here is some information to help you prepare for Sunday’s meeting @ 3:00 @ First UMC Maryville
Commission on a Way Forward: 5 things you need to know
At General Conference 2016 in Portland, there were an overwhelming number of proposals dealing with issues surrounding same-sex marriage, the ordination of LGBTQ clergy, and related topics. During a discussion about how to proceed, a clergy delegate addressed the bishops. “We are asking for your leadership.” Another added, “We are in a stuck place… I’m pleading with you. Please help us.”
The bishops returned later in the General Conference with a plan. They would create a group to research and advise them of ways to help us get unstuck, to move us forward. The group they later brought together is the Commission on a Way Forward. More about the formation of the commission here and here.
The bishops carefully formed the Commission on a Way Forward, inviting 32 people who identified on all sides of the issues to be part of this special group. Eight bishops, 13 other clergy members, and 11 lay members constitute the commission. More about the members here.
The work of the Commission on a Way Forward is “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.” More on their “About Us” page.
The commission regularly reported to the bishops during their work (see timeline to the right). Their final report will be presented to a special session of General Conference, February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.
As the Commission on a Way Forward was beginning their work, the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) invited scholars to a gathering called “Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.” Twenty-eight academics from three countries gathered for three days in March 2017, at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia, to present papers and discuss the issues. Eight members of the Commission on a Way Forward attended the event. More about this gathering here.
Following the gathering, GBHEM produced Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality, a study guide based on the scholars’ conversation. The study guide is available free online here. Bound copies can be purchased at Cokesbury.com. The papers presented by the academics are also available for purchase at Cokesbury.com.
On July 31, 2018, the final report of the Commission on a Way Forward was released in the four official languages of The United Methodist Church. The report may be downloaded in English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili.
5. Who decides?
The report of the Commission on a Way Forward will be received and acted upon by a special session of General Conference to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. This worldwide gathering of United Methodists will only act on items around our deep divide over homosexuality. More here.
Originally, the Commission on a Way Forward understood their role as advisory to the Council of Bishops, who would then report to the special General Conference session. A ruling of the Judicial Council on May 25, 2018, clarified that the Commission on a Way Forward is to report directly to the General Conference. More here.
At the request of the Council of Bishops, the Judicial Council will review proposed legislation for the One Church, Connectional Conference, and Traditional plans to determine their constitutionality. Oral hearings will be held October 23-26, 2018, in Zurich, Switzerland.
Most of the delegates for the 2019 General Conference will be those who attended the 2016 General Conference, though The Book of Discipline allows annual conferences to elect new delegates if they so choose. As with every General Conference, the number of clergy and lay (non-clergy) delegates will be equal. Bishops preside but do not vote. More about General Conferences here.
Our next regular General Conference will be held May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
To keep up with the progress, be sure to visit our umc.org/wayforward.
Please also be sure to talk to your United Methodist pastor.
*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact him by email or at 615-312-3733.
This story first posted on March 6, 2018.
Edited August 9, 2018, with updated status and to reflect changes.
This prayer movement is a response to the Council of Bishops initiative called Praying Our Way Forward. We are called to a posture of prayer, praying for God’s leadership to guide us effectively in fulfilling the mission of the church. We invite you – clergy and laity, conferences and congregations – across the denomination to pray for God’s guidance.
In prayer, we can be one in Christ.
Since General Conference 2016, our church has experienced conflict as we navigate rough waters. How can we show God’s great love and mercy to one another as we make decisions? As we move closer to the special-called session of General Conference, we invite all UMC members, across the denomination to pray and ask for God’s guidance.
Bishops Debra Wallace-Padgett of North Alabama Conference and Bishop Al Gwinn serve as co-chairs of the Praying Our Way Forward movement. Bishop Wallace-Padgett says, “Our prayer focus is two-fold: We are praying that God will help us to fulfill the mission of the church, and we are praying to be one in Christ. “
If there is ever a place where we can be one, it’s in the space where we meet God.
To receive regular prayer posts, join the prayer community and then also sign-up with your email address. Email the prayer posts