From the CME College of Bishops
August 17, 2019
In 2018, the CME Church began work on a strategic plan for the denomination. The Bishops and General Officers met together with a facilitator to begin the visioning process in September 2018. In December 2018, members of the Church were invited to submit their thoughts and recommendations through a survey. In January 2019, approximately 75 representatives from the clergy, laity and young adults from each Episcopal District – along with the Bishops and General Officers – met in Atlanta for a session of strategic thinking with the assistance of consulting firm. At our meeting in August 2019, the College of Bishops continued the process by meeting again with facilitators to develop a timeline for moving forward. The College of Bishops wants the Church to know that we are committed to the strategic planning process and to including the voice and participation of all levels of the Church. We will keep our members and congregations informed through the various official communication methods of the Church.
In the meantime, the College of Bishops feel that it is of importance and immediacy that we as a denomination address the critical needs of our church’s vitality. The legacy of our church includes a firm and clear commitment to intergenerational and multi-generational ministry. We pride ourselves in being a church that has served the spiritual needs of all ages. We celebrate that even today we are blessed to have strong leadership of seniors, middle adults, young adults, and youth in our local churches and at the district and regional level. However, we currently grieve that we continue to see a trend of decreasing participation of children, youth and young adults in the overall life of the church. We are further grieved by the cycles of poverty, gun violence, mass incarceration, educational cuts, and immigration and other policies and practices that harm children.
As the College of Bishops, during this quadrennium and in keeping with our theme of “Back to Basics”, we are commissioning the programmatic General Officers of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church to be intentional about the inclusion of children, youth and young adults in their plans and projects. We further commission our Presiding Elders and Pastors to also be intentional in recruiting, training and including children, youth and young adults as leaders, officers, and participants in the ministry and activities of the Church. We commission our congregations and members to welcome the children, youth and young adults as Jesus did and commanded us in the Gospels (Matthew 19: 14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16).
We understand this mandate to mean ALL children, youth and young adults, not just those who are members of our churches. We have a mandate from the Lord to reach out to our neighbors and to strangers who need aid, assistance and love. We envision our local churches as safe and welcoming spaces in both traditional and non-traditional ways. We lift up the World Council of Churches’ resources on Child-Friendly Churches as a resource to you in doing this vital ministry (https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/public-witness/rights-of-children/child-friendly-churches). We reaffirm our support of our colleges and schools and its students who are striving to prepare themselves for the future as productive citizens and leaders. This emphasis is especially important as we prepare for the Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conference in 2020 and the need to keep those attendees engaged with the Church once the conference is over.
These commissions are not to the exclusion of a continued commitment to adult and senior ministries to those age groups in our churches and communities. However, the life and future of our church is dependent upon a loving and inclusive response to the children, youth and young adults that God has given to us to nurture, mentor, encourage, and disciple in the Christian faith. Let us recall the powerful words of the prophet Joel, who proclaimed on God’s behalf: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old shall dream dreams, and your young shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).
THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS OF THE CHRISTIAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Senior Bishop
Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr., Chair
Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr.
Bishop Kenneth W. Carter
Bishop James B. Walker
Bishop Sylvester Williams
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Secretary
Bishop Godwin Umoette
Bishop Bobby R. Best
Bishop Marvin F. Thomas
Bishop C. James King, Jr.
Bishop Paul A. G. Stewart, retired
Bishop E. Lynn Brown, retired
Bishop Ronald Cunningham, retired
Bishop Othal Lakey, retired
Bishop William Graves, retired
Bishop Marshall Gilmore, retired