|Mission Board to Develop "Branch Offices" In Africa, Asia, and Latin America|
Stamford, CT, April 26, 2007--The mission agency of The United Methodist Church plans to develop branch offices in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
"We are a denomination global in our attitudes and affections, and the time has come to make this visible in our operational structure," said the Rev. R. Randy Day in his semi-annual address to directors of the General Board of Global Ministries. Day is the chief executive of the organization that has personnel and projects in more than 125 countries.
One reason for the plan, Day said, is that the present growth of Christianity is in the Southern Hemisphere and the East: "For the last two centuries, seeds of faith have gone from the western and northern hemispheres and found fertile ground in the southern and eastern hemispheres ... We need to anticipate this shifting reality."
Only a day before his address, the Associated Press carried a lengthy story about the growth of The United Methodist Church outside of the United States. There are today almost 8 million members in the U.S. and some 3.5 in Africa, the Philippines, and Europe. These figures do not include the membership of autonomous Methodist Churches in Latin America and Asia where the mission board is also involved. U.S. membership has slowly declined in recent years.
Day said that the plan is for a structure that resembles universities that have schools in various locales under a single administration and board of directors. He said that many details remain to be worked out but that the branches "will have their own integrity, their unique contexts for mission, and participate in the full global vision, mission, and capacity of our work." He indicated that the branches will cover a variety of mission activities:
Day stated that the decentralized approach will greatly underscore the concept of partnership in mission.
Date posted: Apr 27, 2007