as they complete their educational requirements. After serving for at least two years as provisional elder or deacon, they would be eligible for full conference membership.
The Worldwide Church
Delegates will consider recommendations to make the United Methodist Church less US (American) centric and strengthen the worldwide connection.
The committee recommends to 1) Adopt “A Covenant for the Church as a worldwide church.” 2) Streamline the Book of Disciple to focus on law and doctrine applying to the entire church rather than dealing with predominantly US (American) issues.
The proposal specifies those parts of the Discipline that apply to all United Methodists, including the Constitution, Doctrinal Standards, Social Principles, standards for ordained ministry, rules on church property and the organizations of various church institutions. Regional entities could create their own supplements to the Discipline covering issues and processes that related directly to their part of the world, such as theological education.