Regionalization legislation petitions submitted to General Conference

CHICAGO—Proposals surrounding regionalization efforts within The United Methodist Church reached a new milestone.

During an Aug. 19 meeting, The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters unanimously approved a worldwide regionalism legislation for submission to General Conference. This legislation was also supported for submission by the Connectional Table at its July 13 meeting.

The regionalization legislation aims to provide equity throughout the regions of The United Methodist Church with the intention of decentralizing the influence of the United States on General Conference.

Emphasizing the United Methodist theology of connectionalism, it provides for contextualized ministry and mission throughout the church.

As noted in the worldwide regionalism legislation submission, eight petitions are to be submitted to General Conference. These petitions create Regional Conferences around the world. In regions with a Central Conference, the Regional Conference will replace the Central Conference. In places without a Central Conference, a Regional Conference will be established. These petitions also establish the rights, duties, power and privileges of the Regional Conferences. These petitions give Regional Conferences legislative powers so that they can be more nimble and increase their missional impact in their region. 

It also includes the creation of The United States Regional Conference, comprising the five jurisdictions. This plan includes the creation of a committee of the General Conference for U.S. regional matters, as well as the Interim Committee on Organization to organize and plan for the establishment and functioning of a new United States Regional Conference. Both the legislative committee and the organizing committee will dissolve at the first Regional Conference of the United States.

In the same spirit of connectionalism, this legislation was made possible thanks to the collaborative work of the writers of the Christmas Covenant, Connectional Table and The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters to arrive at the current legislation.

“Our proposed legislation is about relevance, equity and trust. To be more relevant to the people in our various contexts, we need freedom to shape our churches accordingly. To become a truly worldwide church, we need to do away with inequity,” said Bishop Harald Rückert, co-chair of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. “To stay together as a connectional church, we need trust rather than detailed regulations. The concept of regionalization promotes the mission of our United Methodist Church—through relevance, equity and trust.”

“Regionalization is a way forward to keep the UMC alive and relevant in a worldwide context, said Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco, co-chair with Rückert of the Standing Committee. “It addresses the mandate of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’ It keeps us connected in mission as we proclaim the gospel in our respective context. Faith is the foundation of our mission as we go and make disciples of all nations.”

The legislation will be brought forth for voting at the postponed 2020 United Methodist General Conference to be held April 23 to May 3, 2024, at Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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