DMin degree program is one more way Nashville Area of The United Methodist Church is living into its mission

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JOHN WESLEY

As I am well into my third year of serving the Nashville Episcopal Area (Memphis and Tennessee Conferences), one issue always on my mind and heart is making sure we have a well-planted Wesleyan theology throughout all of our congregations and ministries.

I want to help secure a Wesleyan theological foundation for our Christian faith and practice that embraces Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. I think this foundation is especially critical for the success of our new Area-wide mission to discover, equip, connect and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.

As one of many ways to address this theological grounding, my office is currently coordinating the offering of a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree program that begins this month.

To initiate this program with about 10 students from each conference, I, along with Dr. Douglas Meeks and Rev. Tom Laney of the Cal Turner Center for Church Leadership at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn., identified potential students. My hope and intention, however, is that this will be only the first cohort of an ongoing program. It is also my desire that those who complete the degree will help carry forth the teaching of Wesleyan theology across our Area.

The DMin program is a partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and the Turner Center. Cal Turner, Jr., has provided a generous grant to make this program possible.

Students will meet four times over a two-year period for two weeks at a time at four different locations: Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn.; Methodist-LeBonheur Healthcare System in Memphis, Tenn.; Wesley Theological Seminary; and Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.

The degree program will focus on issues important today that also were part of the original Wesleyan revival: healing and health care delivery, education, urban and rural poverty, and the penal/political/economic system.

The DMin program will employ an interdisciplinary approach to equip pastoral leaders for the challenges of their mission fields. Each course will include work on scripture, Wesleyan theology, congregational formation for mission, and social, economic and political analysis of mission opportunities in middle and west Tennessee and western Kentucky.

I want to express my appreciation to the Turner Center for the grant funds it is providing to cover the cost of tuition for those who decide to enroll. (Students will pay for books and travel.)

The Turner Center also graciously funded an event last August to introduce and explain the degree program to potential students. Dr. Meeks met with the group and, among many things, talked about how John Wesley served “in the world.”

As Dr. Meeks told the potential DMin candidates, if Christ’s love and forgiveness can’t be conveyed by our United Methodist churches in the midst of current events, we are no different than any other organization.

It is my hope that this DMin program will train and prepare these clergy to convey grace and share the gospel while “in the world” so others may learn and know the love of Christ.

~ Bishop Bill McAlilly, Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church (Middle and West Tennessee and Western Kentucky)


Council of Bishops takes action following same-gender ceremony

wtm.jpgBrothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the last several days the United Methodist Council of Bishops has been in session at Lake Junaluska, NC. Of the many topics on the agenda this week, none was more significant or more engaging than the discussion that resulted in this statement (posted below).

This statement from the Council of Bishops is a result of discernment, prayer, and deep reflection. It arises out of the recent actions of retired Bishop Melvin Talbert in the residential area of Bishop Debra Wallace-Padget.

Retired and resident bishops of The United Methodist Church throughout the world came to the Council of Bishops with widely different contexts, culturally and theologically, to craft the following points:
1. An acknowledgement of our dependence on God and our need for prayer
2. A recognition that United Methodists are not of one mind on the subject of human sexuality, and that there are deep divisions among Christians who read scripture in different ways and whose consciences move them to opposing convictions.
3. A direct response to the action of Bishop Talbert, which was in violation of the 2012 Book of Discipline by undermining the ministry of another.
4. A commitment to lead honest and respectful conversations around human sexuality, race, and gender in light of our theological convictions for the sake of our mission.

I ask you to note three facets of this development:
1. The General Conference, not the Council of Bishops, speaks for The United Methodist Church.
2. The Council of Bishops does not hold an individual bishop accountable; this practice is given by the General Conference to the (jurisdictional) College of Bishops.
3. The response of the bishops is a reflection on two subjects: a) the violation of the Discipline by a member of the clergy, b) the ongoing struggle of the church with our ministry with gay and lesbian persons.

As the resident bishop of the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences, I take seriously the calling to be a shepherd to the clergy and laity of the Nashville Area. I am aware that there are deep divisions among us on this subject. We are in a difficult time as we navigate the changing cultural landscape. We are also an incredibly diverse Church. I covet your prayers for all who are harmed by this action.

Peace and Deep Prayer,
– Bishop William T. “Bill” McAlilly

*For those who follow a number of bishops on these matters, Bishop Ken Carter was the chief architect of the above statement with slight variations for the Nashville Area. I am indebted to Bishop Carter for sharing his willingness to be collaborative. A small group of bishop colleagues collaborate on a number of issues of this nature from time to time.


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Council of Bishops
Contact: Diane Degnan (email)

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C.: Following the action of a retired bishop to conduct a same-gender ceremony in violation of church law, the United Methodist Council of Bishops took a series of actions to address the issue during their annual meeting this week in Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Council requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert’s action, for “undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple.”

“When there are violations of the Book of Discipline, a response is required,” the bishops said in a statement.

The Council also voted to initiate a task force to lead conversations about human sexuality, race and gender in a global perspective. The goal of this effort is to come to a shared theological understanding amid diverse opinions in the church about these issues.

These actions followed days of prayerful discernment and conversation about the action it would take after retired Bishop Melvin Talbert conducted a ceremony on Oct. 26 celebrating the marriage of a same-gender couple in Center Point, Ala. – a chargeable offense for United Methodist clergy.

Church law says that, “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”

Both the presiding bishop of the North Alabama area where the ceremony took place, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, and the Executive Committee of the Council had requested that Bishop Talbert not perform the ceremony.

Under church law, the College of Bishops – which is constituted of the bishops in a jurisdictional or central conference – has authority and accountability for processing complaints against a bishop who serves (or served) in that area, which would be the Western Jurisdiction in this instance.

Earlier this week in the President’s Address, Bishop Wenner acknowledged there is diversity of opinion about many issues in the church. “We have to lead together although we are not one minded. We do not need to hide that we are diverse,” she said. In the address, she also noted, “Serious conflicts have to be brought to the tables where leaders are present,” an acknowledgment that supports the plan for further discussion of the issue through a task force.

In a statement, the Council said that when followers of Christ and people of conscience hold conflicting views, honest and respectful conversation and prayer are needed throughout the church. The Council expressed pastoral care and concern for all people. (Read the full statement online.)

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Please pray and display Christ-like spirit in midst of our disagreement

Notice: Below is an image of letter head and a letter from the desk of Bishop McAlilly. If you can not see the image/read text, please CLICK HERE.

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More resources:
CLICK HERE to read “Bishops urge Bishop Talbert not to officiate same-sex union” by United Methodist Communications


Report shows older clergy bubble growing larger

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Contact: Joe Arnold (email)

2013 Clergy Age Trends Report Shows Older Clergy Bubble Growing Larger

2.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. – The number of older clergy continues to grow according to the Clergy Age Trends in the United Methodist Church report released today by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary. The annual report is prepared with assistance from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church.

Older Clergy Reach Historic High as Share of Elders
• Elders between ages 55 and 72 comprise 54 percent of all active elders, the highest percentage in history. This group reached 50 percent for the first time ever in 2010. This age cohort represented only 30 percent of active elders as recently as 2000. Previously their percentage of the total was even lower.
• This oldest cohort of active elders makes up 59 percent of elders in the Western Jurisdiction and 58 percent in the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
• The median age of elders remains at 55 in 2013, the highest in history, reached first in 2010. The median age was 50 in 2000 and 45 in 1973. The average age remains at 53, an historic high, and the mode age (the single age most represented) is now 61, also a high.

The Percentage of Middle Age Elders Continues to Shrink
• The percentage of elders aged 35 to 54 continues to shrink, from 65 percent of all active elders in 2000 to 39.81 percent in 2013. In addition, the total number of active elders decreased again in 2013 and all the loss took place in the middle age group, with modest increases in actual numbers for both young and older elders.

The Number of Young Clergy Stays about the Same
• There are more young elders, deacons, and local pastors than ten years ago, though the percentage of young elders remains low compared to historical patterns, though the trend line is up modestly but consistently.
• For example, there are more young elders than since before 2000, and the percentage of young elders is higher than since before 2000. Young elders as a percentage of all elders stayed in the 4 percent range in the first half of the 2000s and since then have made steady progress in the 5 percent range, moving closer to the 6 percent or higher range last seen in the 1990s.

Full Report Available for Download
Much more information is available in the complete Clergy Age Trends report, which is available as a free PDF download at http://www.churchleadership.com/clergyage. It shows the average and median ages of elders by United Methodist conference and features a breakdown of young, middle age, and older clergy by conference for elders, deacons, and local pastors.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary is pleased to provide this report as a service to the church.

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About Lewis Center | The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary seeks to advance the understanding of Christian leadership and promote the effective and faithful practice of Christian leadership in the church and the world. The center is building a new vision for church leadership grounded in faith, informed by knowledge and exercised in effective practice. The center seeks a holistic understanding of leadership that brings together theology and management, scholarship and practice, research and application. The Lewis Center serves as a resource for clergy and lay leaders, congregations and denominational leaders. Through teaching, research, publications and resources, the center supports visionary spiritual leaders and addresses key leadership issues crucial to the church’s faithful witness.


Area-wide retreat for Clergy Women, Sep. 26-27

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September 26-27, 2013 | Location: Beersheba Springs Assembly (MAP) | Please RSVP by Sep. 18

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Memphis & TN Conferences | Featuring Bishop Bill McAlilly
Delightful, interesting, thought provoking…moving”

> ONLINE REGISTRATION

THURSDAY
:
Arrive 5:30 pm for registration (either eat before you come or enjoy snacks provided)
7:00: Fun and games/get acquainted
8:00: Bishop McAlilly
9:00: Evening Devotional (Memphis)

FRIDAY
:
7:00 am: Breakfast
9:00: Morning Devotional (Tennessee)
9:30: Conversation
Noon: Lunch
1:00 pm: Local sights
2:30: Closing Conversation
3:30: Depart

> Cost: $60/room (2 per room covering Thursday evening lodging, snacks, and 2 meals on Friday)
Mail registration form and $25.00 deposit by 9/18 to:
316 W. Lytle Suite 101
Murfreesboro, TN  37130