The 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church established the Connectional Process Team to manage, guide and promote a transformational direction for The United Methodist Church to continue the work begun by the Connectional Issues Study of the General Council on Ministries and the Global Nature of the Church Study of the Council of Bishops." (For additional information, see Appendix.)
The key phrase in this mandate is "transformational direction." What transforms-radically, redeemingly, completely, fulfillingly? For the Christian community it is the love of God; God who creates, sustains, guides, redeems, and perfects. In each act of divine love, God transforms-from chaos to order, from darkness to light, from deprivation to fullness, from non-life to life, from sinner to saint, from mortality to immortality.
God loves the world, demonstrating that love throughout human history. There is no clearer sign of God's love for the world than the life, ministry, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God pours out perfect love upon the world in the person of Christ, through him in the Holy Spirit redeeming the world and beginning the process of restoring, renewing, and perfecting it in the fullness of God's love.
The Church is the community of those who have responded to Gods love, becoming a redeemed and redeeming fellowship in which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments administered. Through the working of the Holy Spirit the church reaches out to others. For United Methodists there is no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness. The church of Jesus Christ exists in and for the world, seeking its redemption. As United Methodists our connectional polity binds us together in faith and service in our global witness, enabling faith to become active in love and intensifying our desire for peace and justice in the world.
In the dawning of a new century with its many challenges, we believe that God is calling the entire United Methodist Church to institutional and personal transformation. Our transformation must continue as we invite all persons to become followers of Jesus Christ, be transformed by grace through faith, and go out into the world to manifest Gods reign in their lives.
In the light of our study, conversations, and prayer, we have examined all of the activities, functions, and structures of the church today by asking one simple but central question:
The report we present with its recommended directions and changes has been guided by this question.
We believe that we have been led by the Holy Spirit to recommend to The United Methodist Church the following transformational directions: