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Wisconsin Delegation Statement

March 8, 2012

    Wisconsin Delegation Statement

 

The Wisconsin Annual Conference delegation affirms the need for our denomination to seriously consider necessary changes to its structure, its leadership development and credentialing processes, its financial stewardship, its faithfulness, and its relationship to the larger global church. We acknowledge and appreciate the hard work done thus far by our bishops and the various agencies and study teams to produce The Call to Action, the Study of Ministry, the Interim Operations Team report, and other proposals for change within The United Methodist Church, but we have reservations that the current recommendations will not produce the intended results. Among our concerns:

  • Decisions about structure should be based on missional priorities and outcomes: form must follow function and it is currently unclear what outcomes the proposed structure would enable us to achieve more effectively.
  • The absence of a spiritual center to the process of determining our future is troubling – we would encourage a greater emphasis on prayer, fasting, Christian conference, reflective discernment, and scriptural study.
  • There is not a clear explanation of how the proposed cuts will truly benefit the church in the long term, just an assumption that we can do more, better with less – we would like to see more strategy and less assumptions.
  • Core questions of identity and purpose are being ignored in favor of structure, policies and image; the assumption seems to be that systemic change isn’t necessary as long as we can rearrange parts of the existing system – we would encourage a clarity about our identity and purpose guiding our decisions about what to keep and what to eliminate.
  • A hierarchical, non-representative structure seems antithetical to the values and nature of The United Methodist Church – how we work must reflect who we truly are.
  • The issues of guaranteed appointment and ordination process are symptomatic of deeper dysfunction in our leadership credentialing and support system; creating conference level positions and a culture of call do not adequately address deeper issues – we must improve our processes of discernment and assessment rather than seek remedial solutions.
  • Our current trends toward counting – worship attendance, professions of faith, numbers of small groups, etc. – provide an unbalanced approach to evaluation and confuse size with health.  Qualitative metrics and holistic definitions of health and vitality are needed. Confusing “people who attend worship” with “disciples” is deeply problematic.
  • “Discipleship” is lifted as our focus and goal, yet most of the recommendations do nothing to help define what we mean by discipleship or how the changes will equip our congregations to create sustainable and effective systems for disciple-cultivation.

We acknowledge the need to make significant changes in a very short timeframe, but the current reports and recommendations create more questions than they answer. Our delegation will actively seek alternatives to the current recommendations and encourage dialogue and discernment that will offer short-term relief while allowing us adequate time to discover or create long-lasting, sustainable solutions to our deepest problems.

Issued March 8, 2012

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6 Comments
  1. Katie Osier permalink

    Wisconsin Delegation –
    Thank you for addressing this clearly. There are many who share these questions. Please know you will be in prayer in your strength to share these at General Conference, as will be the whole of the General Conference be lifted up to be led by the Spirit, towards God’s grace, means, and ends.

    Thank you.

  2. Herbert Williamson permalink

    Thanks for your thoughtful work. I hope you will send copies of this to the other delegations.

  3. Norman Neel permalink

    Our church has become a bloated bureaucracy of unmanageable and unaccountable committees that have lost their original purpose and lost connection with the average persons in the pews. It is time for a dramatic change in structure with an emphasis on major cost reductions within the ‘overhead’ functions, accountability of the Bishops to the local churches, pay and retention based on performance, greater focus on discipleship, less emphasis on secular politics, re-centering our teaching on the Bible.

    I hope our General Conference delegates do not miss this historic opportunity to bring our church back to a central focus on Christ and his directions to us through His holy word! Drop the politics and pick up the Bible – that should be our call to action!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Good News Magazine » Blog Archive » Wisconsin delegations has reservations about Call to Action
  2. Critiques… « Wisconsin UMC to GC2012
  3. Tear Down the Silos » One Pastor's Thoughts: Rev. Joey Reed, OSL

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