Leadership Summit Invites Global Sharing

Date Posted: 4/6/2011

An April 6 webcast will help United Methodist leaders and church members focus on how to make the short- and long-term changes necessary to meet the denomination’s future challenges.

The United Methodist Church Leadership Summit, slated for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Central Time, will be webcast from Nashville with conversation groups organized in episcopal areas.

“The Council of Bishops and Connectional Table are hoping to create informed conversation about the adaptive challenge facing our church,” said Neil M. Alexander, co-chair of the Call to Action Steering Team and president of the United Methodist Publishing House. “This involves both sharing information and creating tables of dialogue about important issues.”

In the wake of decades-long membership decline, the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table created the 16-member Call to Action Steering Team, which includes clergy and laity, to reorder the life of the church for greater effectiveness in the church’s mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Bishops, past General and Jurisdictional conference delegates, annual (regional) conference leaders, young leaders and emerging leaders from all annual conferences are invited to take part in the webcast.

The Call to Action Steering Team’s final report, presented last November to the Council of Bishops, stated that the status quo of a shrinking and aging U.S. church is “toxic” and unsustainable.

“We must reduce the perceived distance between the general church (including the general agencies), the annual conferences and local congregations,” the report said. “We must refashion and strengthen our approaches in leadership development, deployment and supervision. … In short, we must change our mindset so that our primary focus and commitment are on fostering and sustaining congregational vitality.”

Reshaping the Church for the 21st Century

Alexander expressed optimism about the leadership summit.

 “We expect a growing consensus about the key issues we must address, possible answers and deepened commitment to make constructive changes in practices and policies at all levels of the church,” he said.

“The summit is a hopeful time where we celebrate what God has done and is doing through us, while focusing our attention, our energy and our resources on the future God has planned for us.”

The webcast is anticipated to draw 1,500 active participants.

The first hour will consist of presentations by the Council of Bishops and representatives of the Call to Action Steering Team, followed by an hour of guided conversation among participants in their own locations. During the final hour, the Nashville presenters will respond to email questions posed by leaders around the world.

It is preferred that people gather in groups with a trained facilitator to help guide the conversation during the middle hour of the summit. Bishops may organize as many sites as needed in their annual conferences. Additionally, any individual may participate by logging on to www.umcleadershipsummit.org. Questions may be sent to Summitquestions@umc.org.

“This experience of holy conferencing is a witness to hope and a commitment to bear fruit worthy of our calling,” Alexander said. 

“United Methodists on four continents will be linked together by the Internet to worship and pray, turn our attention to God and commit together to reshape The United Methodist Church for ministry in the 21st century.”

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.