United Methodist agencies: 2018 was productive year

The 13 agencies of The United Methodist Church had an industrious 2018, and all of them are pursuing ambitious goals this year.

United Methodist News Service contacted each agency and compiled a list of their proudest accomplishments of 2018 and most important goals for 2019.
Here are the results:

The Board of Church and Society released a first draft of an updated Social Principles, the prayerful and thoughtful effort of General Conference to speak to the issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation. Led by the Rev. Mary Elizabeth Moore, dean of Boston University School of Theology, the team is now working on a new draft after receiving comments and suggestions from across the denomination.

The Board of Discipleship distributed more than 25,000 of its “See All the People” guide to winning new disciples for Jesus Christ. The program also used study booklets, films and training events to assist local churches in developing a discipleship program. This year, plans call for continuing the effort to place an intentional disciple-making process in every church and to engage people currently outside the church.

The Board of Global Ministries assisted in the release of three missionaries from the Philippines detained by the government, and its United Methodist Committee on Relief continued massive rehabilitation efforts to deal with damage caused by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast of the U.S. The UMC-Manila Agency Center opened Dec. 18 in collaboration with United Methodist Communications as a base for general agency work in the Philippines Central Conference. In 2019, the agency continues to focus on the Abundant Health initiative, which has the goal of providing life-saving intervention to a million children by 2020.

Tawanda Chandiwana exhibits a broad smile as he arrives back home in Zimbabwe in July, 2018, after a 56-day detention in the Philippines. The 13 agencies of The United Methodist Church are pursuing further accomplishments in 2019. File photo by Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UMNS.
Tawanda Chandiwana exhibits a broad smile as he arrives back home in Zimbabwe in July, 2018, after a 56-day detention in the Philippines.

The Board of Higher Education and Ministry solidified plans in 2018 to establish a Center for Leadership and Spiritual Formation. The higher education and ministry agency is researching the competencies that leaders will need and exploring ways of providing these services through a range of means, such as face-to-face training, online conferencing, consulting and recommending resources and experts. In 2019, the agency plans to develop resources for collegiate ministers to assist them in helping students tend to their emotional well-being.
The Commission on Religion and Race hosted the Facing the Future conference May 7-9 in Newark, New Jersey, where about 300 pastors learned ways to connect with diverse churchgoers when the demographics of a neighborhood change. The agency’s Vital Conversations 4: Race, Culture, the Church, and Human Sexuality video study course engaged people of color and people in Africa and the Philippines more prominently in the church’s discourse about the status and role of LGBTQ people. For 2019, the Religion and Race Commission plans to launch a new campaign, “We Are Becoming,” about leaders and churches reaching across lines of difference.

The Commission on the Status and Role of Women, energized by the growth of the #MeToo movement in 2018, put together a toolkit of resources to help churches and faith groups go forward with good sexual ethics policies. The commission plans to cultivate more relationships in 2019 in order to get its resources out to more United Methodists.
The Commission on United Methodist Men expanded its use of principles found in the book “The Class Meeting” to reinvigorate its meetings. The center is using the same techniques with “Amending Through Faith,” an eight-week course addressing domestic violence. The course is the result of a partnership with the YWCA and other agencies. In 2019, United Methodist Men will help facilitate several large events, including a denominational leadership meeting in Nashville in March and the 24th annual Scouting Jamboree in West Virginia in July.
The Commission on Archives and History encouraged United Methodists to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The United Methodist Church on Aldersgate Day (May 24) or the Sunday preceding that date.The incentive was to remind members of the denomination’s DNA and ethos as it prepares for a momentous special session of the General Conference. The agency plans to continue promoting and caring for the historical interests of the denomination in 2019.

The General Council on Finance and Administration developed a new brand and website, UMC Support. The new moniker acknowledges that service to United Methodists and their institutions is at the core of the finance agency’s mission. Its goal this year is to maintain the high caliber of administrative support and services to the church with easily accessible, downloadable resources.
United Methodist Communications implemented new technologies for web content, contact management and marketing automation. These technologies will reduce costs, provide multilingual content and streamline communication channels. In 2019, the agency will continue working toward building a comprehensive communication strategy and overcoming any fragmentation that exists in denomination messaging and communications.

The United Methodist Publishing House in 2018 conducted deep research on customer needs, working collaboratively with church leaders to test new methods and materials, employing emerging digital technologies for better service and reinventing internal processes to achieve gains in quality and efficiency. In 2019, plans call for an updated Cokesbury.com to improve the e-commerce experience and the testing of a mobile Bible study app.

United Methodist Women trained more than 6,000 women on interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and helping to stem climate change from a faith-based perspective at its quadrennial assembly in Columbus, Ohio. In 2019, UMW plans to mark its 150th anniversary with celebrations, recruit new members and mobilize women for action that is spiritually nurturing.

Wespath Benefits and Investments is integral to the preparations for the special called session of General Conference, set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. It is supplying information on how the results of the General Conference might affect pensions and other monetary concerns. Going forward, Wespath is working to design new benefit plan proposals.

Patterson is a United Methodist News Service reporter in Nashville, Tennessee. Contact him at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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