Updates and Resources on a Way Forward
The Three Plans
THE ONE CHURCH PLAN
The One Church Plan gives churches the room they need to maximize the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible. Changes to the adaptable paragraphs in The Book of Discipline apply only to the Jurisdictional Conferences in the United States. Central conferences, through the work of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters, will have the authority to retain the present language regarding chargeable offenses of clergy and questions of ordination related to homosexuality found in The Book of Discipline (2016) or adopt wording in these paragraphs that best serves their missional contexts.
THE CONNECTIONAL CONFERENCE PLAN
The Connectional Conference Plan reflects a unified core that includes shared doctrine and services. This plan creates three values-based connectional conferences that have distinctive definitions of accountability, contextualization and justice. Current central conferences have the choice of becoming their own connectional conference (up to five additional connectional conferences) or joining one of the three values-based connectional conferences. A redefined Council of Bishops focuses on ecumenical relationships and shared learning. Episcopal oversight, accountability, elections, assignments and funding occur within the College of Bishops of each connectional conference.
THE TRADITIONALIST PLAN
The request to include a full Traditionalist Model was received by the Commission on a Way Forward just prior to its last meeting, which began on May 14, 2018. Members of the Commission on a Way Forward registered concern that the time available did not allow for the full conciliar process utilized for the other two plans offered by the Commission on a Way Forward. The One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan both received intensive and comprehensive participation from the Commission and the Council of Bishops over an extended period of time. While there was some support within both the Commission and the Council of Bishops for a Traditionalist Model, the support was modest enough in both groups to discontinue the Commission’s earlier work on this model. In order to serve the May, 2018 request from the Council of Bishops, the Commission on a Way Forward resubmits the sketch sent to the Council of Bishops in November, 2017 as our work on the Traditionalist Model along with the history of this work and its implications for various bodies in The United Methodist Church.
FULL WAY FORWARD REPORTS IN ALL FOUR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE:
LOCATIONS AND DATES
Sunday, August 26
Auburn First United Methodist Church
1203 E 7th Street, Auburn, IN 46706
Sunday, October 7
Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church
3050 East Davis Drive, Terre Haute, IN 47802
6:30 p.m. (CT)
Tuesday, October 30
Newburgh United Methodist Church
4178 IN-261, Newburgh, IN 47630
Sunday, November 11
Monticello United Methodist Church
200 S. Main Street, Monticello, IN 47960
Saturday, November 10
Asbury United Methodist Church
1751 27th Street, Columbus, IN 47201
2:00 - 4:00 p.m. (EST)
Sunday, November 18
Indianapolis Christ Church
8540 US 31 S, Indianapolis IN, 46227
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (EST)
Saturday, December 1
Union Chapel United Methodist Church
4622 N Broadway Ave, Muncie, IN 47303
North Central District:
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, January 20
Carmel United Methodist Church
621 S Rangeline Road, Carmel, IN 46032
Sunday, January 27
Scottsburg United Methodist Church
615 S Honeyrun Pkwy, Scottsburg, IN 47170
Resources provided by the Indiana United Methodist Conference
"I believe I am being led by the Holy Spirit"
Laity and Clergy coming to differing conclusions regarding homosexuality
The Rev. Dr. Adolf Hansen, Theologian-in-Residence at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis shares a booklet resource for laity and clergy.
In the addendum Dr. Hansen shares, "I've written these pages to show one way United Methodist laity and clergy might carry out their responsibilities if the proposed "one church model" is adopted (without a move to a congregational form of governance). If the UMC adopts a different model, the organizational layout delineated in this booklet might still be useful. My deepest hope is that all of us who are a part of the UMC will find a resolution that will enable us to expend our full energy on leading persons to become disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Hansen also wrote the book, Is it Time? Helping Laity and Clergy Discuss Homosexuality One Question at a Time, which was included in the 2018 Bishop's Lenten Study for critical conversation throughout the districts of the Indiana Conference.
Updates on the Commission on a Way Forward and 2019 Special Session of the General Conference
Arguments mount on Way Forward plans
Nearly 30 briefs, totaling more than 400 pages, confront the Judicial Council as it prepares to consider the constitutionality of three plans for dealing with The United Methodist Church’s schism-threatening division over homosexuality.
Both the One Church and Traditional plans as proposed would require multiple changes in church law, but not changes in the church constitution. Many of the briefs, though, argue that certain petitions in those plans would violate the constitution and thus would have to be approved as constitutional amendments.
Changing the constitution is a high hurdle, requiring a two-thirds vote of General Conference and two-thirds ratification votes in the annual conferences. Other changes to denominational policies require a majority vote at General Conference.
New group pushes Simple Plan as way forward
A new group of United Methodists has formed to champion a “Simple Plan” at the special General Conference in 2019. If approved, the legislation would open the door to full participation of LGBTQ individuals in the life of the church, said Methodists for the Simple Plan. The proposal eliminates all restrictions in the denomination’s Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality. So far, 115 United Methodists — including 13 General Conference delegates — have signed on to support the plan.
Related: LGBTQ advocates conflicted on way forward
Korean United Methodists choose prayer over plans
The Korean Association decided to form an Alternative Plan Task Force to handle (the three plans) this issue during the Central Committee meeting held in October 2017. The Alternative Plan Task Force, which was newly organized during a gathering of the association held in April 2018, as well as the Central Committee and the executive committee recently held a joint meeting.
During the opening worship service of this meeting, the Rev. Hannah Ka said, "We must change our life's value from doing to being. This means we respect each and every person in the body of Christ as a being of equal value before God."
"Jesus was interested in a Samaritan woman, a leper, a blind man, a bleeding patient, a child of a Gentile woman, a sinner, a tax collector and Judas Iscariot," said Ka.
"We have to realize that the thoughts of God are deeper and wider than our thoughts, and that our thoughts are only a part of God's infinite will. Even though our life experiences, situations and colors of faith are different, we are to hear the word of God rather than to pay attention to human beings," she concluded.
Commission on a Way Forward offers more video resources for 2019 General Conference
In its continued efforts to inform The United Methodist Church on its processes and work, the Commission on a Way Forward has released four videos this week that document the experiences, hopes, dreams, concerns, approach, and learnings of the 32-member Commission. Learn more about these video resources, here: bit.ly/COWFVideos.
Bishops respond to Judicial Council Decision 1360, in relation to the 2019 General Conference
Here is the statement from the Council of Bishops, issued by COB President Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Area, in response to Decision 1360:
We want to thank the Judicial Council for their service to the church through the affirmation of two key principles—the specific nature of the call for the special session, to receive and act on the report of the Council of Bishops based upon the work of the Commission on a Way Forward; and the General Conference’s authority to decide on what is in harmony with the call.
Our Call to Serve
Our motivation in making the request for the Declaratory Decision is in recognition of the historic nature of the special session of the General Conference in 2019, the need for focus on the stated purpose during these three days, and to create an orderly environment without distraction and chaos, so that the delegates can do their best work.
I am grateful for Bishop Bruce Ough, who spoke on behalf of the Council’s petition for a Declaratory Decision. This was an appropriate exercise of service to the church (Book of Discipline, 414, 415), as we have responded to the request for leadership from the 2016 General Conference. We will continue to serve our beloved denomination under the guidance of the decision, and in consultation with the Commission on the General Conference.
Bishop Ken Carter
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Bishops, The Upper Room launch Phase 3 of Praying our Way Forward
The Council of Bishops in partnership with The Upper Room is launching Phase 3 of Praying our Way Forward. Phase 1 involved 84 members of the Council of Bishops praying for The United Methodist Church’s way forward for 15 minutes daily, from August to December 2016. This was followed by Phase 2, which resulted in 18 continuous months of daily individual and corporate prayer by faithful members of annual conferences around the globe.
“Now we are ready to launch Phase 3, which begins June 3 and continues through the Special Session of General Conference in February 2019. In this phase, we are encouraging every United Methodist to fast weekly and to pray daily with the Council of Bishops,” said Bishop Al Gwinn, the Prayer Team Coordinator.
Commission ends its work; recommendation a way forward
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward for The United Methodist Church concluded its ninth and final meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, yesterday (May 16). The Commission met nine times over 17 months. The Commission reviewed a wide variety of petitions presented as legislation to previous General Conferences regarding human sexuality and examined how other faith communities and denominations are responding or have responded to the question of inclusion of LGBTQ persons. “The key part of the early work was to build trust and intentional community among a group of people who had good reasons not to trust each other,” said Bishop David Yemba, one of the moderators of the Commission.
United Methodists Bishops recommend a Way Forward
CHICAGO – United Methodist bishops, meeting in Chicago, engaged in a prayerful process to discern a way forward. At the conclusion of the discernment process, the Council of Bishops strongly approved the following motion and rationale:
Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 that includes:
All three plans (The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan, and the Connectional Conference Plan) for a way forward considered by the Commission and the Council.
The Council’s recommendation of the One Church Plan.
A historical narrative of the Council’s discernment process regarding all three plans.
Rationale: In order to invite the church to go deeper into the journey the Council and Commission has been on, the Council will make all the information considered by the Commission and the Council of Bishops available to the delegates of the General Conference and acknowledges there is support for each of the three plans within the Council. The values of our global church are reflected in all three plans. The majority of the Council recommends the One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.
Hitting the road for Way Forward
Of late, North Texas Conference Bishop Mike McKee’s life has become a road show, as he hustles to meet a schedule of 11 open meetings across the conference’s four districts.
His purpose: to give briefings on and take questions about the Commission on a Way Forward and Council of Bishops’ efforts to hold the denomination together amid longstanding division over homosexuality.
“We (bishops) were all encouraged to do something, in any way we saw fit,” McKee said.
On Thursday, April 12, he held the eighth of what he’s calling district conversations, spending two hours before some 200 Metro District clergy and laity gathered at First United Methodist Church of Richardson.
Experience has taught McKee to expect the unexpected.
Commission moderators emphasize mission as key to Way Forward
The moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward are urging United Methodists to engage in reflections on where they see mission at the heart of the denomination as well as seeing mission as significant for resolving a conflict.
Commision on a Way Forward prepares updated report to bishops
The Commission on a Way Forward is nearing the completion of its task of making recommendations of possible ways forward for The United Methodist Church regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in this global denomination.
The 32-member Commission concluded its three-day meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday after reworking sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination that will be part of the final report to the Council of Bishops in May.
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, one of the moderators of the Commission, noted that the members who have had six meetings since January last year are confident that the Commission will succeed in its work.
“The common work of God’s spirit moves in each one of our lives. The spiritual gifts that are gifted to each of us by God are given to be used for the common good of all people. It is this Spirit that both unifies us and inspires us to use the diversity of spiritual gifts to be visionaries and to consider the whole realm of what is possible; to dream dreams, big dreams, to the glory of God.”
Bishops uphold values of mission, unity, space, contextuality in interim report on Way Forward’s work
Bishops uphold values of mission, unity, space, contextuality in interim report on Way Forward’s work
Placing emphasis on the values of unity, space and contextuality - all for the sake of mission – the Council of Bishops (COB) is exploring sketches of three models as possible directions for a way forward for The United
Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion. With the mission of God through the risen Christ at the core, the bishops this week
received an interim report from the Commission on a Way Forward that offered three sketches of models that would help ease the impasse in the church, noting that the power of the Holy Spirit trumps and guides all the church’s activities. The Commission serves the COB, helping prepare the COB to fulfill its mandate to make a recommendation for a way forward to the General Conference.
READ PRESS RELEASE
A prayer offered for The Council of Bishops and the Commission on A Way Forward
As The Council of Bishops meet in Chicago April 30 through May 4 our Conference Prayer Coordinator, Darlene Neckers offers the following request and prayer.
One important matter of business during this meeting will be listening to the Commission On A Way Forward who will present their final recommendation as we prepare for the special called General Conference in February 2019. Please be in prayer throughout the coming week.
CALL TO PRAYER FOR COMMISSION ON A WAY FORWARD
Prayer brings us near to God. It is a vital part of our personal relationship with God. It's where we give God thanks and praise, seek the will of God, present our requests, release our concerns, receive the Lord’s gracious forgiveness, and channel His power in order to forgive others. Prayer is also an opportunity to draw close to God, affirm our faith, and strengthen our relationship with the God we serve. May we always be grateful for the privilege of spending time this way with God, the Creator of the universe.
Sometimes it is not easy to pray. One of the many superb quotes of Oswald Chambers is, "Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle." We do not know what goes on in the spiritual realm when we pray. We do know, however, that when we pray according to God's will we receive access, through Jesus Christ, into the very presence of God who has authority over all enemies; visible and invisible. Let us put our trust in our Victorious Warrior and go to God in prayer, spending time with Him, and seek His will.
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. Let us turn our ear to listen for God’s voice and then pray boldly, in Jesus' name.
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.
The worldwide United Methodist Church is in prayer for this effort. Our Indiana Conference has been assigned the week of October 15th to focus our prayers on The Commission on a Way Forward. Let us set aside our personal thoughts and agendas, and join together seeking God's hand in prayer.
Each church can decide on their own plan of individual and corporate prayer and fasting during this designated week. Please inform prayer coordinators and prayer warriors in your congregations. Also, please announce this request during your services the weekend of October 7 and 8, as well as October 14 and 15. May we cover this mission in prayer during the entire week, starting October 15.
Thank you for your faithfulness to pray.
Darlene Neckers, Conference Prayer Coordinator
Information and a downloadable PDF on The Commission on a Way Forward can be found at umc.org/wayforward.
Prayers for the Week of October 15 - 21 Bulletin Insert
We do not know what goes on in the spiritual realm when we pray. We do know, however, that when we pray according to God's will we receive access, through Jesus, into the very presence of God, who has authority over all enemies; visible and invisible. Let us put our trust in our Victorious Warrior and pray. Spend time with Him and seek His will. Listen for His ways
and thoughts and pray boldly, asking in the powerful name of Jesus.
The Commission on a Way Forward has the responsibility 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. Our responsibility is to pray for them. All of us are important in this process. Let us allow God to search our hearts and lead us in our prayers. May God be glorified!
Almighty God, help us to trust you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Lord, we worship you as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thank you that your ways are perfect. We thank you for the members of the Commission on a Way Forward. Please guide them in the great responsibility they carry for the future of our denomination. As they seek you in truth, give them your path of wisdom. In the powerful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Thank you, Lord, that you are near to all who call upon you in truth. We ask that the Commission on a Way Forward pour out their hearts and emotions before you, as we do the same. Please remove any fear and give us all a new depth of understanding and love. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Help us all, Lord, do our part in keeping peace with one another. We ask that your peace fill each member of the Commission on a Way Forward as they seek you. Renew a right spirit in us all. In Jesus' name. Amen.
God, we ask that all 32 members of the Commission on a Way Forward obey your leading as they draw up plans to present to the Bishops for their November meeting. May your will be done. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Dear God, we trust you with the future of our denomination. Only you know the way we should go. Help us all to be aware of your constant presence as we wait upon you for answers. We want you to be glorified. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.
Lord, we pray for the next meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward-- October 30 through November 1. We pray for each member to sincerely seek you. Please give them wisdom and clarity. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Lord, remind us to continue to pray for the Commission on a Way Forward. Our desire is to see people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thank you for hearing our prayers and answering according to your perfect will and in your timing. In Jesus' name. Amen.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES WILL BE ADDED AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE.