2011 State of the Church: Introduction
It is with great joy we bring you the 2011 State of the Church Report, an annual snapshot of The United Methodist Church. There is much to celebrate in the life of the Church, and we are awed by the remarkable ways God is at work through the lives of the millions of people around the world, the people called United Methodist.
We celebrate news from the General Council on Finance and Administration that, in the United States, congregations reported nearly 280,000 persons enrolled in discipleship groups, more than one million children participated in vacation Bible schools, and more than 15 million persons were served by community ministries of outreach or justice or mercy. In the central conferences of the Philippines, Europe and Africa, the latest figures show professing church members number 4.4 million strong. Praise God!
In the past year, we have experienced unprecedented collaboration at many levels of the Church. Discussions at the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table about direction, accountability and vitality have provided church leadership with a new road map for reform. As we work toward reordering the life of the Church, we will build on and strengthen our ministry in the Four Areas of Focus, continuing to fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Our current direction is based on research and findings in the Call to Action report. We are grateful for the important work of the Call to Action Steering Team for helping us see our path more clearly. Within these pages, you will learn more about the context of our shared future and the benefits we will all witness as we become focused and centered on creating vital congregations. (See pages 6 and 7.)
Many of you have given significant input to the Call to Action report and we thank you. Ongoing dialogue will be critical to making real change in our Church’s life and work. We will keep you apprised of ways you can continue to join the conversation. (See page 8.)
We hope this report will inform you about our life together in The United Methodist Church and offer inspiration for the journey ahead. We know both the opportunities and the challenges before us are great, but, thankfully, so is our God. As Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God. ” Matthew 19:26 (CEB).
Bishop Larry Goodpaster
President, Council of Bishops
Bishop John Hopkins
Chair, Connectional Table
Bishop Lindsey Davis
President, General Council
on Finance and Administration