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Conversation about the Future

Feb 25, 2003 07:56 PM EST

United Methodists are encouraged to participate in an online "conversation about the future" with church leaders Feb. 26 and March 25.

The General Council on Ministries, in cooperation with the Inter-Agency Research Task Force, is hosting the two webcasts, "What in the World Are We Talking About? Strengthening Our Global Connection and Ecumenical Relationships."

The first webcast will be at 8 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday, Feb. 26. It will be followed by a second webcast at 8 p.m. Eastern time, March 25.

"We are inviting the church into a conversation about the future," said Clare Chapman, chairperson of the Forum on the Future committee. "We are not looking for answers to questions, a solution for the future, or to debate the pros and cons of one program of action over another. Rather, we are inviting the church to talk, to question, to think about what is going on around the world and how that will impact the mission and ministry of the church in the next 25 years."

Both webcasts will focus on the changing world culture and its impact on religion. The first will deal with the changes taking place in the United States, and the second will focus on changes occurring around the world.

The Feb. 26 webcast will be hosted from the studios of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. The second will originate from the studios of the Far Eastern Broadcasting Co. in Manila, the Republic of the Philippines.

The General Council on Ministries was directed by the 2000 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative assembly, to host a forum on issues that might affect the future of the church. The General Conference also mandated that the council study five transformational directions for the church, outlined by a Connectional Process Team. Those directions include "strengthening our global connection and ecumenical relationships."

Panelists from across the United Methodist Church and outside the denomination will be in dialogue with each other and the listening audience about such questions as:

7 How will the changing world culture in which United Methodists are called to do ministry shape the future of the church? 7 How are the unique needs and expressions of faith of the regions of the world likely to influence the nature of United Methodism's mission in the world? 7 What are the essential points at which the United Methodist membership can connect to the global mission and ministry of the church?

The scheduled presenters include the Rev. William J. Abraham, Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; the Rev. Brandon Cho, executive director of the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries; Ernesto J. Cortis Jr., Southwest regional director of the Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation; Erin Hawkins, staff executive, United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race; Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Jan Love, professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina; Bishop Edward Paup, leader of the denomination's Portland (Ore.) Area and president of the General Council on Ministries; the Rev. Bruce Robbins, top staff executive, United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns; and Jay Williams, Harvard University student.

To participate in the webcasts, go to www.gcom-umc.org/future. More details are available by contacting the council's Office of Research & Planning, [email protected], or by calling Craig This, director of research and planning, at (937) 227-9415.

By Albert H. Lee
[email protected]