The New Discipline: Laity Membership

January 17, 2020 | GNJ News

Dear GNJ Leadership,

The Methodist Church was the fastest growing denomination in the world from 1875 to 1925. It out paced the population growth in the areas it was located. Why? One of the most important reasons was that the laity of the church were growing in faith and influence within the church and world. Laity, filled with the conviction of Jesus Christ, equipped for leading and serving in ministry, and filled with the Holy Spirit, served with boldness, to turn outward toward the people in the community. It is this same conviction and spirit of the laity that will renew the United Methodist Church.

In the laity section of The Connection, The Order and Life of The United Methodist Church, laity and clergy are seen as equal in the eyes of the church – disciples of Jesus Christ, each having gifts and unique roles in serving God and building up the church.

People have been already sharing their appreciation for the bold effort of The Connection. Presently there are 17 laity and clergy serving on the team and we are grateful for the team’s work. It has been a labor of love. You will have the opportunity to provide your insights and modifications during January. There will be more information about how to participate in further shaping The Connection when the clergy section of The Connection is released by December 31.

You will also begin to see how The Connection ties the people and organizations of the church to the mission of the church and the Wesleyan Path that you read about in the previous section of The Connection that was sent to you on December 23. It is important to keep in mind the following information as you read this next section of The Connection.

The Connection names the four units of the church rather than using their meeting (or conference) as a reference. For instance, the term “annual conference” will no longer be the name of a unit of the church, but will continue to refer to the annual meeting.

  • The Local Church – the congregations around the world that are the primary mission body where disciples are made, lives are changed and communities are engaged. Congregations meet in charge/church conferences.
  • Connectional Church (annual conference) – the primary connectional body that connects the people and congregations to the greater church. The connectional church meets in an annual conference.
  • Regional Church (central and jurisdictional conferences) – the primary body where episcopal leadership is discerned and elected, polity is localized, and services are regionalized in context. The regional church meets in a quadrennial conference.
  • Global Church (general conference) – the primary body to order the life and polity of the church, to gather and share resources and to free United Methodists for mission around the world. The global church meets in a quadrennial global conference.

You may find the laity section and the introduction to The Connection by selecting this link.

Blessings in this Christmas season and we look forward to hearing from you about The Connection in January.

Bethany Amey-Sutton, Chairperson, GNJ Delegation; Drew Dyson, Co-Chairperson, GNJ Delegation; Myrna Bethke, Dean of the Cabinet; Kay Dubuisson, Chairperson, Connectional Table