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Connectional Table: Preparing for 2016 General Conference

During its May 2015 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the Connectional Table approved proposed legislation dealing with topics such as the worldwide nature of the church, the restructuring of the Connectional Table, the budget for the 2017-2020 quadrennium, and the ammendment of language about same-sex marriage and ordination in the Book of Discipline. 

Missional Direction

The Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops continue to refine a vision for the next quadrennium that includes partnering with schools to help end poverty, starting new faith communities, building a culture of call, reaching children with life-saving interventions, and equipping congregations with disciple-making processes to continue making new disciples and increasing the number of vital congregations. This missional direction carries forward with the four Areas of Focus and continues the emphasis on creating vital congregations, while providing flexibility for local churches and annual conferences to adapt as needed for their communities.

 

Quadrennial Report to General Conference

This report highlights how the work of the Connectional Table over the 2013–2016 quadrennium has led to significant progress in fostering a culture shift from a US-centric denomination to one that is truly global; ensuring a level of accountability across the denomination toward assessing ministries and making adjustments to meet the needs of our church and our world; and discerning a collective vision for even greater missional impact in the future. 

 

Worldwide Nature: General Church Council

The Connectional Table (CT) will submit non-disciplinary legislation to define a process for restructuring the CT by 2020 into a “General Church Council” that exemplifies the diversity of our connection. The Connectional Table believes that any restructuring of the church should be delayed until 2020 and has a plan to use the intervening four-year period to create a structure that helps our denomination achieve its mission in an increasingly interconnected, intergenerational, worldwide context.

 

Worldwide Nature: Jurisdictional Process 

Even as The United Methodist Church works toward living as a worldwide church, some issues are relevant only to the United States, while other issues are relevant only to the Central Conference. The Connectional Table approved a process that addresses recommendation #2 and recommendation #3 from the Worldwide Nature Study Committee Report from 2012. for the handling of U.S.-related matters only. The Connectional Table will submit non-disciplinary legislation at General Conference 2016 defining a process that gathers all U.S. jurisdictions together to discuss where the United States will make decisions on U.S. matters beyond the proposed General Book of Discipline.   

 

Worldwide Nature: Principles for Discerning Plans for Worldwide Restructuring

John Wesley’s three general rules of do no harm, do all the good we can and stay in love with God top a list of principles the Connectional Table approved on May 18, 2015 as a guide for discerning the most effective and appropriate structures for The United Methodist Church as it continues to grow as a worldwide denomination.

 

2017–2020 Quadrennial Budget Proposal for the 2016 General Conference

On May 19, 2015, the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration approved the submission of a $611 million budget proposal to General Conference 2016, with the amount to be apportioned across the denomination through seven funds to support ministries and services of the general church. The funds will support the missional direction of The UMC to create vital congregations through ministries in the four Areas of Focus.

 

A Third Way

The Connectional Table voted on May 18, 2015, to submit proposed legislation to the 2016 General Conference to remove prohibitive language from The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality, while making only minor changes to the existing Social Principles.

Being referenced as “A Third Way,” the proposed legislation would allow United Methodist clergy to perform ceremonies that celebrate same-sex unions in United Methodist churches if they wish; clergy who do not wish to perform such ceremonies would not be required to do so. The proposal also removes being a practicing homosexual or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies from the list of chargeable offenses for clergy. In addition, the proposal removes the language that says that church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers it incompatible with Christian teachings, while recognizing this has historically been the position of the church.

"A Third Way" is posted here as an omnibus piece of legislation. The Connectional Table will submit this legislation to the petition secretary of General Conference as an omnibus piece of legislation and as four individual petitions.