The Call to Action is an invitation to all United Methodists around the world to participate in the adventure of becoming a New Church. The most important steps will not result from legislative action at General Conference or in annual conferences. Instead, they will require different actions and patterns of leadership by bishops, clergy, and laity. These changes must be grounded deeply in the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting. These changes have already begun, and the Call to Action is already starting to be employed in many congregations and conferences.
All are invited to:
• Grow vital congregations that will make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world;
• Demonstrate courageous turnaround leadership that helps to open the church to the work of the Holy Spirit and transformational change;
• Take risks; experiment in ministry as we go to the margins of society to minister with the poor, immigrants, prisoners, and the homeless, as well as with the non-religious and nominally religious people in all communities;
• Unite as one; develop deeper trust so that together we embrace our adaptive spiritual challenges;
Set visionary goals and support one another as we eagerly experiment, innovate, adapt to changing circumstances and regularly account for our ministries.
However, there are several recommendations stemming from the Call to Action that WILL require legislation at General Conference. Recommendations include:
1. Give more freedom for annual conferences to organize for their particular contexts
Connectional Table legislation: The CT proposes changes to several paragraphs including ¶¶613, 629, 630, 634, 637, 641, 643, and 644 that currently require annual conferences to model their structures after general agencies. These changes allow annual conferences more flexibility in deciding appropriate structures for addressing the key ministry functions.
2. Revise guaranteed appointments
Study of Ministry Commission legislation: This legislation supports the Call to Action recommendation toward a greater emphasis on missionally driven appointment making. In a missional appointment a clergyperson exhibits accountability, character, servant leadership, and effectiveness and the congregation/ministry setting advocates and monitors for the prophetic voice and inclusion of women and ethnic persons in pastoral leadership. Security of appointment, commonly called guaranteed appointment, has become a barrier to fulfilling the church’s mission. Security of appointment:
• Limits the ability of the church to respond to the primacy of missional needs.
• Sometimes emphasizes the clergyperson’s needs instead of focusing on the church’s mission.
• Restricts flexibility of appointments.
• Is not financially sustainable, as it does not allow for the unequal supply of clergy related to available appointments.
The legislation proposes changes to ¶¶321, 334, 337, 338, 354 and 355.
3. Create one program board and an oversight council
Connectional Table legislation: This petition rewrites ¶704 to propose a new structure for a Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry and a General Council for Strategy and Oversight. Several additional paragraphs throughout the petition address the proposed changes in general agency governance.
4. Select an Executive General Secretary to guide program staff
Connectional Table legislation: The CT petition proposes the creation of an Executive General Secretary position as articulated in the proposed ¶904.
5. Revise role of President of the Council of Bishops
Council of Bishops legislation: This constitutional amendment seeks to establish a position for a full-time non-residential bishop to serve as president of the Council of Bishops for a four-year term. The petition is to amend ¶49. More information is available in this Non-Residential Bishop Fact Sheet (PDF).
6. Reallocate up to $60 million from World Service and General Administration for increasing the number of vital congregations.
Connectional Table legislation: This constitutional amendment seeks to amend ¶16.9 in order to allow General Conference to authorize and empower other church units or bodies to raise and distribute funds necessary to carry out the work of the Church. The Connectional Table also submitted a resolution that outlines how up to $60 million could be reallocated toward vital congregations in the 2013-2016 quadrennium.