Amid reports on institutional angst and anguish (including the recent letter from the Council of Bishops) what is often lost is the great good news of tremendous ministry taking place through the United Methodist Connection. Friends, there are some really great things happening in mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ through the United Methodist Connection. Great news that came out of the Council of Bishops includes (but are not limited to!): 1.News that we have taken a giant leap towards our goal of raising $75 million to fight the killer disease with Imagine No Malaria. 2. In our focus in establishing Vital Congregations through “New Places for New People,” the UMC Connection has blown past our benchmark goals.
- We can celebrate that with just 37 conferences reporting so far, there are 91 new church plants for 2013. The Western Jurisdiction has already doubled the amount of church plants from the previous year. So far we are planting in the United States approximately 11 new churches per month. Our total number of new churches since 2008 is 776!
- East Africa alone reports 442 new churches or faith communities. The General Board of Global Ministries reports that we have started more than 574 new congregations outside the US since 2008 through Mission Initiatives. We now have more new faith communities (“New Places for New People”) in Vietnam than we have churches in Minnesota!
- Our Congregational Vitality Initiative transforming existing congregations into robust, vital congregations for the 21st Century is succeeding. Bishop John Schol (lead Bishop on the Vital Congregations project, which is a part of the Focus Area on “New Places for New People”) reports an increase in the number of vital congregations in the United Methodist Church in the United States. This is based on both a critical review of the metrics (worship attendance, mission engagement, professions of faith, small groups for bible study and spiritual formation, and extravagant generosity) and the developing pattern of metrics reports. This is really great news!
- “I am very pleased to announce that United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has approved your grant request up to the amount of $200,000 U.S. Dollars for Continued Recovery West Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion 2013 from November 1, 2013 to November 1, 2015.”
- “I am very pleased to announce that United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has approved your grant request up to the amount of $200,000 U.S. Dollars for Granbury Tornado Continued Response 2013 from November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2015.”