As United Methodists, our biblical and Wesleyan heritage calls us to transform urban churches and communities with holy boldness. A comprehensive urban-ministry plan called Holy Boldness sets forth a vision, goal areas, and outcomes to organize and resource congregations and church-based community organizations for transforming urban and suburban congregations and communities through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Holy Boldness is a grassroots movement that empowers congregations and church-based organizations to develop local strategies for urban ministry. Its objective is to work within present structures and existing resources to leverage new opportunities for urban ministry.
In support and acknowledgment of the valuable role of Holy Boldness in the life of the church, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church reaffirms the Holy Boldness plan and:
(1) commends the ministry of urban churches and church-based organizations that share the gospel of Jesus Christ through prophetic vision and proclaiming God's Word;
(2) urges more congregations and church-based organizations to become covenanting partners with the Holy Boldness Urban Ministry Plan and work toward developing and carrying out local strategies that address Holy Boldness goal areas: contextual urban theology, urban evangelism, leadership development, community economic development, eradication of racism, strengthening multicultural relationships, and health and healing;
(3) urges the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Global Ministries to support public policy initiatives based on the goals of Holy Boldness;
(4) mandates the general church agencies staff having responsibility for urban concerns and/or the general secretary's designee(s) from Religion and Race, Discipleship, Global Ministries, Communications, Higher Education and Ministry, Council on Ministries, and Church and Society, and a representative from the Council of Bishops to work together to develop collaborative agency strategies for resourcing as well as to review existing resources that may be channeled for the Holy Boldness Urban Ministry Plan;
(5) charges the designated representative staff of the previously cited general church agencies to work with the Office of Urban Ministries of the General Board of Global Ministries to report to the 2004 General Conference on the effectiveness of the Holy Boldness Urban Ministry Plan's ability to:
(a) organize and mobilize congregations and church-based organizations to accomplish local church and community transformation, and
(b) evaluate the effectiveness of collaboration within the general church agencies to resource and enable the plan to be carried out in local urban contexts.
Holy Boldness: A National Urban Ministry Plan
Change is inevitable, but transformation is optional. As The United Methodist Church, we have the opportunity to transform urban churches and communities with holy boldness. The Holy Boldness plan is not an exact plan, but a dynamic tool for organizing and mobilizing people for urban transformation. It recognizes that there are regional and local differences and invites churches and church-based community organizations to develop local strategies to carry out the Holy Boldness goals.
The goal areas identified for this plan were determined through a national survey of laity, pastors, church-related community-organization staff, conference staff, and bishops. The plan does not presume to address every urban church and community need, but it is a first step toward organizing and mobilizing United Methodists to work locally on goals for church and community transformation. The goal areas are:
(1) Urban theology;
(2) Urban evangelism and congregational development;
(3) Eradicating racism and other forms of oppression;
(4) Developing and strengthening multicultural relationships;
(5) Community economic development;
(6) Leadership development; and
(7) Wholeness, healing, and health.
While there are serious urban problems inside and outside the church, transformation is possible through the resources and strengths of the church and community. The Holy Boldness plan calls for churches and communities to identify their assets and build on these assets as people are mobilized for transformation. Some of the assets are:
(1) God's transforming power through Jesus Christ;
(2) The local church and church-based community organizations;
(3) The people in churches and cities who represent a wide variety of racial and ethnic traditions and have the talents for transformation;
(4) United Methodist general agencies and schools; and
(5) Ecumenical and interfaith partners.
As a church, we are blessed with congregations, church-related community organizations, and institutions that seek to transform urban communities. All are important to the life of urban communities and will be challenged to work toward the goals of the Urban Plan. The plan calls for a significant focus on local urban congregations that are in need of development, are strategically located, and have the opportunity to share God's love in word and deed. If the church is to transform communities, the local church is critical.
Urban transformation requires a collaborative effort by local churches working in cooperation with other denominations, community organizations, businesses, and governmental institutions. Collaboration will need to continue to occur beyond city limits by collaborating with suburban and central city churches that have committed volunteers, resources and relational roots in inner-city neighborhoods, and with exurbia churches that share similar problems, all of which strengthen ministry.
Collaboration will also need to continue to occur at the national level. General church agencies working together to identify common strategies can realize mutual accomplishments. The national strategies should link with local strategies and needs. National collaboration must also involve other ecumenical and interfaith bodies and national urban resources.
The Urban Plan invites people, churches, church-based community organizations, and church agencies to covenant to work toward the established goals. Churches and organizations will continue to review the plan and make a commitment to work toward the goals in their setting. Covenanting churches and groups will continue to become part of a nationwide network for support, idea development, and resourcing. Hundreds of churches and church-related organizations/agencies will be invited to covenant to work toward the plan's goals.
Churches and church-related community organizations will continue to be encouraged to take authority and responsibility in being bold and holy to accomplish the Urban Ministry Plan goals. This will continue to require local strategies and local ownership. With God's help, transformation of urban congregations and communities is possible.
United Methodist Urban Ministry Vision
The United Methodist Church must practice "holy boldness" in urban areas as evidenced by the church:
(1) risking all we have to share God's transforming love as experienced through Jesus Christ in both word and deed;
(2) ministering with and among the poor;
(3) transforming and developing urban congregations;
(4) celebrating and honoring diversity within the congregation, church-related organizations, agencies, and the community;
(5) living and proclaiming God's justice and equality in every situation without fear of being isolated and ridiculed;
(6) being an agent for healing in the midst of broken lives and communities; and
(7) effectively developing the spiritual, social, and physical well-being of individuals and communities.
(1) urban leaders must teach within churches and church-related organizations, and be examples in the community that urban ministry is based in the person, ministry, and stories of Jesus Christ, who provided an example of meeting the physical needs of others and proclaiming the saving power of God;
(2) expand the urban academy with a strong urban theology component, as well as practical components for carrying out our theology in the world through community development, eliminating racism, strengthening multicultural relationships, urban evangelism, leadership development; and
(3) encourage congregations to model a theology that serves all people and focuses on the poor and marginalized.
Urban Evangelism and Congregational Development:
The United Methodist Church must:
(1) develop the necessary support and systems to enable longer pastoral appointments;
(2) design resources and training to help congregations communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively in a diverse and changing urban environment;
(3) use existing resources and develop new resources for urban congregational Bible study to deepen people's faith and challenge them to live the gospel;
(4) develop a prayer network that links churches in partnerships (this can include urban churches with suburban or exurbia churches); and
(5) increase the number of worshipers in urban congregations through evangelism and outreach to the neighborhood in which the church is located and other community networks.
Eradicating Racism and Other Forms of Oppression:
The United Methodist Church must:
(1) oganize local and national support systems for those willing to risk pursuing the vision and agenda of eliminating racism;
(2) highlight model programs that challenge and work toward eradicating racism and other forms of oppression in the congregation and the community so that other congregations can develop similar efforts; and
(3) be sensitive to racism in all urban training experiences.
Developing and Strengthening Multicultural Relationships:
The United Methodist Church must:
(1) develop the resources for, and encourage congregations to participate in, cultural immersion and cross-cultural experiences; and
(2) design new and use existing church resources for the arts, music, worship, and Bible study that model, encourage, and strengthen multiculturalism.
Community Economic Development:
(1) continue and further expand the Communities of Shalom Initiative as a holistic strategy for developing communities and strengthening congregations;
(2) provide training and technical assistance to help churches engage in systemic change and community economic development by working with an existing community-development corporation or by starting a community-development corporation where necessary;
(3) assist churches in learning how they can raise additional dollars for community development from sources outside the church;
(4) assist congregations in utilizing their buildings for community economic development and outreach; and
(5) continue to support the national United Methodist community-development loan fund that helps United Methodist congregations and individuals invest money for community development through churches.
(1) expand the Hispanic Plan model of lay missioner for urban leadership;
(2) empower laity and clergy for ministry and mission by educating them to work through the structure of The United Methodist Church;
(3) continue training lay and clergy leadership for urban ministry, including advocacy and effective change in public and private life; and
(4) intentionally recruit more clergy and laity for urban ministry and offer them opportunities to be involved in "hands-on" experiences.
Wholeness, Healing, and Health:
(1) The United Methodist Church must increase the understanding of how people are marginalized and what can be done to develop wholeness, healing, and health;
(2) assist congregations in developing a comprehensive understanding of how they can be healing agents in their neighborhoods and bring about a healthy community;
(3) challenge congregations and agencies to develop ways to improve the spiritual, social, and physical well-being of individuals and communities;
(4) communicate through the Holy Boldness network models of ministry with the homeless, the hungry, people who are HIV-positive, individuals who are physically and mentally ill, victims of violence, and people with addictions; and
(5) publicize successful models where spiritual development by congregations and/or community organizations has brought about wholeness, healing, and health in urban settings.
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2000
See Social Principles, ¶ 162P.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.