The information presented here was used to begin facilitating congregational conversations about The Commission on a Way Forward. Everyone in The United Methodist Church is encouraged to review not only these materials (and other items related to this topic), but to also spend time in prayer and conversation about how we can best fulfill the calling to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Please contact the pastors if you have any questions about this commission, the council of bishops, or the special Called General Conference in 2019.


About the Commission

The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.

Please watch this video of the Council of Bishops president Bishop Bruce R. Ough at the United Methodist General Conference on May 18, 2016 as he announces the creation of this commission:

Mission

The Commission will bring together persons deeply committed to the future(s) of The United Methodist Church, with an openness to developing new relationships with each other and exploring the potential future(s) of our denomination in light of General Conference and subsequent annual, jurisdictional and central conference actions. We have a profound hope and confidence in the Triune God, and yet we acknowledge that we do this work in a climate of skepticism and distrust, from a human point of view. We are a connection, and we admit that our communion is strained; yet much transformative mission across our world is the fruit of our collaboration. The matters of human sexuality and unity are the presenting issues for a deeper conversation that surfaces different ways of interpreting Scripture and theological tradition. The work is meant to inform deliberation across the whole church and to help the Council of Bishops in their service to the next General Conference in finding a way forward.

Vision

The Commission will design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible. This unity will not be grounded in our conceptions of human sexuality, but in our affirmation of the Triune God who calls us to be a grace-filled and holy people in the Wesleyan tradition.

Scope

We should be open to new ways of embodying unity that move us beyond where we are in the present impasse and cycle of action and reaction around ministry and human sexuality. Therefore, we should consider new ways of being in relationship across cultures and jurisdictions, in understandings of episcopacy, in contextual definitions of autonomy for annual conferences, and in the design and purpose of the apportionment. In reflection on the two matters of unity and human sexuality, we will fulfill our directive by considering “new forms and structures” of relationship and through the “complete examination and possible revision” of relevant paragraphs in the Book of Discipline. We will give consideration to greater freedom and flexibility to a future United Methodist Church that will redefine our present connectionality, which is showing signs of brokenness. If we ignore this work, fracturing will occur in more haphazard and even self-interested ways across the church. If we do this work only to address our preferences and self-interest, we will fail to place our complete trust in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. If we do this work with complete surrender to God’s unlimited imagination and kingdom purposes, we will be blessed beyond our limited human imagination. God remains God; God is with us; God will never let us go. To God be the glory!


Talking About LGBTQ Inclusion in The U.M.C.

Tom Berlin, a member of The Commission on a Way Forward and a pastor in the Virginia Annual Conference, offers his thoughts and perspectives on the various viewpoints and theology behind LGBTQ inclusion in The United Methodist Church and where we currently are.

A Way Forward from Journey Point on Vimeo.


Resources & Articles

Bishops Propose Plan for Way Forward - To find a way forward on the denomination’s homosexuality debate, bishops are recommending the church allow more freedom at the conference and local church levels.

Official Press Release from the Council of Bishops - United Methodist bishops, meeting in Chicago, engaged in a prayerful process to discern a way forward.  At the conclusion of the discernment process, the Council of Bishops strongly approved the following motion and rationale...

Faultlines - Holy Conversations about Human Sexuality and the Untied Methodist Church.

Let’s Be Open to Christ Changing Our Minds - Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough has urged his fellow bishops to be open to Christ changing their minds as they counter disagreements and to be prepared  to lead The United Methodist Church into uncharted territories.

Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma D. Lewis has issued a video response to the Council of Bishops recommendations to the 2019 General Conference: