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Principles For Discerning Plans For Worldwide Restructuring

Connectional Table (CT) Essential Functions #1 and #21 focus upon CT’s role and responsibility to communicate and enable communication across the connection on matters related to our mission, vision and values as The United Methodist Church. We are united by the Holy Spirit, our faith in God, and the recognition of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Through every season, which has come and gone since our gathering at General Conference in Tampa, Florida, in 2012 as the United Methodist family, we all have had the opportunity to reflect on our experiences at that General Conference. At that gathering many emotions and feelings were experienced — joy, fear, jubilance, disappointment, hope, despair, surprise, confirmation, tranquility, confrontation, acceptance, rejection, calm and anxiety. There is no denial by the Connectional Table that as we live into our existence as a worldwide church, that we have many views of who we are, who we are to be in God’s eyes and how we collectively achieve those aspirations.

Currently there are multiple formal and informal proposals that address different aspects of our future structure, organization, relationships and processes to be followed that seek to lead us on a path forward as Spirit-filled United Methodists inspired to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The Connectional Table, as a body, neither adopts nor endorses any of these proposals, but finds its role as the place in our denomination focused on suggesting principles by which we discuss, approach, engage and make decisions on matters relating to our future structure, organization, relationships, and processes followed.

The Connectional Table suggests that this is an exciting and challenging time for the people called United Methodist and The United Methodist Church. With God’s leading, we encourage all of our members and those engaged in helping to shape and guide our progression into a “new thing” to:

  • Not act in haste and allow God to order our steps;
  • Welcome the movement of the Holy Spirit and be open to new revelations; 
  • Engage in meaningful discernment with active listening;
  • Respect our differences and embrace our commonalities;
  • Be intentionally inclusive of all aspects of our global church
  • Be mindful of the impact that process has on God’s people
  • Be willing to reposition the prism through which one views the world
  • Engage in radical openness to foster genuine cooperation
  • Do no harm.

With these principles before us, the Connectional Table offers counsel about being methodical, inclusive and patient in fashioning our journey and choosing our destination. The shaping of who we profess to be in this world must be accompanied by making every attempt to consider all those factors, institutions, structures and most importantly — people that will necessarily be impacted by efforts to seek a refreshed and relevant United Methodist Church aimed at embracing the missional direction which God as laid before us.  The work of the Connectional Table this current quadrennium has engaged in efforts to first understand how our Church is configured in the many places where United Methodists are gathered. This attempt to educate the CT has allowed us to engage in essential and detailed work. Some examples of that work include:

  • The worldwide nature of our denomination and the implications, which arise subsequently;
  • What is and is not necessary for the worldwide Church as we examine and reconsider the
  • Book of Discipline and evaluate its maturation into a General Book of Discipline;
  • Working on process to fully and carefully address questions arising related to the jurisdictional structure of the United States and how we harmonize that into the worldwide reality with which we have been blessed; and
  • Gaining the assistance and wisdom from the General Board of Church and Society on the review and reshaping of the Social Principles.

Therefore, we encourage adoption of the principles and concepts that we have prayerfully offered above.

Approved by the Connectional Table on May 19, 2015.

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1 The Connectional Table essential functions are listed in Paragraph 905 of the 2012 Book of Discipline.