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 want to 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. We will be providing informational sessions designed to give you all the basic details you need to know about what is happening. Additionally, we will offer discussion groups in various homes throughout the city for further discussion with other West Enders around these issues. Please put these upcoming opportunities on your schedule and plan to attend as we learn and discern about the future of the UMC and our congregation at West End.
Ways To Learn More About Finding Our Way Forward
A Way Forward: Information Session
Wednesday, August 29 // 6 - 7 p.m. // McWhirter Hall
Join us to learn more about the nuts and bolts of the issues at hand, the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the 2019 General Conference, and West End’s own journey forward. Slides and informational material will also be available online. We suggest you attend one of these sessions or watch the session online prior to attending a small group conversation.
- A Way Forward Small Group Conversations
Continue the discussion in a small group setting at a time and location most convenient for you. All conversations will be conducted by trained facilitators and will encourage deeper conversation about the potential outcomes of General Conference 2019 and the impact on our congregation at WEUMC. Register for a conversation below or at westendumc.org/wayforward.
Note: More small group conversations may be added in the future, depending on interest. Facilitators may also be available to visit pre-existent small groups, classes, et cetera, upon request. Contact Anita Schmid to inquire, email@example.com.
Sunday, September 30 // 2 - 3:30 p.m. // Green Hills Area
Home of Cathy Shull
Tuesday, October 2 // Forest Hills Area
Home of Anita Schmid and Ty Finch
Wednesday, October 17 // 6 - 7:30 p.m.
West End UMC // Room 321
Wednesday, November 14 // 6 - 7:30 p.m.
West End UMC // Room 321
Tennessee Conference UMC Delegate Listening Sessions
In addition to our opportunities for learning and sharing at West End, there will be several opportunities in the Nashville Area to visit with the delegates from our Tennessee Annual Conference who will represent the churches in our area at the special General Conference in 2019. This is an opportunity to hear from them and to voice your hopes and concerns for the work of the upcoming General Conference. To see more about the members of our delegation, please visit http://www.tnumc.org/delegates.
Sunday, October 21 // 3 - 5 p.m.
Donelson Heights UMC
84 Fairway Drive Nashville, TN 37214
Sunday, November 4 // 3 - 5 p.m.
Clark Memorial UMC
1014 14th Ave N Nashville, TN
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