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Methodists Revamp Assembly
Abstract: United Methodist Church readies new rules for Worldwide Assembly.
In late January United Methodist Communications hosted a news briefing to introduce changes to the format of the upcoming worldwide assembly of the United Methodist Church (April 23 - May 2 in Fort Worth, Texas).
Weary of decades of the church's top legislative meeting being consumed by debate over homosexuality and other hot-button issues, the Council of Bishops and other denominational leaders have shaped a new churchwide agenda with the overarching purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The agenda includes four areas of focus: developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world; creating "new places for new generations" by starting new churches and renewing existing ones; engaging in ministry with the poor; and fighting the killer diseases of poverty such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Church leaders believe this approach will help United Methodists unite to address the world's core needs, reclaim the church's Wesleyan heritage, start a movement and, as a bonus, reverse decades of declining membership trends.
"This is about alignment--with the Council of Bishops, the Connectional Table, what's happening in annual conferences--and saying we're going to coalesce (and) combine to make a difference," said the Rev. Jerome Del Pino, chief executive of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, which will oversee the church leadership initiative.