aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Nobody asked me, but . . . Part IV

Restructuring the General Church is something that was a big deal last General Conference. In fact, Gen Conf passed a laundry list of constitutional amendments intended to restructure The UMC on the global level. Every one of them was roundly rejected by the Annual Conferences.

What was submitted to the Annual Conferences last time was a complicated and expensive plan that would have separated the overseas United Methodists from American UMs in ways that would be more likely to concentrate power in the hands of American liberal church leadership. The rank and file of UMs, all over the world, said NO. Nevertheless, something must be done.

I see two issues that need to be addressed.

1) Our 13 General Agencies are too bloated, too expensive, and too separated from the local church. The basic answer is to starve them of money. Give them only minimal apportionment money to operate on, and make them raise the rest of their budgets. If people believe in what they're doing, they'll give to it. if they don't, then they won't be able to take the Faithful's money and blow it on stuff that scandalizes said Faithful. GCUMM already operates this way. They complain about it, but I think it's good for them. In order to do what they do, they have to stay connected with the locals who pay the bills.

Some agencies, of course, do this as a matter of course. The UM Publishing House (including Cokesbury and Abingdon Press) is a money-making enterprise, and has been since the 18th Century. (The profits of the Publishing House are used to support pensions, and have since the inception of the operation back when Bishop Asbury was running the show.) In order to stay in business, they have to offer the people something the people are willing to pay good money for. While the other agencies aren't (by and large) selling products, it's still a good principle to live by. If what you are doing is supported by the people, it will prosper.

2) The balance of power between US and overseas United Methodists needs to be addressed in a more equitable way. Making the US one of five Central ("Regional" under the failed Global Initiative) Conferences is not the way; making the four Central Conferences equal to the five Jurisdictional Conferences IS. (Although first, I would eliminate the Western Jurisdiction and reduce the number of Jurisdictions in America to four.)

That would give us eight bishop-electing jurisdictions, four in the US and four outside the US. I would rotate General Conference among all eight of them equally. And I would begin a long process of providing more direct participation in the programs and assets of the General Church (pensions, especially) among all eight jurisdictions.

Along with giving true equality to overseas UMs, I would start bringing missionaries from Africa to America. The Church is growing over there, and it's dying here, and money has little to do with it. The Spirit is with them, and we need their leadership to bring us alive again.

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