Yesterday, the Council of Bishops released a press release regarding a proposed separation agreement, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation. This agreement was created through mediation by a diverse group of 16 persons representing various viewpoints across the Connection. The Council of Bishops shared the release on behalf of the Mediation Team members.
I always look for the good news inside the reported news. If the protocol for separation and new direction for United Methodists ends decades-old infighting at General Conferences over the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in our churches as we do the work of ministry, I count it as a light of hope at the end of a long tunnel and a good way to begin a new decade.
This is what I know for sure: We have a tendency to initially interpret with eyes of suspicion and scarcity rather than first read and reflect with prayers of hopeful resolve. God is always doing a new thing and the Church born of Pentecost finds its Christian expression with Jesus the Lamb of God as the center of its mission and unity. Over the centuries, the Church has continued to evolve, splinter, experience decline and growth.
For United Methodists, we know that reported proposed agreements have to be formally approved in our worldwide General Conference scheduled for May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
During the 2016 General Conference, the Council of Bishops was asked by the delegations to lead the church out of this ever-increasing divide that has proven to be painful for people in our families and pews and distracting from our many global missional challenges. While Bishops preside over the General Conference, they do not have a vote. Before being elected as a bishop in 2008, I served for many years as a pastor and Elder. Bishops are entrusted to promote the Unity of the Church and the Order of the Church so that the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world can be advanced. The Bishops—and many others—have never stopped the pursuit for a more excellent way for the diversity of United Methodism to be freed from internal theological conflict so that love and respect can triumph over legislative votes that leave a divided church more wounded and less focused.
So I invite you to join me in continuing to start this new decade off in prayer. I see God at work all across Indiana and the globe, and I am full of hope. The joy of the Lord is my strength, and I truly believe most of our limitations are self-imposed.
The news of resolution through negotiation as a pathway forward to General Conference is, for me, good news that leads to more good news for our work ahead as we follow Jesus’s admonition to Simon Peter in John 21:15-19…In essence, Jesus asked us “Do you love me?” If so, “then feed my sheep, and tend my lambs.” Let’s tend to our flock well in this time.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana United Methodist Church
For news outlets that desire a spokesperson in Indiana for this breaking United Methodist news, Bishop Trimble can be contacted via the Communications office. Please contact Chassity Neckers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-366-1814.