In 2016, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (our global governing body of lay and clergy delegates) voted to empower our Council of Bishops to help the UMC find a way to deal with our denominational impasse around the full inclusion of persons who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Key issues include same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy.
Knowing that the General Conference has been divided for years, the Bishops convened the Commission on the Way Forward, a multi-national group including 32 people who identified on all sides of the issues. The commission included 8 bishops, 13 other clergy members, and 11 lay members. Their task was to study the issues in depth, pray with one another, and present the bishops with their best recommendations for how to proceed faithfully forward. In the past few months, the commission has made its recommendations to the bishops and the bishops have suggested several optional plans for the UMC to pursue in the coming years.
In February 2019, there will be a special convening of the General Conference in St. Louis specifically devoted to weighing these plans and potentially voting on one. The results of that General Conference could have major ramifications for local congregations, their ability to minister to their congregants (especially the LGBTQ community), and their connections to other Methodist churches.
Because the actions of the 2019 General Conference could have wide-ranging impact across the denomination, we have tried provide ample opportunities for members of West End UMC to learn more about this process, what the outcomes may be, and the potential impact on our congregation in the year ahead. A video of our Information Session is available below. Also, to allow as many church members as possible to have a voice in this process, we have made questions that were asked during our church-wide listening sessions available to be answered online here.
Ways To Learn More About Finding Our Way Forward
A Way Forward: Information Session
To see more about the members of our delegation, please visit http://www.tnumc.org/delegates.
Here is a link to several resources that help all of us to be in prayer together: https://www.tnumc.org/praying-our-way-forward/
Rev. Tom Berlin’s instructive overview of where we are: https://vimeo.com/217081225
Testimonies from members of the Commission on a Way Forward: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/commission-on-a-way-forward-releases-final-videos-for-2019-general-conferen