At our General Conference, which will be held in Portland, Oregon (May 10-20), there will be conversation about a Global Book of Discipline. Our current Discipline has much information in it that is pertinent only to United Methodist churches in the United States. A Global Book of Discipline would be “slimmed down” with content that is universally applicable and thus, would reflect the global nature of this changing denomination that we are beginning to live into during this generation.
Back in 2012 General Conference asked for a committee to study this idea and bring recommendations to the 2016 General Conference. This they have done, and they are proposing a number of changes that the 2016 delegates will consider that relate to the organization and administration of conferences globally at all levels. Things that will not be changed are our Constitution, our Doctrinal Standards, our Theological Task, the Ministry of All Christians statement, and our Social Principles.
The Central Conference members (those in the seven church regions of Africa, Europe and the Philippines) will likely ask for feedback from the gathering in Portland. The goal is to pare down the chapters dealing with the work of the general agencies and the judicial processes. This could bring about a proposal to request an extension until 2020 to do more refining work. The final vote then would happen at General Conference four years from now which will meet in Minneapolis, Minn.
Our prayers go with our delegates as they consider this landmark change in the way we function and administer our churches in a global context and as we determine which things are universal and non-negotiable.
–Bishop Peggy Johnson