Author: Bishop Bruce Blake, retired
I am excited as I consider the future of the United Methodist Church being reformed on the basis of the One Church Plan. This plan provides the opportunity for faithfulness as we engage the evangelistic task of the United Methodist Church. In 1976 I had the privilege of chairing the legislative committee on Conferences at General Conference. The implementation of the constitutional provision for central conferences was debated in this committee. The prevailing argument was that flexibility, not uniformity, was essential for the evangelistic task of the church throughout the world. This proposal assures that we have learned from our central conferences that flexibility not uniformity is essential as we remain committed to open doors, hearts, and minds.
The One Church Plan is in the best sense traditional, maintaining the ethos and practice of the Methodist movement; that which is local is that which is felt, whether it be pain or grace. The tradition of the United Methodist Church has always held that the ” pastor in charge” appointed to serve, has the authority to determine matters of the administration of the sacraments, church membership, and marriage. The tradition of the United Methodist Church has always upheld the authority of the local church, through the trustees, to determine the use of local church buildings. This proposal affirms these traditional foundations of our life together.
The One Church Plan is Biblical, not textual. The United Methodist Church affirms that the Word of God is contained in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the container of the truth not the truth in and of itself, that is, literally true in every text. As followers of Jesus, United Methodists use the life and teachings of Jesus as the lens through which we determine the Word of God. This proposal is based on the whole biblical witness, the truth being revealed most clearly in the life and teachings of Jesus.
The One Church Plan is exciting to explore as it focuses on the future of the United Methodist Church affirming the world community as our parish. It enables us to celebrate the diverse world created by the God of Love and Truth. It enables us to be engaged in the ministry of reconciliation, living and working with those with whom we disagree. It enables us to celebrate our unity which is centered on the mission to which God has called the United Methodist Church of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It is anchored in the thought of John Wesley, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” (Wesley’s sermon: “The Character of a Methodist.”
The One Church Plan enables us to move forward together!