What happened at General Conference 2020? This session of the official United Methodist lay speaker polity course may not yet have all the answers, but we’ll dig into the reports and analysis of what happened when the dust settled May 15 to understand what it means for all of us, wherever our various congregations find ourselves going forward.
Also, no matter where our churches find themselves, there will be defining Methodist principles which every daughter organization will surely carry forward. Why does Methodism do things the way it does? Why is our pastor being reassigned? Why don’t we get to vote on our new pastor? What are the rules for congregational operations and money management – and why are they the rules? And what does any of this have to do with trying to be a place and a people that embody the Kingdom of God?
This course will help church leaders answer questions, help newcomers get their bearings, and help longtime members consider the specific structural challenges the church faces in the 21st Century, and specifically after GC2020.
Participants must obtain the book The Method of Our Mission: United Methodist Polity & Organization by Laceye C. Warner, which is not included in the course fee. This is the official book for this course chosen by Discipleship Ministries. Participants should be prepared to read assignments and post their reflections on the discussion boards daily, but there is no set time to be online. This is an intense course. Participants are urged to read it before the course starts, to make it more relaxed and fun. Also, of course, there will be reading of reporting from General Conference!
This course has been approved by Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in Lay Servant Ministries, and is the “polity” course required for Lay Speaker certification.
This course is eligible for 1.0 CEU.
About the Instructor
Beth Galbreath is a United Methodist deacon whose specialty is “digital culture ministry,” which includes everything the Church needs to do to move from the print-literate culture of the last five centuries to the digital-communication culture of the 21st. She is one of the few (but proud!) graduates of the former Lumicon Institute’s certification program in digital culture ministry. “Digital culture ministry” is not just about technology; it includes re-emphasis on spiritual formation practices. To that end she holds a master’s from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in spiritual formation and evangelism. She loves to bring a multimedia, multi-intelligence approach to classes.
Digital culture ministry is also about ancient-future worship arts and education styles, especially an emphasis on story; to that end she is a passionate biblical storyteller and teacher. She is an ambassador of the Network of Biblical Storytellers International and coordinates the NBSI-related Chicago-area Prairie Wind Guild: Tellers of Sacred Stories. She’s taught biblical storytelling abroad in Cameroon, Bolivia, Haiti and the Philippines.
Beth serves the Northern Illinois Conference as co-chair of its Order of Deacons, and is a certified Natural Church Development coach. She also serves on the pastoral leadership team of Compassion UMC in Brookfield, IL, a new church plant. Her ministry includes consulting, teaching, and small group leadership. She is also an activist for solar energy, prison ministry, interfaith understanding, and eco-sustainability. Rev. Galbreath is the author of The Story and the Feast, a digital resource (three CDs of text and slides) of liturgy for Holy Communion, connected to the weekly stories and texts of the lectionary, and including notes for biblical storytellers.
Past Students Said…
“I now see UMC polity as more than just a book of rules and a bunch of meetings, but one of the guides we have to help us make disciples for Christ!” – Roxanne Walker
“This is my third or fourth class with Beth as leader. …I was concerned this could be a “discipline” study rather than a “connection” study. I should have known better given who our teacher was. I have learned a great deal. High up on the list of why these classes work so well is the interaction with other classmates, committed Christians, with questions and answers worth listening to. I am grateful for the opportunity to share and grow together. Thank you.” – Steve Kesler
“I will definitely use this class in my ministry and my life! I have already been sharing what I am learning with members of my congregation. In reading articles and announcements about the UM Church I feel so much more informed and in tune. This class has given me a new appreciation for the United Methodist Church and makes me so excited for my next class on UM Beliefs.” – Kathryn Biggs
“For being a 50+ year member of the UMC, I learned that I am really a novice in my knowledge of the structure and administration of the church. I would definitely recommend this class to others; I have enjoyed it so much that I have already signed up for two additional studies [and] I have made contacts that offer the possibility of being lifelong.” – Everett Lerew
“This journey has been a wonderful blessing. I want to thank the class and our spirit filled instructor. The material covered was very in-depth and current. … This week at our charge Lay meeting I will highly recommend this great class. The price is reasonable, lessons are easily applied to service, and Beth leads in a way that allows all to share and learn. This has been an informative three weeks, a blessing in love. ” – Michael Lambert
“Beth turned a topic that could have been quite boring into an exciting three weeks.” – Larry Ketcham
“I am sure I will be able to apply what I learned in this class! I already have been able to at council meetings and help my pastor with membership issues that arose during the class. While this class was going on I probably applied it 5 times, thats only in 3 weeks! I am sure I will use what I gained here almost every week, if not, every week!” – Nico Kinner
“This is the second course I have taken online with BeADisciple, and although they were very different, each had the unique power to inspire me to dig deeper into the subject matter. Yes, Polity is not a course that one approaches eagerly, but Beth’s summaries and resources made this an excellent experience. I only have two more courses to certify as Lay Speaker, but you can be assured that I will take additional courses and recommend others to this excellent opportunity.” – Carol Swinney
“Wow! Much more than I expected, that is for sure! I did not realize how little I knew about the organizational structure of UMC, the methods of how each support, interact with each other, and how the jurisprudence process works within UMC. The class format served as a great communication process for learning more about the needs in respective churches and conferences. Many resources were provided to learn more and stay up-to-date with what is going on within so many areas of UMC.”