Regionalization Legislation Petitions Submitted to General Conference
During an August 19, 2023, meeting, The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters unanimously approved worldwide regionalism legislation for submission to General Conference 2024. This legislation had also been supported for submission by the Connectional Table at its July 13 meeting.
The regionalization legislation aims to provide equity throughout the regions of The United Methodist Church with the intention of de-centralizing the influence of the United States on General Conference. Emphasizing the United Methodist theology of connectionalism, it provides for contextualized ministry and mission throughout the church.
As noted in the worldwide regionalism legislation submission:
- Eight petitions are to be submitted to General Conference. These petitions create Regional Conferences around the world. In regions with a Central Conference, the Regional Conference will replace the Central Conference. In places without a Central Conference, a Regional Conference will be established. These petitions also establish the rights, duties, power, and privileges of the Regional Conferences. These petitions give Regional Conferences legislative powers so that they can be more nimble and increase their missional impact in their region.
- It also includes the creation of The United States Regional Conference, comprising the five jurisdictions. This plan includes the creation of a committee of the General Conference for US regional matters, as well as the Interim Committee on Organization to organize and plan for the establishment and functioning of a new United States Regional Conference. Both the legislative committee and the organizing committee will dissolve at the first Regional Conference of the United States.
In the same spirit of connectionalism, this legislation was made possible by the collaborative work of the writers of the Christmas Covenant, Connectional Table, and The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters to arrive at the current legislation.
“Our proposed legislation is about relevance, equity and trust," noted Bishop Harald Rückert, Co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. "To be more relevant to the people in our various contexts, we need freedom to shape our churches accordingly. To become a truly worldwide church, we need to do away with inequity. To stay together as a connectional church, we need trust rather than detailed regulations. The concept of regionalization promotes the mission of our United Methodist Church - through relevance, equity, and trust.”
"Regionalization is a way forward to keep the UMC alive and relevant in a worldwide context. It addresses the mandate of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20 'Go and make disciples of all nations.' It keeps us connected in mission as we proclaim the gospel in our respective context. Faith is the foundation of our mission as we go and make disciples of all nations," shared Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco, Co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters.
“Collaborating on the concept of regionalization has been an opportunity to address our ecclesiological problem while seeking to uphold our Wesleyan values and missional identity. As noted in the 2016 Book of Discipline ¶31.1, the purpose of the creation of central conferences was ‘To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary, social-concern, and benevolent interests and institutions of the Church, within their own boundaries.’ The shift from Central Conference to Regional Conference is a recognition of the maturity of the current central conferences which were once mission points of the then missionary sending churches in the US. Regional Conferences bring a sense of equity where God's mission is lived with a sense of mutuality while witnessing to the Incarnate Christ in various contextual realities. No Region can claim to be the center and others the peripheries, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ remains the center of God's mission,” said Bishop Mande Muyombo, Chair of the Connectional Table.
“When institutional and grassroots United Methodists gather together and agree on common understandings with God's love as its foundation to strengthen the reformation of The United Methodist Church, great harmony and results are possible,” added Karen Prudente, a writer of the Christmas Covenant.
“Together our relationships and connections are stronger when we meet as one body of Christ. Worldwide regionalization is one way enabling God's love in action.”
The legislation will be before the postponed 2020 General Conference, set for April 23-May 3, 2024, at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
About the Connectional Table
The Connectional Table works to steward the mission, vision, and ministries of The United Methodist Church. For more information, please visit www.umcct.org
About the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters
The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters has received a mandate to review legislation to help the General Conference ensure that the Book of Discipline reflects the Wesleyan way of serving Christ through doctrine and disciplined Christian life in the worldwide United Methodist Church as reflected in the structure and supervision of The Central Conference ministries in Africa, Asia and Europe. Learn more about the committee on the Global Ministries www.umcmission.org/standing-committee-on-central-conference-matters
About the Christmas Covenant
The Christmas Covenant is a set of legislation and constitutional amendments submitted to The United Methodist Church’s (UMC) General Conference with the goal of establishing regional equity in the structures of the church for missional effectiveness while sustaining connectional unity. Get details: www.christmascovenant.com.