FROM THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE NOVEMBER, 2011 MEETING OF THE COUNCIL
To our sisters and brothers, disciples of Jesus Christ and members of The United Methodist Church around the world: Grace and peace to you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
More than 110 active and retired members of the Council of Bishops gathered at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina from Sunday, October 30 through Friday, November 4. The week was centered on our life together and our council leadership for the mission of the church, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. "Ecclesiology" was a theme that ran through much of the week as the bishops entered into conversation about the theology, nature, mission, and character of the church for the twenty-first century.
As is our custom, we began our week together with an inspiring service of worship at the First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, NC, remembering two bishops (Abel Muzorewa and Monk Bryan) and two spouses of bishops (Marion Clark and Milah McDavid) who have entered the Church Triumphant. The Memorial Service sets a holy context for a week of meetings and decision-making on behalf of the mission of the church. The Council always frames its work with worship and prayer, as we begin each day with prayer, praise, preaching, Scripture, Holy Communion, and covenant groups. Throughout each day there were moments of prayer as we lived out our role as spiritual and temporal leaders within the church and practiced worshipful work.
The primary agenda item for most of the first three days focused on the report and proposals of the Call to Action Interim Operations Team. Following a report from the team, members of the Council engaged in deep conversations about the proposed reconfiguring of the church in order to direct the flow of attention, energy and resources toward developing vital congregations. Concerns were expressed and questions raised and the dialog was frank and honest. The Council voted overwhelming, with only two negative votes, to affirm and embrace the recommendations from the Interim Operations Team.
In other actions and work of the week, the members of the Council:
By the end of the week, and the closing worship service on Friday morning, the bishops were confident and hopeful about the future of the church under the guidance and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. The bishops returned to their assignments renewed in their commitment to serve Christ and guide the church toward achieving the mission. The Council will next gather a few days before the start of the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Florida, and will remain in prayer and fasting for the General Conference and for the many delegates and visitors who will make their journey to that gathering.