Spring Council of Bishops

Tomorrow morning, I will fly to St. Simons Island, Georgia for the spring meeting of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.  We, that is – the Council of Bishops or COB, meet twice a year (the first week in November and the first week in May).  While most people focus on our responsibility for a particular Conference where we serve as resident bishop, the “job description” of a United Methodist Bishop includes shared oversight of the church as a whole.  On becoming a bishop, I quickly learned a short summary of how a bishop’s time was spent from Bishop Monk Bryan – 1/3 of the time in the resident Conference in the office;1/3 of the time in the resident Conference out of the office in the various churches and institutional settings; 1/3 of the time engaged in General Church work, most often out of town (and usually out of state). At this COB meeting we will continue to focus on the Call to Action report and the ongoing work with the Four Focus Areas.  I carry specific responsibility for the Focus Area on “New Places for New People and Transformation/Renewal of Existing Congregations.”  In my report I will be sharing that we have started 421 new churches in the United States (with a goal of 650 for the quadrennium).  45% of those new churches are predominately ethnic minority plants.  While we do not have reliable data on the Central Conferences (outside the U.S.), new church planting and growth is multiplying at a Holy Spirit-led rate.  In the “New Places for New People” report, we will share a tentative definition of a transformed congregation from the work of the Transformational Table:  “A transforming congregation is a growing community of committed disciples of Jesus Christ, constantly compelled by the Holy Spirit to go beyond its current reach of ministry into the broader mission field.” Together at the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, we will worship and pray, discuss and wrestle with issues facing the church.  I ask you to join us in prayer for the United Methodist Church and our mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”