News from the Council of Bishops meeting
Bishops back special Sunday for migration crisis
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has backed designating a Sunday later this year for prayers about the global migration crisis and for collecting a special offering to address suffering caused by forced migration.
The bishops, meeting May 4, also received an update on efforts toward achieving full communion between The United Methodist Church and Episcopal Church.
A handful of reports were accepted in the next-to-last-day of the council’s Dallas meeting, including one from the Council of Bishops Immigration Task Force.
“This is the day for The UMC to act with conviction and courage, giving life to its commitment to be disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” the report says. “How we respond to the immigration crisis at this moment will determine the vitality of the church for generations to come.”
San Francisco Area Bishop Minerva Carcaño, chair of the Council of Bishops Immigration Task Force, spoke to her colleagues about the challenges posed by President Trump’s tougher approach to immigration, including his plan to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
She described as well the vast extent of forced global migration, and the challenge that poses for The United Methodist Church and other faith groups.
Carcaño, for the task force, asked the bishops to support a request already going to the Connectional Table for $200,000 to boost immigration-related work in the five U.S. jurisdictions. The funding would be shared equally among the jurisdictions, with a focus on training conference and church leaders.
The Connectional Table, which is meeting May 16-22, coordinates the denomination’s mission, ministry and resources. It also has the authority to distribute contingency funds.
That request comes from the broader United Methodist Immigration Task Force, and Carcaño urged bishops to voice their support for dedicated spending in boosting the church’s response on immigration issues.
“The present-day crisis requires an investment, a clear investment,” she said. READ MORE
Keeping focused on Four Areas of Focus
Keep faith with the denomination’s Four Areas of Focus. But make sure the specific ministry application is effective and relevant in local contexts, especially the local church.
That was the message hammered home May 3 as the United Methodist Council of Bishops continued its meeting in Dallas.
“This is not just a program,” Nordic-Baltic Area Bishop Christian Alsted said of the Four Areas of Focus. “This is our way of being as United Methodists.”
Adopted in 2008, the Four Areas of Focus stress ministering with the poor, developing principled Christian leaders, creating new and renewed congregations and improving global health.
Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference referred to both the Four Areas of Focus and the Vital Congregations initiative as particularly important when denominational unity is severely tested because of disagreements over homosexuality.
“I sometimes wonder if we didn’t have these Four Areas of Focus and Vital Congregations as a guide, how we would go forward together in this time,” she said.
Bishops heard from Dan Krause, top executive of United Methodist Communications, that the denomination’s messaging about ministry emphases needs to reach the local church.
“We want every local church to be able to see themselves in the Four Areas of Focus,” he said.
The Rev. Kim Cape, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, shared a first-ever collaborative quarterly report from agency leaders detailing the agencies’ work, including through the Four Areas of Focus. She is the convener of the General Secretaries Table, which brings together the top executives of the denomination’s general agencies.
Cape spoke of a new commitment by agency leaders to work with bishops, conferences and local churches on mission initiatives.
The unity-through-mission theme was much in evidence, stressed an address by Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference.
“Whatever it takes, we will do this together,” he said. “The church needs us to maintain focus. The church needs us to be accountable to the mission and ministries that transform lives for Jesus, our risen Christ.” READ MORE
Hodges, a United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at email@example.com.