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Almost there: More work needed before Connectional Ministries structure fully complies with church law

By Jessica Connor

The new Connectional Ministries structure is almost there — but not quite.

Members of the Judicial Council met in late October and ruled the structure partially compliant with the Book of Discipline, but two minor changes are required before they rubber-stamp it yes. 

This is the second time The United Methodist Church s top court has asked the conference to further revise slight issues with the structure. At its fall session a year ago, the court found several deficiencies and required the S.C. Conference to submit a revision after Annual Conference 2012. This year, the court said just two deficiencies remain.

We re going on to perfection, but we re not quite there yet,  said the Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries.

First, the court said the structure must comply with Discipline Para. 633.3: membership of the secretary of global ministries. James said this is just a wording issue  “ the current wording lists the conference secretary of global ministries as a member of the Outreach area of Conference Connectional Ministries.  But this is not in compliance with the Discipline, which says the secretary must be a member of the Conference Board of Global Ministries. So the conference will need to clarify the wording.

Second, the court said the structure must follow fully Discipline Para. 614.3 on the line item budget of the conference Commission on Archives and History for benevolences. According to James, that paragraph requires Connectional Ministries to include a line item in the conference benevolences budget for archives and history, but currently, archives and history submits its own budget to the Council on Finance and Administration that is separate from Connectional Ministries.

It seems archives and history actually needs to be under the Connectional Ministries umbrella in terms of program money,  James explained.

The S.C. Conference must fix these issues and submit the revised structure to the Judicial Council within 30 days from the last day of Annual Conference 2013, set for June 9-12, 2013, in Florence.

Between now and then, the Connectional Ministries leadership team, along with archives and history members, will make the necessary wording changes and submit the revised structure to the annual conference through Standing Rule 48, which will be presented to the body in June.

We don t foresee any problem,  said Commission on Archives and History member the Rev. Doug Chambers. The only change to us will be submission of our budget “ rather than through the treasurer, we will submit through Connectional Ministries. 

About the structure

The new structure of Conference Connectional Ministries is a streamlined, smaller version of the old Conference Council of Connectional Ministries that attempts to link local churches with districts, conference, General Church and myriad boards and agencies in an organic way instead of a top-down  manner. Annual Conference 2010 approved the framework for the structure, authorizing the creation of 12 District Connectional Ministries bodies. The 12 DCMs encompass four separate areas of ministry: Advocacy, Lay Leadership, Discipleship and Outreach. Each area has six to 10 members apiece, for a total of 36-40 DCM members per district, all responsible for connecting the district and the local church in their ministry area.

The 2011 Annual Conference took the next step, establishing the creation of the CCM, which comprises representatives from each of the 12 DCMs.

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