The Connectional Process Team has studied the work of the General Council on Ministries Connectional Issues Study and the Global Nature of the Church Study of the Council of Bishops with great care. We have formed listening groups to try to hear as many voices of United Methodists in diverse locations and positions as was possible within time and budgetary constraints. We have also participated in other forums at the invitation of United Methodist constituencies as well as ecumenical partners, sharing with them the work of the CPT and listening to their response. As a result of our work during the first three years of this quadrennium, we believe that the call for transformation throughout The United Methodist Church is resounding and urgent. The consensus about the transformational directions that the CPT has discerned from its study, listening, debate, and prayer centers on Jesus’ great commission to his disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSV). Our Wesleyan tradition helps us to understand that the Great Commission calls faithful disciples to witness to God’s call to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ and to carry out a ministry of service to a world in need of God’s justice and redemption. We believe that The United Methodist Church will best respond to God’s claim upon its life by refocusing the church on the spiritual formation of its members, the preparation and sending forth of spiritual and prophetic leaders, the commitment to live in covenant relationship with God and with each other, and the reclaiming of a connectional identity that builds disciples around the world who are able to witness and serve in the spirit of Jesus Christ.

The Connectional Process Team places these transformational directions and recommendations before the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in the covenantal spirit of open and vigorous analysis and deliberation. We ask that you prayerfully consider this report as a whole, for the transformational directions build upon one another. We believe that these directions can open us, The United Methodist Church, to greater awareness of and attentiveness to God's guidance.

We present this report with humility and an open understanding and hope that the report will stimulate thoughtful, prayerful, Spirit-filled consideration. We have been privileged to be a part of this important process, and we recognize that this report will not be what it needs to be without the many responses that we look forward to receiving from across the church.

As we consider these challenging but exciting changes for the church, let us remember:

Our connection is based on trust

  • trust that the risen Christ has transformed and is transforming the church and the world
  • trust that the Holy Spirit is leading the transformational process
  • trust that people and structures at all places in the church can be and should be vested with authority as well as responsibility
  • trust that making disciples of Jesus Christ is done most effectively when decisions are made in the place where ministry is done.

Grace and peace be with all of you.


Upon adoption of the foregoing document, "Transformational Directions for The United Methodist Church for the Twenty-First Century," we recommend that a Covenant Council be created to lead in modeling Christian conferencing and covenant relationships, and to enable The United Methodist Church to act upon the transformational directions.

During the 2001-2004 quadrennium, the Covenant Council will replace the current General Council on Ministries and will help us move toward collaborative work among the Global and Central Conferences. It will model the new style of leadership of Covenant Councils, guiding The United Methodist Church in discerning God's vision for its ministry and mission by providing an holistic process that focuses the work of all the parts. This vision enables the council to clarify responsibilities, to call for accountability to the vision and mission goals, and to provide for focused, shared resourcing for ministry and mission in a changing, complex environment. The Covenant Council will call us to work together in a new way to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It will help us see the church as a whole, call us to respond to God's Spirit in shaping the ministries of the church, and lead us into deeper relationships as a Christ-centered community. Discerning God's vision for the church is a continuous process since our God is a living God.

The Covenant Council will be assigned the following tasks:

1. To lead The United Methodist Church in knowing God’s will for its work, and living as biblical people in the Wesleyan tradition through a style of leadership where all members of the Covenant Council are equals around the table with voice and vote. The Covenant Council will strive to live and work together in a manner that is collegial, cooperative and inclusive, and that actively practices hospitality.

2. To guide The United Methodist Church in articulating a clear and compelling ministry vision through a holistic process that focuses the work of all the parts.

3. To prepare appropriate legislation to implement the Global Conference and Central Conferences as envisioned in the transformational directions. A preliminary draft of this legislation shall be shared with the Church by July 1, 2002. A final draft shall be presented to the 2004 General Conference.

4. To redesign and align the work of the general agencies and to provide implementing legislation to the 2004 General Conference.

  • developing specific ways for agencies to integrate work in the areas described on pp. 12-13, including the number and size of agencies and the size and configuration of elected agency boards for the most effective use of combined resources;
  • determining how the work of agencies will be assigned to the Global and Central Conference Covenant Councils after 2004;
  • determining how agencies will provide resources for annual conferences and local churches;
  • recommending to the 2004 General Conference the best way to staff the work beyond the annual conferences and determining where the responsibility for personnel should be vested; and
  • developing ways of evaluating the results of the work that is financed.

5. The present membership of the General Council on Ministries shall complete its work by September 1, 2000. For purposes of transition, the GCOM Conciliar Forum will continue to function until July 1, 2001, in order to complete any necessary administrative, legal and personnel responsibilities in cooperation with the Covenant Council. Staff necessary to the transitional work of the Conciliar Forum will also continue until July 1, 2001. This necessary staff will be determined by the Council of Bishops, in consultation with the GCOM Conciliar Forum.

6. To assure and execute in transformational ways any further essential responsibilities presently assigned to the GCOM as per the 1996 Book of Discipline of The UMC, including:

  • modeling, teaching, and practicing our identity as United Methodist Christians;
  • clearly stating and communicating missional objectives and faith stories;
  • engaging in leadership development and training and ensuring inclusiveness of participation.

The Covenant Council, in consultation with the GCOM Conciliar Forum, will determine the essential functions that must be continued beyond 2004 and those that should be discontinued, and will make the appropriate recommendations to the 2004 General Conference.

7. To propose to the 2004 General Conference the next steps for implementing the Covenant Councils throughout the connection and at all times to be guided by the transformational directions.

8. To relate to annual conferences and build mutual relationships with annual conference leadership.

9. The Council of Bishops will convene the Covenant Council as soon as possible but no later than December 1, 2000, and choose from among its retired membership a bishop to staff the Covenant Council through the 2004 General Conference.

10. The membership of the Covenant Council will include:

  • one bishop from each jurisdiction and the secretary of the Council of Bishops and three bishops from the Central Conferences (one each from Europe, the Philippines, and Africa) elected by the Council of Bishops

  • three representatives from each jurisdiction (15) (one clergy, two lay) recommended by the colleges of bishops and elected by the Council of Bishops, and one lay person from each central conference (7), recommended by the bishops of the central conferences and elected by the Council of Bishops

  • the general secretary of each general agency

  • one elected member from each general agency (lay if general secretary is clergy), elected by the general agency

  • two representatives from the affiliated autonomous churches in Asia and two representatives from the affiliated autonomous churches in Latin America, designated by the appropriate fraternal organization in the region

  • two representatives from the affiliated autonomous Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

  • additional members for inclusiveness, diversity,and proportionality, with particular attention to including a variety of ethnic/racial persons and youth and young adults, elected by the Council of Bishops, not to exceed 15


It is recommended that the membership include 60% laity and 40% clergy.

11. The Covenant Council will be provided funding at the level of the funding allocated to the General Council on Ministries for the 1997-2000 quadrennium.

12. The Covenant Council will be accountable to the 2004 General Conference, and will report back on each of the tasks listed above. During the 2001-2004 quadrennium, the Covenant Council will make annual progress reports to the Council of Bishops and the annual conferences.


Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher, Chairperson

Report Index

Center on Christian Formation

Call Forth Covenant Leadership

Empower the Connection for Ministry

Strengthen Our Global Connection and Ecumenical Relationships

Encourage Doctrinal and Theological Discourse



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