Active bishops of The United Methodist Church began the first meeting of the Forum of Residential Bishops on May 5 in San Diego with inspiring worship led by Rev. Jorge Lockward, Director of Global Praise for the General Board of Global Ministries. The bishops and spouses spent time in prayer, singing, praying for one another, anointing each other, and remembering their baptisms.
The purpose of the meeting is to create a learning environment where the residential bishops will share best practices, experiments and innovations that are working/not working in order to learn from one another. Each day’s discussion and learning will focus on a different theme, with addresses from selected keynote speakers.
“This will be an intensive time of learning, listening and renewing our commitment to our call,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops. “By removing ourselves for a few days from the day-to-day urgency of leading annual conferences, we have an opportunity to jointly gain a wider perspective of the church as a whole and to help one another as leaders from around the globe.”
During the forum, the bishops will develop small accountability groups, and group members will follow up with each other afterwards related to their annual conference, jurisdictional and general leadership roles and responsibilities.
The bishops have identified some specific goals they are collectively working toward, which include:
· Double the number of vital congregations in the U.S. by the end of 2017
· Increase the number of vital congregations in the Central Conferences
· Raise $75 million in the fight against malaria
· Engage congregations in ministries to end poverty
· Start 1,000 new congregations by then end of 2016
· Enlist, support and mentor an additional 2,000 young candidates for ministry
On May 7, the Episcopal leaders will visit the U.S. – Mexico border to immerse themselves in the reality of life at the Southern border of the U.S. and sharpen their focus on how the church can be in ministry to persons residing there.
“We bishops carry a long biblical and historical commitment to caring for the sojourner among us. This season when the U.S. Senate is considering a major bill on immigration policy reform provides us a critical opportunity to continue to give witness to the grace and mercy of God through this visit to the immigrant communities of the U.S./Mexico border,” said Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area.
The top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church will be joined by border community leaders, as well as leaders of the Methodist Church of Mexico and area United Methodists.