Bishops to consider accountability covenant

Bishops to consider accountability covenant

March 08, 2016

The Council of Bishops Accountability Task Force has recommended adoption of a “covenant of accountability” by the Council of Bishops. The task force invited bishops to prayerfully consider how the covenant might guide and shape their ministry now and in the future.

The Council will consider action on the proposed covenant, which is based on discussion from the bishops’ 2015 meeting, work of the task force and further input by the executive committee, at their May meeting preceding General Conference.

“The covenant is rooted in our consecration vows and descriptive of how we intend to fulfill those vows and provide spiritual leadership before, during, and after General Conference," said Bishop Larry Goodpaster, who chairs the task force.

The bishops reaffirmed those vows in November 2014 at the invitation of Council president Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. during his presidential address.

The Accountability Task Force was created in May 2013 to provide for an accountability process. Members of the task force are Bishop Larry Goodpaster, Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., Bishop Janice Huie, Bishop Peggy Johnson, Bishop Gregory Palmer, Bishop Hans Vaxby, and Bishop Peter Weaver.

The proposed covenant reads as follows:

A Covenant of Accountability for the Council of Bishops
Bishops of the church are spiritual leaders who are set apart by the church to lead with hope in our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. The vows which each bishop affirmed at her or his consecration continue to guide and shape our ministry.  We as a Council have affirmed this commitment to our vows. The heart of those commitments are found in these statements from the Service of Consecration. We vow and commit ourselves…
  • “…to guard the faith, to seek the unity, and to exercise the discipline of the whole Church….”
  • “…to preach and teach the truth of the gospel to all God’s people…”
  • “…to lead the people…in their mission of witness and service in the world….”
  • “…to lead and guide all persons entrusted to [our] care….”
(The complete Order for the Consecration of Bishops may be found in The United Methodist Book of Worship, pages 698-710.)

As we prepare for the 2016 General Conference, we join together in a covenant that is rooted in our consecration vows and that outlines how we intend to fulfill those vows and provide spiritual leadership prior to, during, and after General Conference.

By God’s grace we, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, covenant together to…
  • Honor God, follow Jesus, and lead relying upon the Holy Spirit in all we say and do.
  • Be in prayer for the General Conference, the delegates and visitors.
  • Work for the unity of the church.
  • Show respect for all persons.
  • Offer pastoral care to and with anyone.
  • Carry out our presidential duties in a manner that enables the work of the General Conference to be conducted in an orderly and non-disruptive manner.
  • Be guided by the clear intent of The Book of Discipline as we fulfill our vows to “…guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the church.” (¶403.1)
  • “…plan for the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference.” (¶47)
  • Grow as spiritual leaders who offer passion, clarity, hope and imagination to the church as we are fully engaged in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  • Order our lives and leadership in the firm conviction as stated by John Wesley: “the best of all is, God is with us.”
We pledge to hold each other accountable for living out this covenant and to seek the support and prayers of the entire church.