The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) took bold action in the spirit of Rethinking Church, at the spring board meeting of its board of directors which concluded last Wednesday (April 13, 2011).
In a step designed to conform to both the precepts of the Call to Action plan endorsed by the Council of Bishops, and to some of its specific recommendations, directors agreed to recommend to the 2012 General Conference that the size of the board be reduced from 92 members to 32.
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. (second from left in photo*), a GBGM director and president of the United Methodist Development Fund, says this dramatic move on the part of the board has been in the planning stages for more than a year, as the board seeks to hone its effectiveness.
At the same time, directors of the Women's Division (the administrative body for United Methodist Women and a division of GBGM) unanimously voted during their April 7-11 meeting to "structurally separate" but remain "missionally connected" with the Board of Global Ministries, rather than continue as a division of the mission agency.
Under the new structure, which requires approval by General Conference, the Women's Division would become known as United Methodist Women Inc., a nonprofit organization. UMW would continue to name five directors to the Global Ministries' board.
"The action by the Women's Division does not in any way signal a change of position by the Church," Bishop Brown says. "United Methodist Women continue to be vitally important to the Church and their leadership in mission is highly significant.
"UMW made an intentional change to be structurally separate but missionally aligned as a positive response to the strategic direction of the Global Ministries board.
"These changes by the board and the UMW are examples of how the rethinking of church for the 21st century is underway throughout the United Methodist Church," he says.
(*Photo by Ibrahim Dabo, courtesy GBGM.)