Friday, May 07, 2010

A Single General Superintendent?!

Yesterday I pointed out that the General Board of Administration of The Wesleyan Church had voted to explore serious connections with other holiness denominations like the Nazarenes. This discussion has been going on for some time and in fact this is partially a response to a resolution along these lines that the Nazarenes passed at their last general conference. In other words, this is a very serious proposal with significant intent by the leaders of at least these two denominations. I fully expect there to be a "merger" or "connection" proposal of some kind at the 2012 General Conference.

One of the other significant changes is a restructuring of the offices at Wesleyan headquarters. All the duties of the Discipline will be performed by the appropriately elected officials, but HQ will be using different names and operational patterns until it either becomes permanent at the next general conference or it is rejected as permanent or we merge making it moot.

JoAnne Lyon is, in effect, the only person at HQ they will be calling a General Superintendent for the remainder of this quadrennium, even though Tom Armiger and Jerry Pence will continue to perform the duties they are assigned by the Discipline as elected general superintendents. Instead, they will be heading two new offices: Pence will head "Local Church Services" and Armiger will head "Administration and Communication Services."

From one point of view, one might think that this is a centralization of power, but I believe quite on the contrary that it represents a further dismantling of the "top-down" system. Lyon has not become a pope but rather less power is being invested in this highest point of the church than ever before. It should be viewed as "two leaders have been pealed off" rather than "power has been invested in one."

I believe this move should be viewed in part as a preparation for merger (where we would only be able to contribute something like one leader) and probably (and here I'm just guessing) as a matter of financial streamlining.


David Drury said...

Let's see how this goes this next year. Glad they are trying it out as a trial run. Wise.

I've seen Lyons, Armiger & Pence work well together in collaboration as equals trying to figure out how to lead as a three-headed beast. Perhaps this new structure will be more effective in streamlining decision-making and pushing more catalyzing power to the front lines... or perhaps it will need to be retooled into something similar with one top person but a different structure below.

I've been in support of one point person (whomever it would be) for a long time, and know a few dozen old-timers that have been looking for this since the 80s.


::athada:: said...

Hail Pope(a) Lyons!

JRS said...

Since one of The Wesleyan Church’s core values and beliefs is local church centeredness, I wonder how the reorganization pilot program and merger exploration will support local churches.

Up to this point, this has not been a transparent process. Consequently it’s easy to wonder what is really going on. Perhaps the people involved don’t believe local churches will agree with this new direction.

Personally, I believe the initiatives are well intentioned. However, good intentions only get a respectful hearing. Open information sharing has the potential of winning support. The Wesleyan Church tends to keep secrets when it should be sharing openly and soliciting feedback.