The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops (COB) of The United Methodist Church held its annual January meeting on the 13th and 14th in Dallas, Texas. They shared devotions, heard reports and took actions on a number of items in their quest to lead the church in "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
THE GLOBAL NATURE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH was celebrated as preparations are being made for the next COB meeting in Berlin, Germany, May 1-7, 2015. There will be worship and fellowship times with German United Methodists, and other Christians. The Council will engage with vital congregations and missions in that area. A report was also presented on the new "Global Book of Discipline" which is being developed by the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters, as requested by the 2012 General Conference, for presentation to the 2016 General Conference.
A report from a team of seven bishops and sixteen young people, who have just visited India and the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church of India (MCI), stimulated very fruitful conversations about the future of "relationship-building" with the MCI and the many "autonomous, affiliated" churches of The United Methodist Church around the world.
DEVELOPING MORE VITAL CONGREGATIONS and the next steps the COB can take in helping to lead annual conferences as they resource local churches in this "adaptive challenge" were central on the agenda along with the progress that is being made in the Four Areas of Focus: 1) Creating New Places for New People; 2) Developing Principled Christian Leaders; 3) Engaging in Ministry with the Poor; 4) and Improving Health Globally. The outstanding response to "Imagine No Malaria" was celebrated as we near reaching the 75 million dollar goal that was set.
A JUST RESOLUTION was reported in the complaint that was, with the encouragement of the COB, filed concerning Bishop Melvin Talbert. There was great appreciation for all who worked diligently to reach the resolution and release it publicly. Bishop Talbert and members of the complaint process acknowledged harm felt by others and a willingness to live within the Book of Discipline. Several suggestions were also made for the work of the COB Task Force on Human Sexuality, Race and Gender.
THE CHURCH'S LIFE AND MISSION TOGETHER IN THE 2017-2020 QUADRENNIUM was also the subject of several items on the agenda including a proposed gathering of bishops and extended cabinet members from around the world early in the next quadrennium for spiritual centering and strategic sharing as we prepare to serve as God leads us into the future.
As the meeting concluded, Bishop Warner Brown, President of the COB, invited the bishops and the whole church to be in prayer for each other as we seek to be faithful to God and Christ's Gospel for all throughout the world.