Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Laceye C. Warner, associate professor of the practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies, and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Teaching Fellow at Duke Divinity School, has written a new book providing an introduction to United Methodist polity as well as the denomination’s governance described in its Book of Discipline.

Abingdon Press published the new book, The Method of Our Mission: United Methodist Polity and Organization, earlier this summer.

Warner’s text offers a theological frame informed by the Wesleyan and wider Christian tradition through which to understand the denomination’s doctrine, ministry, and organization. Theology shapes who we are and how we organize to transform the world, Warner explains.

Especially written for required United Methodist classes, this accessible book uses a Wesleyan theological frame—connection—to help readers understand United Methodism’s polity and organization as the interrelationship of beliefs, mission, and practices of Methodists.

The book is organized into four parts—United Methodist beliefs, mission, practice, and organization. Polity and organization are primary embodiments of The United Methodist Church. Functional in nature, these aspects of the denomination facilitate the UMC’s mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world, according to Warner. This book connects denominational governance and organization to Methodist beliefs as well as mission.

A clear understanding of identity—particularly as Methodists with Wesleyan roots in connection and purpose to make disciples for the transformation of the world—can help students of United Methodism navigate this treacherous landscape as present and future leaders, she states.

Warner also addresses the estrangement between theology and institutional structures and practice by framing governance practices and organizational structure within a Wesleyan theology of connection. This approach will assist current and future denominational leaders in understanding their practices of administration and participation in polity as a theological endeavor and key component of their ministries.

A 1995 graduate of Duke Divinity School’s M.Div. program, Warner has taught at the Divinity School since 2001 and is also the school’s executive vice dean.