Petition 80160

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Committee on Faith and Order (80160-FO-¶1900-!)

Add new ¶¶1907 through 1912 and renumber following paragraphs as appropriate.
   ¶ 1907.  There shall be a Committee on Faith and Order which while functioning with the authority of an independent committee (¶ 701.2, 2004 Book of Discipline) shall, for purposes of staffing, budgeting and financial affairs, reside under the auspices of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.  
  
   ¶ 1908.  Purpose --- The Committee on Faith and Order shall give leadership to The United Methodist Church in reflecting upon, discerning and living out matters of faith, doctrinal teaching, order, and discipline in the midst of mission and ministry in the church and the world.  The Committee shall be a visible expression of the commitment of The United Methodist Church to carry on informed theological reflection for the current time in dynamic continuity with the historic Christian faith, our common heritage as Christians grounded in the apostolic witness, and our distinctive Wesleyan heritage. The Committee shall be charged with three broad responsibilities:
  
      1.    To lead and coordinate studies commissioned by the General Conference in matters related to the faith, doctrine, order and discipline of the church.
    2.    To support and provide resources upon request to the Council of Bishops in their responsibility to “guard, transmit, teach and proclaim, corporately and individually the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically.”
    3.    To prepare and provide resources and study materials to the General Church upon request from the General Conference, Council of Bishops, or Connectional Table.
    
   ¶ 1909.  Responsibilities --- The responsibilities of the Committee on Faith and Order shall be:  
    1.    To provide a venue and context for on-going conversation on matters of faith, doctrine, order and discipline.
    2.    To draw upon scholars and scholarship in Biblical studies, Biblical theology, systematic theology, historical theology, Christian ethics, Wesleyan studies, and other areas thereby providing expertise and knowledge to lead and assist the church in addressing matters of faith and order critical to the life, ministry and mission of the church.
    3.    To receive and administer mandates from General Conference for studies on matters that require significant inquiry into and application of the faith and order of the church.
    a.    The Committee shall nominate from its own membership and from others those who are to serve on various study committees and teams, and present these nominations to the Council of Bishops for approval.
        b.    The Committee may, with approval of the Council of Bishops, carry out the mandated study internally or may create such committees and teams using members from within the Committee and others from beyond the Committee as may be required by the volume and complexity of work.
c.    The Committee itself and all committees and teams empowered by the Committee shall include racial/ethnic and gender diversity, regional representation, and shall model effective representation of the theological diversity of the United Methodist Church.
        4.    To coordinate and provide for effective interaction and communication among various study committees, commissions and teams when multiple studies have been mandated.
    5.    Upon request to provide research and resourcing for the Council in Bishops in matters related to faith, doctrine, order and discipline.
    6.    To make provision for the preparation and dissemination of study documents and materials for the church upon request of the General Conference, Council of Bishops or Connectional Table.
    7.    To bring all studies, materials or publications as appropriate to the Council of Bishops or the General Conference for approval and action.
    
     ¶ 1910.  Authorities and Powers --- The Committee on Faith and Order shall have the authority and power to fulfill all the responsibilities noted in ¶ 1908 and 1909.  The Committee on Faith and Order shall be amenable to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Between sessions of the General Conference, the Committee shall be accountable to the Connectional Table by reporting and interpreting activities designed to fulfill the purpose of the Committee and by cooperating with the Connectional Table in fulfillment of its legislated responsibilities.
  
   ¶  1911.  Membership --- The Committee on Faith and Order shall be organized each quadrennium and shall be composed of twenty-four persons chosen as follows:
    1.    Six bishops shall serve as members including the Ecumenical Officer of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church and five other bishops assigned by the Council of Bishops.  
    2.    Six members shall be nominated by the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools chosen from the faculties of seminaries affiliated with The United Methodist Church.  The Association of United Methodist Theological Schools shall rotate nominations from among the seminaries on a basis established by itself.
    3.    After consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns shall nominate six members at its first meeting following the close of General Conference each quadrennium.
    4.    Six members who are not bishops shall be chosen by the Council of Bishops.
    5.    All twenty four members of the Committee shall be approved and elected by the Council of Bishops at its fall meeting following the General Conference each quadrennium.
    6.    One half of the Committee shall be clergy and one half laity.  One third of the membership shall be persons of minority racial/ethnic identity.  
    7.    In its capacity of providing spiritual and doctrinal leadership, the Council of Bishops shall exercise oversight in the nomination and election of members with regard to Central Conference inclusion, geographic diversity, and age representation; it shall also ensure that the Committee models effective representation of the theological diversity of The United Methodist Church.
    8.    Membership on the staff or board of directors of any other general agency does not make one ineligible to serve as a member of this committee, ¶¶710.5 and 714.6 to the contrary notwithstanding.
    ¶ 1912. Organization --- The Committee on Faith and Order shall be organized as follows:
  
    1.    The Committee shall elect from its episcopal membership a chairperson and from its total membership other officers as it may determine.
    2.    There shall be an executive committee of the Committee with powers as determined by the Committee.
    3.    The Committee shall meet for organizational purposes each quadrennium prior to the end of the year in which the General Conference is held.
4.    The Committee shall meet at least annually and at such other times as it shall deem necessary.  A majority of members of the Committee shall constitute a quorum.  The Committee may conduct meetings by telephone conference or video conference, or make decisions by mail ballot or other method, provided that notification of all members is ensured and the provision of quorum is met.

Rationale

UMC requires a forum for faith and order.  Requisites: theologians, episcopal leadership, laity, and independence from another agency. It does not need an independent staff or permanent structure.  GCCUIC, with its staff relationship to the Council of Bishops and relationship with other Christians, is ideal for staff and logistical support.