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United Methodist Council of Bishops Plans Retreat November 4-9

Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
100 Maryland Ave. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

October 31, 2012

Nashville, Tenn United Methodist bishops from Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S. will gather at a United Methodist retreat center, Epworth-by-the-Sea, on St. Simons Island, Ga., November 4-9 to lay the foundation for the Council of Bishops' work over the next four years.

"We are seeking to enable each other to become a team of spiritual leaders in The United Methodist Church, guiding the church in staying focused on the adaptive challenge of strengthening vitality in congregations throughout the world," said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council. "We have to become more outwardly focused, serving a divided world by living in unity in Christ even though we are not one minded on many divisive questions."

The Council's first meeting of the quadrennium is traditionally more of a spiritual retreat than their regular business meetings. More time is allotted for reflection and discernment, much of which will occur through a series of guided conversations in which they will look at the role of the Council in moving the church forward. Attendance at the meeting is limited to bishops, their spouses and limited staff.

The Council of Bishops has created new leadership teams that connect with the Four Areas of Focus and the general agencies to coordinate the work, the mission, and the adaptive challenge of the Council and for the church. Bishops serve on one of the nine teams, which will meet for the first time next week. The teams are: congregational vitality, missional engagement, leadership development, justice and reconciliation, faith and order, ecumenical relations, leadership discernment, council life together, and finance. The previous standing committees, committees and task groups of the Council were discontinued and incorporated into the new teams.

The 2012 General Conference voted to dissolve the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns effective January 1, and established an Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relations within the Council to give leadership in this effort. The bishops will discern how to implement the change to encourage relationships with other faith communities so that people throughout the world might live in greater unity.

In years past, the Council of Bishops has usually met in spring and fall. Beginning in 2013, the Council will meet once annually to advance the mission of the whole church, and a Forum of Active Bishops will be established for developing leadership and building a learning community of those engaged in active episcopal leadership. The bishops are committed to help each other to increase the number of vital congregations in their areas.

The leadership teams will also meet and take action as needed throughout the year. The chairpersons of the various teams will serve on the executive committee, along with the Council's president, president-designate, immediate past president, secretary, executive secretary, ecumenical officer and the chair of the Connectional Table.

The Council's next meeting will be May 5-8, 2013 in San Diego. The Forum of Active Bishops will take place after that meeting May 9-10, 2013 at the same location.


About the Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 12 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.


Media contact:
Diane Degnan
615-742-5406 (office)
615-483-1765 (cell)