By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker
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!