Delegates Make Commitments to Global Church

Posted under: General Conference 2012

As with a number of other items that were resolved without much notice in the morning plenary May 1, delegates to the 2012 General Conference approved two pieces of legislation that further the global ministry of The United Methodist Church.

The Pacific Islander Ministry Plan was approved on the morning’s consent calendar, making it the sixth racial-ethnic ministry plan for the church. The consent calendar comprises a large number of petitions that are acted upon at the same time.

A committee approved by the 2008 General Conference was charged with studying the needs and challenges of Pacific Islanders in the United States – a group that includes Tongans, Samoans, Fijians, native Hawaiians and others. The ministry plan is the result of that work. Its goal is to resource, strengthen and advocate for the growth and development of Pacific Island churches and ministries within the United Methodist connection.

At least 1.1 million Pacific Islanders live in the United States, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, and there are about 80 churches, congregations and fellowships in the United States. Methodism in the Pacific Islands dates back to 1822.

The plan joins the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries, Korean American Ministry Plan, Asian Language Ministry Plan, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and the Native American Comprehensive Plan.

Commitment to worldwide church

Through the consent calendar, delegates also approved the Covenant for a Worldwide United Methodist Church. It is a product of nearly eight years of study by the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church.

In a time when the membership of the U.S. church is in decline and conferences outside the United States are growing, the covenant celebrates both the diversity of the church and its connectedness across the globe.

The covenant reminds delegates that the church’s worldwide connection enables United Methodist to fulfill their “missional calling beyond national and regional boundaries.” It also urges them to “affirm our unity in Christ and take faithful steps to live more fully into what it means to be a worldwide church in mission for the transformation of the world.”

The demographics of the 2012 General Conference delegates reflect current growth trends. More than 39 percent are from the annual conferences in Asia, Africa and Europe.

By Tita Parham and Neill Caldwell

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