A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin.
Delegate Samulondo Matelo rises to ask a question during the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. International delegates can find the proceedings difficult to understand because of language and decision-making barriers.
The committee to study the worldwide identity of The United Methodist Church, known colloquially as the Global Nature study, has delivered much less than was anticipated when the study was authorized by the 2008 General Conference.
Instead of providing a clear roadmap that would adjust the current U.S.-centric governance to a more equitable international power structure, the study committee submitted a series of proposals intended to shift attitudes and perceptions of how a global governance structure might be created.
According to an announcement on its website, the 20-member committee offered a series of proposals to the 2012 General Conference:
- Incorporate a new worldwide United Methodist Church covenant and litany into the Book of Discipline.
- Create a new global Book of Discipline that specifies what decisions the General Conference makes, and which areas of ministry and organization are adaptable by Central Conferences.
- Clarify how general agencies function in a worldwide rather than United States-centric church.
- More clearly model the concept of Wesleyan "holy conferencing" in a worldwide church. "Holy conferencing" is a discernment process that works more on discursive consensus than on parliamentary procedure, which has been politically divisive and often confusing to international delegates to General Conference.
- Set in motion a process for annual conferences to study a proposed new model for a worldwide church that may result in petitions for greater structural change at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, OR.
The committee plans an interactive presentation for the full General Conference involving live and videotaped presentations, and guided group conversations about the existing worldwide nature of the denomination and how it can move forward.
Information from the committee press release was used in this report.