Friday, May 4, 2012

Restructure Items

General Conference has made some potential changes to the workings of our denomination in order to be more nimble.  As I feared, lots of these initiatives have lost the strength they had when we walked in the door five months ago ten days ago, but that is the beauty of compromise.  A group of people who had two different plans for restructure came together to draft Plan UMC.  This happened after the General Administration committee had no plan to come forward with for restructure because they voted down all three potential plans by a tight margin.  It was definitely an interesting committee to hear about afterwards!  No one got exactly what they wanted, but we have made progress.  Here is what the "restructure" of the church will look like in general.

Taken from planumc.org
It is more streamlined, and hopefully will make sense in the future.  There was also discussion of having the president of the council of bishops (which already exists) cease from being appointed to an annual conference, in order to serve the whole church better. This petition was defeated.

We also brought to an end "guaranteed appointments", a term that doesn't actually exist in the Book of Discipline.  As you may know, elders in the church are promised an appointment at a local church as long as they are faithful to the the Book of Discipline. Currently, there is no streamlined way to exit ineffective elders in the church.  Annual conferences already can get rid of elders who are doing active damage to the church.  However, the gist of this legislation helps deal with the pastors who are consistently doing harm to more than one appointment (I read in one place that the definition of "ineffective" is having three consecutive churches ask for their pastor to be removed).  In many places, ineffective pastors are placed again and again because they haven't done anything disastrous but they have hurt numerous churches.  We have a regular practice of keeping damaging pastors in the system, rather than gracefully moving them out.  This legislation was amended to add great safeguards in place - the bishop or district would NOT act alone but with a group of people who would work with people around this issue.  Here is a wonderful article about what was done.

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