Yesterday, United Methodist leaders gathered in groups around the world in more than 1,000 locations to hear and discuss the Call to Action report as part of the United Methodist Leadership Summit (you can watch the entire video at the site).
While the event took place at a convenient hour for many of us, in some parts of the world, leaders assembled in the middle of the night. For leaders in the Philippines, for example, the summit began at 11:00 p.m.
It’s not known how many leaders gathered together in all, but it was reported that there were 300 leaders who had gathered in Zimbabwe! I attended with leaders from the Susquehanna Conference in Mechanicsburg, PA.
The report calls for fairly significant change in the UMC. The purpose statement repeated over and over in the presentation was …
To redirect the flow of attention, energy, and resources to an intense concentration on fostering and sustaining an increase in the number of vital congregations effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The event included a one-hour online presentation, followed by one hour of small group discussion in each location centered around three questions. The final hour online was spent responding to questions that had been submitted by email.
I certainly don’t claim to fully understand the report or all of its implications, except that it is clearly an attempt to turn things around where the UMC is declining (U.S. and Europe). I assume the event was intended to help prepare for next year’s General Conference (May 2012).
My favorite moments were singing two Charles Wesley hymns, one at the beginning and one at the end (“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and “A Charge to Keep I Have”). How often do United Methodists, gathered in 1,000 locations all over the world, sing Wesleyan hymns together (we didn’t hear each other, of course, but it was an awesome moment, nonetheless)!
Hopefully, we will discern how God is leading us toward renewal and becoming a movement again. One thing is for certain—we must move beyond studying to actually doing!