Social Principles Consultations to Set Process


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) is accepting applications for persons to participate in consultations to consider a process about how to make the United Methodist Social Principles more succinct, theologically founded and globally relevant.

Eight consultations are planned: six in Central Conferences and two in the United States.

Eight consultations are planned: six in Central Conferences and two in the United States. Some dates have been adjusted for logistical reasons, including new application deadlines, and a consultation for the Philippines has been added since this was announced last month.

The consultations are a preliminary step to develop a recommendation to the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-setting body, to fund a process of six to eight public hearings across the connection. Those hearings will lead to a proposal to the 2020 General Conference to update the Social Principles more succinct, theologically founded and globally relevant.

Assess Social Principles

The 2012 General Conference approved establishing a process to assess the Social Principles, which call all members of the denomination to a prayerful, studied dialogue of faith and practice. Their preface in the 2012 Book of Discipline, the United Methodist book of laws, states that the Social Principles are “a call to faithfulness, and are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit.” The Rev. Neal Christie, GBCS assistant general secretary for Education & Leadership Formation, is spearheading the consultations. He said two GBCS staff members and two members of a task force approved by the agency’s Board of Directors will attend each consultation.

Other board members in a consultation region are also invited to attend.

3 questions

Each consultation comprising about 20 persons will last two days and focus on three questions:

  1. What role do the current Social Principles play in enhancing the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church?
  2. How much or how well have the current Social Principles served to empower mission and ministry in your geographical area?
  3. What might globally relevant Social Principles look like?

Consultations and their dates are as follows:

  • Sept. 26-27, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    Participants will be selected from the Congo Central and the Ivory Coast conferences. Primary language will be French with English translation provided.
  • Oct. 17-18, Maputo, Mozambique.
    Africa Central Conference. Primary language Portuguese with English translation provided. Deadline to apply Sept. 15.
  • Nov. 14-15, Baguio, Philippines.
    Deadline to apply Sept. 30.
  • Dec. 14-15, Prague, Czech Republic.
    Northern Europe & Eurasia, Germany, Central and Southern Europe central conferences. Deadline to apply Oct. 15.
  • Jan. 16-17, 2015, Washington, D.C.
    U.S. jurisdictions. Deadline to apply Dec. 15.
  • Jan. 23-24, 2015, Washington, D.C.
    U.S. jurisdictions. Deadline to apply Dec. 15.
  • Date to be determined: Abuja, Nigeria.
    West Africa Central Conference. Primary language English.

A first consultation was held in Tagaytay, Philippines, during the Division on Young People Conference last month.

Application process

The consultations are being funded through the denomination’s World Service Contingency Fund. Participants will be selected from criteria representing the diversity of the United Methodist connection. Christie said experience and competencies in theology, ethics and practices that shape the mission and ministry of the Social Principles in a region will be important.

To apply to participate in any of these consultations, complete the application on the GBCS website: Consultation Application.

The General Board of Church & Society will cover costs for participant transportation, lodging and meals during the consultations.

Findings will be considered by GBCS’s Board of Directors in February 2015.

Task force members

GBCS Board of Directors on the consultations task force are the following:

  • North Central Jurisdiction: Karen Cook (West Ohio) and Dan Dick (Wisconsin)
  • Northeastern Jurisdiction: Kathleen Kind (Susquehanna)
  • South Central Jurisdiction: Richard Jones (Northwest Texas) and Saul Trinidad (Southwest Texas)
  • Southeastern Jurisdiction: Lisa Garvin (Mississippi) and Haniel Garibay (Virginia)
  • Western Jurisdiction: Randall Miller (California-Nevada)
  • Central Conferences: Daniel Obergfell (Germany), Manuel Andre (Angola) and Nancy Nicolas (Philippines).

Regional task force representatives are the following:

  • Bishop Christian Alsted (Denmark)
  • Jefferson Knight (Liberia)
  • Joseph Masawu Muhota (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Jöerg Niederer (Switzerland)

The Division on Ministries with Young People has been asked to name three representatives to the task force.

For more information

For more information about the consultations or the application process, including obtaining an application in French, German or Portuguese, contact Katie Montfortte (, (202) 488-5679, or the Rev. Neal Christie, (, (202) 488-5611.

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.