Plan seeks to reverse UM decline


A plan for rebuilding membership in the United Methodist Church requires four “A’s.”

Presented at the Southeastern and National Network of Congregational Developers meetings in Virginia Beach, Va., the plan calls for the denomination to become pro-active amidst this crisis. The plan says Methodists must be willing to be:

  • Agile — able to respond to change quickly as they develop in society
  • Adaptable — able to respond to external changes that impact our society
  • Alert — awareness of cultural trends
  • Aligning — adjusting our existing structures in order to serve our mission

Among those attending the Feb. 28-March 3 event was the Rev. Embra Jackson, administrative assistant to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. “The meetings were an excellent source for information sharing, networking, planning and helping our denomination to help fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ,” Jackson said.

Among statistics presented at the event:

  • Between 1776 and 1850, Methodists rose from less than 3 percent of the U.S. church members to 34 percent (largest religions body).
  • Methodists averaged planting one new church a day between 1870 and 1920.
  • During the last 35 years, the United Methodist Church has been involved in membership loss.
  • Since 1970, the denomination has lost approximately 2,603,696 members
  • In 2004, the United Methodist Church lost an average of 1,500 members per week

The Mississippi Conference is responding to this crisis through several means. However, the major means will be through planting several new churches later this year. The conference is also called, under the Rev. Bryan Collier’s leadership, to develop a Mississippi School of Congregational Development.