Conversations on a Way Forward Invite Dialogue on the Unity of the Church

By Rick Wolcott*

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.

On September 16, nearly 100 clergy and laity from across the East Ohio Conference participated in a pilot Conversation on a Way Forward that provided opportunities for intentional, meaningful dialogue to discern together how we might strengthen and maintain the unity of The United Methodist Church, and find a way forward through the present impasse related to human sexuality.

“We are here today because we honor and acknowledge that we all hold different views on how we interpret the scriptures as it relates to human sexuality,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone.  “We are here acknowledging that we have different ways of how we are engaged in relationships and in ministry with our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer brothers and sisters in Christ, the beloved community, the beloved children of God.  We are called to be the Church.  We are called to be those who embody the love and the grace of God.”

Following worship and time spent together framing the conversation, participants gathered in their assigned small groups for facilitated dialogue.  Each group reflected on the following four questions that were crafted by the Council of Bishops for discussion by United Methodists across the denomination:

  • In our diverse and global existence, what is the shared mission of the Church?
  • Is there a proactive way to live together in our differences that doesn’t presume that we will solve our differences?  If so, what would it be?
  • What might be a form of unity that would empower us living together?
  • What is our witness and what can be our witness to the world in relation to our differences?

All clergy and laity in the East Ohio Conference are invited, and encouraged, to participate in any one of the following  Conversations on a Way Forward:

Mon., Oct. 23, 2017, 6-9 pm
Mentor UMC

Tues., Nov. 14, 2017, 6-9 pm
Western Reserve UMC

Sat., Feb. 3, 2018, 10 am-1 pm
Thoburn UMC

Sun., Feb. 4, 2018, 2-5 pm
Willard First UMC

Mon., Feb. 5, 2018, 6-9 pm
Lakewood UMC

Sat., Mar. 3, 2018, 9 am-12 pm
Church of the Lakes UMC

It is important that you register in advance for the conversation you wish to attend, as each location has a seating capacity for small group sessions.  Register here

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Promoting the Understanding of a Black Theological Perspective

Black Theologian Day is October 14

By Will Jones*

Bishop James S. Thomas,
The late Bishop James S. Thomas, A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

The late Bishop James S. Thomas initiated the first Black Theologian Day, during his time as episcopal leader of the East Ohio Conference, to promote the understanding of a Black theological perspective to a primarily Caucasian denomination in the United States.

All East Ohio Conference clergy and laity are invited to dive deeper into their faith and broaden their understanding by participating in Black Theologian Day 2017, to be held at Aldersgate UMC (North Coast District) in Warrensville Heights on October 14.  This year’s theme is Overcoming Fear, based on Romans 8:31.

“One of the main hindrances to doing ministry is fear.  It paralyzes us.  We have to remember as clergy and lay that if God is for us, who can be against us,” said EOC Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Steve Court.

Ms. Erin Hawkins
Ms. Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race

Erin Hawkins the General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race is this year’s guest scholar.  She is dedicated to building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and reach more people, younger people, and a more diverse people by providing practical resources and support to leaders throughout the Church to help them engage and embrace the cultural diversity present in our congregations and communities.

The ministry model of the Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) helps our conference to have vital conversations with people different than us and to deepen our ability to be culturally competent.  Black Theologian Day is an opportunity for that to happen.

The Rev. Darlene Robinson of Willard First UMC (Firelands District) has participated in several past Black Theologian Days and encourages all clergy and laity in East Ohio to attend this year’s event.

“A lively, Spirit-filled and energized time of worship will be had in the midst of an informed theological presentation, informative teaching and an opportunity for great dialogue,” she said.  “One gets to see, hear, and dialogue with an African-American scholar that one may have not known about or may never get an opportunity to see in person.”

Cost is $15 and online registration is required to attend.  Register here.

 *Will Jones is director of Multicultural Vitality for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Here’s How You Can Help Hurricane Victims in Texas

Texas and Louisiana has been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. We are asking people of faith to pray for those in the path of the storm. UMCOR is actively preparing to provide assistance to those who need it most. Please remember that individual shipments of supplies are not helpful during the early stages of shelter and early relief. There will be significant long term needs caused by this major event.

If you wish to make a financial contribution to the relief efforts, you can donate by writing a check to your local UMC designating the fund below to which you wish to make your donation:

Fund 901670 UMCOR US Disaster Response

Fund EOC 1310 “UMCOR Hurricane Recovery 2017”

Give directly to the Texas Annual Conference

Give directly to the Louisiana Annual Conference

We also ask for support of efforts in building inventories of relief supplies. These are disbursed from storage locations in truck loads then replenished by your donations. At this time, we are in need of hygiene kits and cleaning buckets. With many potentially suffering damage to their homes from flood waters, our greatest need, is cleaning buckets. Kits can be sent directly to Sager Brown, Depot West or delivered to an affiliate warehouse nearest you. For more information. Thank you all for your support.