United Methodist Leader Calls for Confident and Bold Mission

Date Posted: 4/13/2011

A call for United Methodist confidence and boldness in mission was issued on April 12 in the semi-annual report of the denominations' chief mission executive.


Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, asked directors of the mission agency if they and the church at large were bold enough to launch new efforts to start new churches around the world. The directors, meeting April 11-13 in Stamford, Connecticut, had only a few minutes earlier been "visited" via electronic links by missionaries and indigenous church leaders from more than a half-dozen new mission initiatives in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central America.


Kemper's theme was "God's Grace and Church Growth." He said that all church growth must be measured by the standards of God's love in Jesus Christ. "Does church growth result in an increase of love for God, for one another, and for neighbors?" he asked. "If not, numbers are meaningless."


Is the church confident enough, he continued, to dramatically enlarge global mission service opportunities for young adults, based in part on a 60-year-old model of two-year service commitments? He foresaw as many as 500 new young adults in professional-level mission service per year.


Kemper said that Global Ministries was working on such an expansion in collaboration with a group--linked to the denominations' Council of Bishops--that seeks to implement a United Methodist focus area on leadership development.


Noting that 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of a US-2 young adult mission program, Kemper said, "My vision is for Global 2s (G-2s) working in communities that face such issues as poverty, violence, substance abuse, racism, human rights violations, immigration issues, health challenges, childcare, environmental justice, and criminal justice."


Kemper also reported that, dependent on income, Global Ministries was planning regional offices in Asia and Latin America and anticipated soon opening a China Office, either on the mainland or in Hong Kong, "to accompany the church's growth and changing religious landscape of that vast country."


The central part of Kemper's report focused on new preliminary research from a Boston University research team that describes as "anemic" current United Methodist global church growth. Comparisons are made to such "sister denominations" as the Church of the Nazarene, Anglican, and "independent" Methodist organizations. (A link to the study will be provided when it is available in an online journal.)


Download the full text of Kemper's Report

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