The bishops of The United Methodist Church met in Chicago this April to celebrate leadership through the passing of the gavel, certify constitutional amendments and finalize their recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.
Another item on the agenda was the leadership reports regarding immigration, ecumenical relations, racism, disaster relief and other mission and ministry work around the global denomination.
"As leaders of the church who are given the mandate to provide oversight to the global denomination, we take our responsibilities seriously and we are diligently working to provide leadership at this critical time in the life of The United Methodist Church," outgoing COB President Bishop Bruce R. Ough said.
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The three major issues discussed in the meeting were:
- The election of new COB officers. Bishop Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, who has led the Council of Bishops (COB) since the 2016 General Conference, handed over the gavel to Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Area.
Bishop Carter, who has served as one of the moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward, was elected president at the November meeting of the bishops. Other new COB officers are Bishop Cynthia Harvey of Louisiana who will be the president-designate and Bishop Mande Muyombo of North Katanga who will be the secretary. These three bishops together with COB Executive Secretary Bishop Marcus Matthews, COB Ecumenical Officer Bishop Michael B. Watson and Bishop Ough, as the immediate past president, will be the executive officers for 2018-2020.
- Certification of Constitutional Amendments. The five proposed constitutional amendments are as follows:
- The first proposed amendment proposes a new paragraph between current ¶ 5 and ¶ 6.
- The second proposed constitutional amendment changes the wording in ¶ 4 in The Book of Discipline.
- The third proposed amendment deals with the election of delegates to the general conference as contained in ¶ 34.
- The fourth proposed amendment clarifies the time of election of bishops in Central Conferences as contained in ¶ 46.
- The fifth proposed amendment adds language to ¶50 regarding how the Council of Bishops holds its individual members accountable for their work.
- And final recommendations for the 2019 Special Session which has been set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Commission on a Way Forward submitted the final report of recommendations to the bishops on proposed ways forward for the global denomination regarding its division.
Contrary to some voices in the church that assume closure and that the work is already completed, the Commission indicated that there was still robust conversation taking place through the denomination. Members of the Commission noted that the UMC will continue to discuss the public and private mission of the church and the value of convicted humility.
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga, Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
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