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International group maps out vision for church future

An international group of General Conference delegates invited fellow United Methodists to envision a better way to be the church. Based in part on that feedback, the group is unveiling a new vision map offering ways to make room for all at God’s table. Graphic courtesy of Out of Chaos, Creation.
An international group of General Conference delegates invited fellow United Methodists to envision a better way to be the church. Based in part on that feedback, the group is unveiling a new vision map offering ways to make room for all at God’s table. Graphic courtesy of Out of Chaos, Creation.
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A group of General Conference delegates asked United Methodists from around the globe to help them envision a better church.

With that feedback, the delegates now see that future church on the horizon and they’ve mapped out a way to get there.

The international group unveiled its vision map, “Out of Chaos, Creation: Imagining a Better Way of Being United Methodists,” on Feb. 19 in English, Spanish and French. The group also has plans to translate the 10-page document into Tagalog and German.

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The document calls for The United Methodist Church to be inclusive in other ways as well. Specifically, the document calls for the denomination to be more global by decolonizing the denomination’s missional relationships and rejecting U.S.-centrism. The document also calls for the church to be anti-racist.

The writing team of the document predominantly came from central conferences — United Methodist regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

In developing the vision map, the team took feedback from two sets of webinars in 2020, listening sessions as well as survey results.

The survey drew 102 respondents from all five U.S. jurisdictions and four central conferences, said the Rev. Cristine Carnate-Atrero, co-chair of the writing team and a pastor in the Philippines.

The group said it did not come together initially to support any specific legislative agenda. However, the vision map does offer support for two proposals coming before General Conference.

At the typical General Conference, delegations sit at separate tables, always divided by geography and often by language. Those not elected as delegates aren’t at the tables at all but at a noticeable distance to prevent interference in voting.

However, the delegates have a more open table in mind in writing about the church’s future — the Communion table that draws Christians together in faith in Christ.

That table should be a model for United Methodist interaction, said the Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, another member of the writing team. She is a delegate from the North Katanga Conference in Congo, a United Methodist Communications board member and an advocate for indigenous women.

The Rev. Anne-Marie Detjen, the document's main writer and a delegate from Germany, said she also hopes the map can help provide a sense of direction. She likened the map to the GPS she uses whenever she travels by car.

excerpt from a story by Heather Hahn, assistant news editor, UMNS

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