Proverbs 14:15 MSG
I am grateful to my friend, The Rev. Marie Smith, who authored this article for the newsletter of the Wilmington United Methodist Church:
Perhaps you have heard someone talking in the hall way at church, or you have seen the news articles that are circulating around about our United Methodist Church and how we are responding to Human Sexuality. When I say Human Sexuality, I am specifically talking about ordination of people who are gay or lesbian; the ability to marry people who are the same gender within the United Methodist Church by an United Methodist Pastor, and if you are gay/ lesbian and desire to be married to your partner. The current Book of Discipline prohibits all of these things from happening. If you remember the Book of Discipline is our guiding principals, our historical document, and our set of rules by which we are held together.
In 2016 at General Conference the delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead us to a place where we could resolve this conflict. This request came after many disputes from all sides regarding how we interpret scripture, how we see the mission and ministry of the church, and how organize. It was decided that in 2019 we would reconvene General Conference and vote on Human Sexuality. The Council of Bishops will propose legislation for the delegates from around the world to vote. From that request, the Council of Bishops formed a Way Forward Commission. This commission is comprised of people from across the globe with various ideologies. There are people on the commission who are openly gay and who are openly against homosexuality; and people in between. The committee has met several times independently after the Council of Bishops has given them outlined goals. The Way Forward Commission has worked diligently with the Council of Bishop to hear the needs of the General Conference (That is all of us) and put forth something that is helpful. The commission reports to the Council of Bishops and its sole purpose is to help clarify what legislation needs to be put up in 2019. Because of their work they have put several drafts of “sketches” forth for the Council of Bishops. The most recent set has been limited to two:
ONE CHURCH MODEL
MULTI-BRANCH: ONE CHURCH MODEL
So you might be asking why is she sharing all this information? First, I want you to be informed about our denomination. I also want you to know what questions we will need to answer in just a short period of time. With that in mind, we in West Ohio (our annual conference), has 16 clergy delegates and 16 laity delegates who represent us at General Conference. Regardless of what the final sketch looks like, I would like us as Wilmington United Methodist Church to know what we believe and how we stand on this issue. This may require we have conversations around the table, it may mean we need to have bible studies about human sexuality, it may mean we need to hear another side of the conversation to understand perspective. If you are on a team or committee your leaders are asking you what you think of all of this and if you have questions. In just a few weeks we will have some dialogue about it. I hope you will join us as we talk about this important issue. Finally, I invite you to pray, pray for our council of Bishops, for our brothers and sisters on the Way Forward Commission and for all those who are suffering for their faith.
Dean Feldmeyer is the author of 5 novels, 4 non-fiction books, three plays, and over 100 essays, articles, poems, and short stories, some of which can be found on this web site.