Reclaiming a Movement

Reflections on the direction of the United Methodist Church.

We just read an article describing Bishop Janice Riggle Huie’s address to the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church: Bishops’ President Calls For New Church Movement. Bishop Huie, President of the Council of Bishops, challenged the leaders to reclaim the denomination’s heritage as a movement, saying …

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to loosen up a little. I’m ready to move. I’m ready to follow Jesus. I am ready for The United Methodist Church to rise up and dance before the Lord. I’m ready for The United Methodist Church to step forward into God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven. I believe this Council of Bishops is ready to lead that movement.

It’s an encouraging sign for the future of the UMC, we believe. The UMC is facing many challenges today, not the least of which is that we have become more of an institution, less of a movement. In the US, it has been in steady decline for decades (although it is growing rapidly outside the US).

But we believe there are some positive developments in the UMC, including …

Leadership. There is a growing emphasis on the importance of transformational leadership, and many leaders are stepping up and leading. While the turnaround will not happen overnight, we are convinced that it can indeed happen. And we want to be part of the transformation!

A renewed sense of biblical mission. Along the journey there have been many issues battling for our attention by various church and para-church agencies. But in recent years there has been a recommitment and return to God’s call to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Our Conference. While we’re not very familiar with other conferences, we believe our conference, under the leadership of Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, is headed in the right direction. In fact, we’re looking forward to next week’s session of Annual Conference (see the preview we wrote last month).

One of the things sure to stir things up is the session featuring Jim Walker and Jeff Eddings, pastors of Hot Metal Bridge Community Church (Pittsburgh, PA). BTW, Jeff Walker was at an Annual Conference session in Maryland recently, and we’ve been following an online conversation among some Maryland pastors, including a comment from Jim Walker. It’s a taste of what we’ll hear next week.

We’ll give a report on some of the highlights of Annual Conference in our respective churches on the following Sunday (06.10.2007), and we will post more in-depth reflections here on the blog after we get back.

Please pray for the United Methodist Church, that we will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and that we will indeed reclaim our heritage as a Spirit-led movement!

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