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May 23, 2003


Bishop's Corner

Vision And Mission

By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker

During the past year the Conference Table of elected leaders and voluntary participants has met in various places around the state. The Conference Table will propose to the 2003 Florida Annual Conference a vision statement, a mission statement and an agenda. In subsequent columns I shall comment on the items in the agenda.

The proposed vision and mission statements are works in progress. Anyone who wishes to offer a suggestion may get in touch with Dr. Anne Burkholder, the new director of Connectional Ministries beginning June 1.

The vision statement is as follows: “God’s transforming grace in Jesus Christ calls us to become one dynamic church with diverse people in many settings, offering a new life of Christian discipleship to the world.”

The vision statement assumes that The United Methodist Church is one church in different locations, that it includes a diversity of peoples, and that its primary mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who will be his witnesses in the world. A key word is “transforming.” The grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ transforms us who believe and transforms the world in which we live. Being a disciple of Jesus is to experience and to witness to transformation; it is not merely a matter of being a member of the church as an organization.

The mission statement is as follows: “The mission of the Florida Annual Conference is to be a vital connection that is part of God’s transformation of the world by equipping congregations for the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ; transforming existing congregations from a life of institutional maintenance to a life of transformational mission in their diverse communities and the world; reproducing vital congregations in new settings; calling, training and supporting lay and clergy leaders for the church; and engaging in shared ministries that fulfill the vision of the Kingdom of God.”

There are three themes in the mission statement that stand out. One is transforming existing congregations. Another is reproducing vital congregations. The other is the emphasis upon God’s call for all congregations to be involved in a global mission to witness to the coming of God’s reign.

If we can transform existing congregations and reproduce vital congregations as “mother churches” without becoming merely local in our mission, the living God will bless, use and grow our church to accomplish the divine mission in human history!

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