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United Methodist Bishops Take Significant Steps to Place Strong Focus On Making Disciples, Transform

Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
Bishop Roy I. Sano Executive Secretary
100 Maryland Ave. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-6270

Nov. 9, 2004

Contact: Stephen Drachler
(615) 742-5411 office
(615) 456-4710 cell

United Methodist Bishops Take Significant Steps to Place Strong
Focus On Making Disciples, Transforming
World During 2005-2008 Quadrennium

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. United Methodist bishops are taking steps to place an extraordinary focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ and transforming the world during the 2005-2008 quadrennium.

Meeting at Epworth by the Sea, a church-owned retreat center on the southern Georgia coast, bishops from the United States, Africa, Europe, and Asia affirmed a one-and-a-half-page strategy document listing steps they will begin taking to assume a larger leadership role across the church.

"We are making it clear that bishops are in alignment with the mission of the church," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, of Houston, who is president-elect of the Council, following the meeting.

One hundred thirty active and retired bishops, including 22 newly elected bishops, spent the bulk of the Oct. 31- Nov. 5 meeting in small and large group discussions on the strategy. Daily worship focused on the mission, unity, and role of bishops as leaders of the church.

Retired Bishop Kenneth W. Hicks of Little Rock, Ark., stepped to the microphone during the final discussion of the strategy and declared he was "tickled as a pig with two tails" with the approach the council is taking.

Each active bishop will prepare a one-page summary of their plans for disciple making in annual (regional) conferences. These plans will be shared during the Council's May 1-6, 2005 meeting in Washington, D.C. Summaries are to include methods for measuring results and suggestions on how active and retired bishops can be supportive and accountable to each other.

Other elements of the strategy include:

  • Continuing the council's emphasis on Children and Poverty and the funding appeal related to Hope for the Children of Africa throughout the 2005-2008 quadrennium.
  • Examining ways to effectively use the teaching plan offered by the Council during the Episcopal Address at the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh. Bishops said the plan would support their commitment to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  • Expanding the use of best practices seminars that was initiated at Epworth by the Sea.
  • Developing a multi-media presentation to effectively explain and interpret the Council's leadership effort in annual conferences and across the world. The presentation will be a "biblical and theological vision" reflecting images from worship during the November 2004 meeting, the Council's teaching paper on security, its address to the General Conference, and the Book of Discipline's statements on disciple-making.

The Executive Committee was directed to outline plans for implementing and creating ways the council will be accountable at the spring 2005 meeting. A planning team is being created to implement the steps outlined in the strategy document.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough of Columbus, Ohio, a member of the team that coordinated development of the strategy, emphasized the document "is not the final word. It expresses the spirit of unity and communicates the essence of where we are headed."

Bishops will share the strategy with district superintendents and local churches. The council's executive committee will share it with general agency secretaries and with the members of the denomination's new Connectional Table before they meet in early 2005. It will also be shared with the denomination's seminaries.