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
Tues., Nov. 14, 2017, 6-9 pm
Western Reserve UMC
Sat., Feb. 3, 2018, 10 am-1 pm
Sun., Feb. 4, 2018, 2-5 pm
Willard First UMC
Mon., Feb. 5, 2018, 6-9 pm
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.