Here are highlights from the Discipleship and General Administration Legislative Committees. These items were approved by General Conference.
•GBOD’s Board of Directors size was reduced from 60 members to 22 members, and the Division on Ministries with Young People’s membership moved from 59 to 42.
•The size of the Curriculum Resources Committee was reduced, and the work of that committee was clarified to bring the Discipline up-to-date with present practices of the committee.
•This Holy Mystery (the church’s Holy Communion foundational document) was continued and will be reprinted in the Book of Resolutions.
•By Water and the Spirit (the church’s Baptismal foundational document) was continued and will be reprinted in the Book of Resolutions.
•The Ordinal: Liturgical Services for Ordination of Deacons and Elders was approved.
•“Lay Speaking Ministries” language was changed to “Lay Servant Ministries”. A particular track for learning and certification for those who participate in speaking ministries was continued as lay speaking. One constitutional amendment will be presented next summer that changes the language from “Lay Speaking Ministries” to “Lay Servant Ministries”.
•Language was added that gives responsibility for GBOD to work with GCFA to bring stewardship leaders together for consultation and planning to assist leaders in stewardship and funding ministries.
•The national plan, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, was continued. It remains administratively linked to GBOD.
•The Native American Comprehensive Plan was continued. It remains administratively linked to GBOD. (Also, the National Plans for Hispanic/Latino, Asian Language, Korean American, and Pacific Islander ministries were continued and are administratively linked to GBGM.)
•The Africana Hymnal project report was received. Needed materials to assist music and singing ministries will be created in this new quadrennium.
•GBOD’s budget was reduced by 10% for this coming quadrennium. While GBOD had planned a budget reduction of 6.1%, all of the general church agencies receiving apportioned funds agreed to reduce budgets by an additional 4%. These monies will be used to provide $5,000,000 for theological education in the Central Conferences and to provide $7,000,000 to support training and deployment of young clergy within the USA.
Additional highlights regarding GBOD’s accomplishments include the following.
•Over these last four years, GBOD has made space for a staff devoted to new church starts as a response to one of the four areas of focus–“New Places for New People and the Renewal of Existing Local Churches”. As a result of this partnership across the church, GBOD has worked with annual conference congregational developers, the Council of Bishops, district superintendents, and all of the racial ethnic national plans. As a result of these partnerships, 610 new churches have been started in the USA since 2008. That’s a 219% increase in new church starts since last quadrennium. Almost one-half of those new church starts are racial ethnic or multi-ethnic. The failure/closure rate has dropped from 26% last quadrennium to 8%. Over 3000 church planters have been trained which includes 278 lay persons trained to begin Hispanic/Latino new churches or faith communities. Plans for ongoing efforts with these various partners continues as the new quadrennium approaches. We’re moving as a denomination toward the large goal of starting one church a day in the USA. With God’s grace and a lot of hard work, we believe that it’s possible to reclaim our old traditions of starting new churches every day.
•The flip side of new church starts is found in the transformation of existing local churches. GBOD links its work with the vital congregations initiative and is providing support, planning assistance and resources for local church pastors and laity who seek to set and implement their goals for renewed vitality. While the statistics are harder to describe in this area of work, significant progress is being made across the USA where local church leaders link with others in their efforts to transform their local churches. GBOD is working with GCFA, UMCOM, and GCORR in an eighteen month research project that is seeking stories of “how” church leaders are leading change and moving their congregations toward vitality. This effort builds from the Call to Action’s research projects which identified “what” is being done as congregations renew themselves. This story gathering research effort is asking “how” these leaders have led change, how they have learned along the way, and how they are moving into the future to solidify their change efforts. We believe that it’s important for pastors and laity to hear the stories of how change occurs along with knowing what the vitality markers of effective local churches are. Results of this work are being reported on the web site devoted to congregational vitality – umvitalcongregations.org. Additionally, GBOD has launched a whole series of webinars that seek to assist local church leaders in specific areas of ministry – particularly in the area of stewardship and local church administrative functions. We are reaching many more people than we are able to reach via learning sessions that are annual conference specific. Each of these webinars are archived in order to make them available to people who can watch them whenever it’s convenient to do so. In the coming quadrennium, this webinar initiative will continue and expand to address ministry function areas of evangelism, study and learning, worship, etc.
•GBOD has heard the word that there is too much distance between the work that we do and those whom we seek to serve. Thus, GBOD has been experimenting this whole quadrennium with the deployment of staff into the jurisdictions and Central Conferences. Currently, we have deployed new church starts staff across the USA and young people’s ministry staff in each of the jurisdictions and the Central Conferences. We are finding that the deployment of staff regionally is making tremendous differences in the abilities for people to connect with the ministry support that GBOD provides. Additionally, it is much easier for staff to hear regularly from the people we serve about what works well and what doesn’t. Development and delivery of needed services (i.e., resources, training, coaching, networking, and creating new responses to expressed needs for ministry support) are morphing and changing to provide support for local church and annual conference leaders.
•GBOD launched this quadrennium a sustainable resourcing initiative to provide needed and most often lacking resources in the Central Conferences, particularly in the Philippines and episcopal areas of Africa. As a result of this initiative, we are working with local leaders to create publishing and resource providing teams that are creating locally the resources most needed in their areas. A major goal of this project is to provide sustainable ways to create these needed materials. Thus, these resourcing networks are creating materials whose income is reinvested in new and ongoing local resourcing systems. Another major goal of this initiative is to move away from a USA system in which the USA UMC provides resources that have to be adapted locally or that are unusable due to cultural mismatches. When this project was begun in 2008, no local resource teams existed. Now, local teams are working in the Philippines, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Central Congo, South Mozambique, North Mozambique, and Europe. Teams are being launched in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, North Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Congo, Burundi, West Angola, East Angola, Russia and Finland. These projects are providing Bible study materials, theological texts to be used in the various universities and seminaries across the world, worship liturgies, ministry support materials (stewardship, worship, etc.), and many more. Many of these materials are developed in indigenous languages and also in the primary languages of English, French, Portuguese, etc. This effort is led by GBOD and includes these other agencies – GBHEM, UMCOM, GCAH, GBCS, and UMPH. Additionally, we are working with various USA annual conferences to link this effort with their specific partnerships with annual conferences in Africa, the Philippines, and in Europe.
I hope the above information is useful as you make reports and engage in conversations about the work of GBOD. It will be good to see you in August at the final meeting of GBOD’s present board of directors. A call to meeting letter will be coming to you in the coming weeks.
Rev. Karen Greenwaldt
GBOD | The United Methodist Church
Nashville, TN 37212-2129
Toll-free: (877) 899-2780 Ext. 7022
“Equipping World-Changing Disciples for 40 Years, 1972-2012”