FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Panama City, Panama: In thepresidential address to the Council of Bishops in Panama City, Panama today, Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster challenged the bishops of The United Methodist Church to "lean into God's future" by turning the focus of attention to what is about to happen rather than what has always been.
"We have the opportunity to lead the church toward greater vitality, impact and influence in the world," said Bishop Goodpaster. "By our decisions and actions this week in Panama, we will either lean into the future or be content with more of the same."
Goodpaster said that the first steps toward the future were taken when the Four Areas of Focus (leadership development, church growth, global health, and ministry with the poor) emerged during the 2008 General Conference.
The Call to Action report being presented to the council on November 3-4 invites the church into an adaptive challenge that will "redirect the flow of attention, energy, and resources to an intense concentration on fostering and sustaining an increase in the number of vital congregations effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
"Leaning into God's future must move us toward accomplishing the mission by empowering and equipping women and men in thousands of local churches scattered in countries around the globe to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," he said.
The bishops of the church, he said, must act decisively and with a sense of urgency to cast the vision, exercise influence, persuade, lead, and begin leaning into a relevant future. In order to begin laying the groundwork for the 2012 General Conference, Bishop Goodpaster challenged his colleagues in the Council of Bishops to commit to do four things:
1. To covenant to weekly prayer and fasting for the 18 months leading up to General Conference
2. To convene and host holy conversations on a monthly basis with varied groups of people
3. To promote and encourage participation in the Leadership Summit on April 6, 2011
4. To use the covenant group meetings in Panama to focus on supporting, encouraging, and holding each other accountable for these commitments
"With great hope and anticipation of what God will do with us and among us, I believe it is time for us to lean into God's future, fish from a different side of the boat, and prepare to be astounded by the results," said Goodpaster.
Media Contact: Diane Degnan
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Read the full text of the speech