Directors of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) of The United Methodist Church met in Nashville, Tennessee in August to celebrate partnerships and begin the process of discussing how the church can reach more people.
In her opening remarks, the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, general secretary of GBOD, reminded board members that "there are people out there who are asking, who are seeking, and who are knocking." She asked, "How can the board prioritize its work to answer these people?"
GBOD's board of directors recognized the planting of 125 new churches already this year, with a goal of training 1,000 new church planters to start 650 churches (in partnership with Annual Conferences) in the United States by the end of 2012. Furthermore, it celebrated 75 years of publishing the worldwide devotional magazine, The Upper Room. It was noted that none of these would be possible without partnerships with local churches, Annual Conferences, racial/ethnic ministries, and Central Conferences (offices outside the United States).
Directors also realized that the World Service Fund, its main source of funding from within The United Methodist Church, has not covered all agency expenses for more than 30 years. Therefore GBOD, after consultation with the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration, has developed a plan to target its constituency and grow its financial partners for the future.
New Church Starts
Gary Shockley, executive director of New Church Starts (Path 1) at GBOD, says his division also is working to establish ethnic minority congregations. He projects planting 50-65 new faith communities in coordination with the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century initiative. New Church Starts is establishing connections with 31 Hispanic/Latino new congregations, also, in partnership with the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries.
In addition, there are plans and progress among the Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. "They see us as their partners," says the Rev. Bener Agtarap, new church strategist with New Church Starts.
Perhaps the most significant growth area for New Church Starts is the Lay Missionary Planting Network. New Church Starts is working to develop lay persons who have a passion for planting new churches. Networks are already present in the Baltimore-Washington/Virginia, Desert Southwest, East Ohio, Greater New Jersey, and Rio Grande areas. Plans are in place to double the number of sites for these networks in the next year.
Directors have authorized a plan to raise funds to support all of the agency's ministries (New Church Starts/Path 1, Young People's Ministries, Leadership Ministries, and Upper Room). The fundraising campaign will be directed to those persons and groups that GBOD already is in contact with, and will not be a mass campaign to the entire denomination. This is in accordance with denominational policies regarding fundraising. This new effort by GBOD will coordinate the fund development done by the Upper Room with the efforts in support of Path 1 and other work areas of GBOD.
GBOD affirmed the new format of an eight-page document for Foundations: Shaping the Ministry of Christian Education in Your Congregation. The agency is charged in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church to provide for the church a clear statement of the biblical and theological foundations of Christian education. Previously published as a book by action of the 1992 General Board of Discipleship, this leaflet takes the primary content and makes it accessible both on the web and in print, in a version which allows congregations to easily access the content.
Board member Hugh MacKintosh presented the report of the Committee on Older Adult Ministries of The United Methodist Church, which included action taken by the committee for financial grants to be awarded in 2010. All grants were for projects that promote Intergenerational Ministries. Of the 63 grant applications received, 38 were approved and funded for a total of $75,000. Distribution was as follows: eight in North Central Jurisdiction, one in Northeastern Jurisdiction, four in South Central Jurisdiction, 12 in Southeastern Jurisdiction, two in Western Jurisdiction, and 11 to Central Conferences. The grant funding process for Caregiving Ministry grants is from August 1 to January 15, 2011.
Preparations for General Conference
In preparation for General Conference 2012, the top legislative meeting of The United Methodist Church, GBOD has begun its review of potential legislation. Among the pieces recommended at this meeting of GBOD's directors are the renewals of two documents on sacraments, "By Water and the Spirit" and "This Holy Mystery."
In other business, GBOD's directors heard a report from the Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly meeting held earlier in the summer in Berlin. Bishop Charlene Kammerer (Virginia Area), president of GBOD, held up this meeting as an example for The United Methodist Church as it seeks to be a more global denomination.
GBOD's mission is to support Annual Conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, GBOD is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit www.gbod.org for more information or call the GBOD Communications Office at 877.899.2780, Ext. 1726.