Sunday, March 8, 2015

Let’s Update Our Discipline

Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS
     Our Discipline is written by all of us together, either actively or passively. United Methodists share our Book of Discipline as part of our covenant with each other.  At times we may prayerfully identify needed changes to spread the Gospel more effectively, bolster our resistance to oppression, and fully implement the teachings of Jesus. We may seek improvement in some paragraphs by advocating their greater conformity to our understandings of Scripture.
Whenever we want to make revisions to our Book of Discipline, it is because we are prayerfully compelled by the love of Christ to stand in agreement with some sisters and brothers, albeit in disagreement with others.  We all share similarly motivated yet sometimes divergent views.  Modifications should be meaningful and important to the mission of our church “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  They should clarify our united purposes, strengthen our ministries, and empower those who are unjustly marginalized in the life and service of the church.
Any United Methodist member and organization may petition General Conference for changes to our Book of Discipline.  The process for updating this complex instrument requires humility, patience, and unity.  If we are willing to blend our thoughts with others toward a more harmonious view, engage our persuasive influence on the common intellect, and forego personal interests in the pursuit of spiritual wholeness, then we can augment the conversations that shape change.
One way to participate in the work of updating our Discipline is to write petitions.  Another way is to support, through our conversations and writings, the petitions submitted by others.  We can all engage by following the news, preparations, and other developments related to the next General Conference session. We should pray for our delegates and the votes they will be making on our behalf.  What a wonderful opportunity for all United Methodists to contribute to the future of our Christian faith!

·         The article “Instructions for Submitting petitions to the 2016 General Conference” provides detailed information for creating the petitions for submission between April 1 and October 13, 2015. 
·         General Conference 2016 information page on tracks news, legislation, and preparations leading up to the event May 10-20, 2016.

·         The United Methodist Book of Discipline, free online edition