The Trinity Tower Church Council has had on its agenda for the past year a business item for discussion called ‘Notes on A Way Forward.’ The term A Way Forward refers to the Commission that was formed by the 2016 General Conference at the recommendation of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church (UMC). The Commission was established to do a complete examination and possible revision of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
For those unfamiliar, since 1968, issues of sexuality have been threatening to split the denomination. (The denomination currently prohibits marriage for same-sex couples, yet many pastors and churches disregard this rule of the church because they do not believe such a policy is God’s desire.) So the UMC is reaching peak fatigue in the debate on LGBTQ people and same-sex relationships. There is a strong feeling by many that we cannot continue to send mixed messages about such a matter in our churches. Some churches feel the policy in the Discipline adversely affects their chance to minister to all God’s people and some churches feel that not upholding that portion of the Discipline negatively impacts their fulfilling God’s call to minister to God’s people. Therefore, the Commission on A Way Forward was to present options at a Special Session of General Conference in February 2019 for how the United Methodist Church might move forward with a solution.
With this simple background, I should inform you that Trinity Tower Church Council has maintained a stance that a discussion about the matter may need to occur in our church, but had decided to wait until closer to the time of the February Special Session. The Church Council felt that until we could have proper information about the options, such a discussion time would not be helpful. Indeed, most noted in the meetings that such discussions often have the potential to create more dissension than unity. As we are now one month from the February 23-26 Special General Conference Session, our church will be having an information and discussion session planned.
On January 31, 2019, at 7:00pm, our church will hold an open discussion time on the Commission report, A Way Forward. I have arranged for a friend of mine, Rev. Seth McPherson to come help present the situation. Seth is one of the Alternate Delegates to Special General Conference session. Part of the presentation will be looking at the three plans being presented, and what these might mean.
Simply put, there are basically three options being offered as potential ways the denomination can go: The One Church Plan which is somewhat recommended by the Council of Bishops; the Connectional Conference Plan; and the Traditionalist Plan. If you are looking for more information about the matter, I suggest getting online to a search engine with the simple words: A Way Forward UMC. In that way, you will find many articles and much information about the matter.
As our Bishop and District Superintendent continue to implore, please be in prayer about this matter over the month of February.