2011 State of the Church: Ministries
Following the 2004 General Conference, leaders across the denomination engaged in discussions around what God is calling us to do and to be today, individually and as a people called United Methodist. Leaders sought answers to the questions:
- What is faithful discipleship in our time?
- How do we as a community of faith fulfill the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?
When United Methodist bishops across the connection shared with each other the strong, vital ministries throughout annual conferences, several areas of ministry emerged as common expressions of our Wesleyan heritage. Leaders from the general agencies and the Connectional Table continued to engage in conversation, which moved us to clarify our mission and center our ministries in Four Areas of Focus:
- Develop principled Christian leaders for the Church and the world;
- Create new places for new people and renew existing congregations;
- Engage in ministry with the poor; and
- Combat the diseases of poverty by improving health globally.
The Four Areas of Focus continue to be a source of inspiration and are providing measurable results at all levels of the Church.
Developing Principled Christian Leaders
The Dakotas Conference created a new position to provide leadership development to clergy and laity year-round. In the Pacific Northwest Conference, a new comprehensive leadership model is bringing together children’s ministry, youth ministry, college-campus ministries and other ministry areas to build a holistic approach to fulfilling the Church’s mission. In the East Angola Annual Conference, where training pastors is a top priority, 35 pastors were trained in 2007. In 2010, the number grew to 121 pastors trained. There are 112 United Methodist-related institutions of higher education approved by the University Senate, including seminaries, colleges and universities, two-year colleges and a professional school. In 2008, they enrolled 337,221 students. On average, 95 percent of the students received tuition grant aid.
New and Renewed Places
From 2008 to the present, 341 new faith communities have been started around the world, an estimated eight new churches per month. Nearly 2,000 people have taken an online spiritual gifts assessment offered by Path 1, a new church start initiative of the Church. Since 2009, 163 new faith congregations and fellowships have been started across Asia, Latin America, Africa and Central Asia/Europe. The Council of Bishops has convened a Transformation Table, including pastors and annual conference church developers, to determine what can be done now to increase the number of vital congregations.
Ministry with the Poor
A network of 45 church and community workers in 23 annual conferences has been trained as advocates for the poor. Six pilot projects have been implemented to respond to poverty in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States. The projects include community development and training in sustainable agriculture, hygiene and clean water projects. A new Ministry with the Poor website will be launched in May 2011 to expand training and provide news, successful models and educational and worship resources.
Through The United Methodist Church’s work in Africa, nearly 500,000 insecticide-treated bed nets have been distributed to protect vulnerable populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. More than $15 million has been raised through the Imagine No Malaria effort.