Assembly creates committee on faith and order

Creation of a study committee that will provide leadership in faith and order for The United Methodist Church was authorized April 28 by the 2008 General Conference.

The Committee on Faith and Order was authorized by a vote of 454-360. It will reflect on matters of faith, doctrinal teaching, order and discipline. It will have three broad responsibilities:

  • To lead and coordinate studies commissioned by the General Conference about matters of faith, doctrine, order and discipline of the church.
  • To support and provide resources for the Council of Bishops.
  • To prepare resources and study materials for the church upon request from General Conference, the Council of Bishops or the Connectional Table.

The committee will function independently but fall under the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns' staffing, budgeting and financial affairs.

"The committee will provide a continuing arena for significant scholarly reflection," said the Rev. Greg Stover, a member of the commission's board of directors and a delegate from the West Ohio Annual (regional) Conference. It "will help define who we are as a church."

The legislative assembly's Faith and Order Committee recommended funding of $287,000, but that was amended to require that the funding come from the Commission on Christian Unity and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Jim Branscome, a lay delegate from the Virginia Conference, offered the amendment "in order to keep funding in line."

Stover said funding the new committee would take up a significant portion of the general agencies' budgets. "A committee on faith and order would benefit the entire church, and I hope it is something that would be funded beyond two agencies."

'Sustained theological reflection'

The Rev. Darren Cushman-Wood, a delegate from South Indiana, was among those supporting creation of the committee. "We need sustained theological reflection on issues that divide us-issues General Conference has been confused about," hesaid.

"The committee will provide a continuing arena for significant scholarly reflection. ... (It) will help define who we are as a church." Other delegates spoke against the proposal, including the Rev. James Harnish of the Florida Conference. "I wonder if this is a super theological committee. God loved the world so much that he didn't send a committee," he said.

The Committee on Faith and Order, Stover said, "will be a place where conversations can be connected together in a way they are not now."

The committee will have 24 members, at least three of whom shall be clergy actively serving full time in a local church, and three shall be laity. The entire slate of members will be approved and elected by the Council of Bishops in its fall meeting every four years after General Conference.

Members will include six bishops and six seminary faculty members nominated by the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools.

The remaining 12 members — who shall not be bishops — will be chosen by the Council of Bishops upon nomination by the Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Six of the 12 shall come from the nominations of the commission, and six shall be chosen from those nominated by the board. Three of the members nominated by the board will be nominated from the faculties of United Methodist-affiliated seminaries in the central conferences.

*White is associate editor of Interpreter magazine.

News media contact: Deborah White, e-mail: [email protected]

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470.
 

Resources

General Conference 2008

Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns

Board of Higher Education and Ministry

 

 

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Social Concerns
The Rev. Jason Stubblefield. Photo courtesy of the author.

United Methodism's crisis of authority

United Methodists need the stability of established doctrine and the means to uphold it. Emulating the Catholic Church’s magisterium could serve that purpose.
General Agencies
With giving to denomination-wide ministries varying widely, collections seem to indicate conferences are paying at the rates in the proposed general church budget heading to General Conference next year. However, with General Conference delayed, that proposed budget is not in effect. Image by Steve Buissinne, courtesy of Pixabay.

Finance board gets update on giving, reserves

U.S. giving to United Methodist ministries was lower in early 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. However, collection rates varied widely among church funds.
Bishops
The Holston Conference’s Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor embraces the Rev. David Graves following his election as United Methodist bishop at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2016. On April 30, the Council of Bishops affirmed its decision to delay electing any new leaders until after the postponed General Conference. File photo by Annette Spence, Holston Conference.

Bishops’ election plans draw mixed reaction

Many General Conference delegates praised the bishops for retracting an earlier recommendation of four-year hold on United Methodist elections. But some still have misgivings about a delay until 2022.