Happy February my dear friends in Christ!
This month, United Methodist delegates from the US and around the world (800+) will gather in St. Louis, Missouri from February 23 until 26 to discuss and vote on “A Way Forward” for the United Methodist denomination. The central focus of the gathering are issues related to human sexuality. This special general conference (usually held every 4 years) was called by the Council of Bishops.
I will try in this article to give a summary of what has been transpiring over the past couple of years – but I must add that nothing will replace you checking out this subject for yourself and gaining a broader understanding of what exactly this general conference will be looking at and voting on.
In the end – one of three things can happen;
1) The Special General Conference will not settle on a plan or course of action
2) They will pick one of three plans suggested by the Commission on a Way Forward
3) They will revise one of the plans suggested by the Commission on a Way Forward OR come up with a completely different course
of action. (The Three Plans include; The One Church Plan*, Traditionalist Plan, Connectional – Conference Plan. *Of these 3 plans,
put together by the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops has recommended the One Church Plan.)
If action is taken at this General Conference, it would most likely lead to changes in the Book of Discipline which is “a fundamental book outlining the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of the United Methodist Church” (UMC.org). It was originally published in 1784 in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the original author was John Wesley.
How did we get here? For at least the last ten years, questions have been posed at the annual meetings of our United Methodist Conferences and at our General Conferences regarding human sexuality. These questions include, but are not limited to; 1) Should we permit our clergy to perform same-sex marriages? And should we allow same sex marriages in our churches 2) Should our denomination ordain people that identify themselves as LGBTQ 3) How does scripture inform us regarding these questions and about human sexuality? (For your info – the acronym LGBTQ stands for – lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, questioning)
There are many resources available for your review on the above questions, plans, discussions and there is no way I can adequately
describe or discuss this matter in this limited forum. Here are some sites where you can find more information that I hope will assist you in understanding and making informed, prayerful decisions. Here are some of the resource websites; www.flumc.org (search –
a way forward); www.wesleyancovenant.org ; www.onechurchplan.org ; www.umc.org (look up way forward). Additionally, there are quite a few “YouTube” videos regarding this subject (please be careful of the content found in some of these videos).
In closing, one thing we can do as this process moves forward (no pun intended) is to pray that the Holy Spirit will lead and inform the delegates as they ponder these questions. I have my opinions and views and continue to ask God to inform me and lead me in my decision making process. In the end, I believe that we cannot please everyone, but our actions should be focused on the mission God has called us all to. I will also continue to invite everyone to experience and live-out a relationship with Jesus Christ. We come to Him as broken individuals and the transforming power of God can help us lead lives that are pleasing to God.
God bless you and keep you,