The special committee examining the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church wants to streamline the denomination’s Book of Discipline.
The new Discipline would focus on doctrine and law relevant to the entire denomination, a groundbreaking change from the current book, which is considered United States-centric.
Members of the Committee Studying the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church devoted time in meetings around the globe on developing a Discipline that is relevant worldwide, rather than dealing with predominantly American issues.
They held meetings and conducted listening posts in Africa, the Philippines, the United States and Europe. Leaders outside the U.S. repeatedly focused on the need for a slimmer Discipline that would serve the entire church, not primarily the United States.
Most of the current book is irrelevant to United Methodists in Europe, the Philippines and Africa. Annual conferences in those regions are allowed to adopt local rules and procedures reflecting their cultures and mores.
The committee’s concept includes these elements from the current book:
• Doctrinal Standards and Theological task
• Description of the Ministry of All Christians
• Social Principles
• Outline of local church and local church membership
• Standards for Ordained Ministry and Episcopacy
• Organization of the General and Continental Conferences
• Organization of the Annual Conference
• Organization of worldwide general agencies, including the General Council on Finance and Administration, Connectional Table, General Board of Global Ministries, General Commission on Archives and History, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, Committee on Faith and Order, and the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters
• Rules on church property
• Judicial Council and judicial procedures
Committee members noted that a slimmed-down Discipline would contain key elements of church law dealing with sexuality, ministerial qualifications, and the denomination’s Social Principles. That would ensure that basic standards of doctrine and ministerial qualifications would be the same around the world.
If needed, regional entities could create their own supplements to the Discipline covering issues and processes that relate directly to their region of the world.