See new information added to the end of this story (April 22, 2018).
Unhappy with the results of General Conference 2019, about 600 centrist and progressive United Methodists from across the United States will meet May 20-22 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kansas. The question being asked: What should become of The United Methodist Church?
Ten nominated representatives from each of the 54 U.S. annual conferences will be invited, as well as active U.S. bishops and top executives of church agencies. Nominations are due by Monday, April 22. Those wishing to nominate themselves or someone else for an invitation to the UMC-Next Gathering, May 20-22, can do so at this link.
The meeting will evolve from two earlier ones that occurred recently in Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga.
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, COR pastor, is shepherding the dialogues, along with host bishops and others. Among many progressives and traditionalists, he sees ample room in the center for compromise among those who are “compatibilists,” which he finds in greater numbers than non-compromising “incompatibilists” at the margins.
“Our hope is for a diverse group of leaders who will help shape Methodism’s future, and who will be a part of the organizing team in their annual conferences, seeking to build support for the next United Methodism,” said Hamilton.
The convening team is hoping for a diverse gathering of lay and clergy (diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and inclusive of LGBTQ persons) who were in support of the One Church or Simple Plans and who are people able to organize, influence and motivate those in their own annual conference
Nominees will be notified by April 26 if they are chosen from their annual conferences. Participants must cover their own travel expenses, lodging, and food. A nominal registration fee will cover meals and snacks. The meeting will begin Monday afternoon, May 20 and conclude by lunch on Wednesday, May 22.
Meanwhile, supporting a more progressive direction for the denomination, some are endorsing a statement circulated in the Eastern PA Conference over the past few weeks.
“The vote at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference Special Session held in St. Louis caused great harm and spiritual violence to the LGBTQIA+ community,” reads the Statement from Clergy and Laity of Eastern Penn Conference regarding the outcome of GC2019.
“We… grieve this hurt and, with other United Methodists across the connection lament this harm done. We reject the outcome of that Special Session vote and pledge to continue to affirm the lives, ministries, and families of our LGBTQIA+ siblings.”
More than 130 lay and clergy advocates have signed the statement so far, according to the Rev. Lydia Munoz, a General Conference delegate who helped launch the effort. They pledge to “continue to resist against all forms of evil, oppression and systemic discrimination in whatever forms they present themselves as declared in our baptismal covenant and to continue to educate, raise awareness of intersectional oppression as they manifest themselves among the communities we serve and to continue to love and serve all people in the name of Jesus the Christ.
Much of the statement’s wording was provided by the New York Annual Conference’s progressive General Conference delegation. It goes on to state:
We, the Clergy and Laity of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference agree with John Wesley that “though we do not all think alike may we all strive to love alike” striving “to do no harm, and do all the good we can.”
We, clergy and laity of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference believe…
Love is love
All persons are of sacred worth
Black Lives Matter
Climate Change is real
Water is life and connected to all living things.
No human being is illegal
All genders identities are whole, holy, and in the image of God
Women’s rights are human rights
All abilities are expressions of the Divine
Colonialism is white supremacy in action
Racism in all its forms is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus
To devalue one person is to devalue all people
We affirm the truth as written by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“We are working towards God’s justice,” it concludes. “We will only get there if we work towards it together.”
April 22, 2019
“We repent the harms done to the LGBTQI+ community by silence and inaction,” it begins. “We regret that LGBTQI+ voices have not been prioritized in conversations about the future of the UMC. We are sorry that the full self-hood of LGBTQI+ Christians has been compromised by people seeking their exclusion. And we recognize that the LGBTQI+ community has gifts and graces for ordained ministry and a right to marriage equality.”
The Rev. Mark I. Salvacion, Clergy Co-Chair of RUM-EPA, said he would discuss the statement and caucus’ plans for a witness at Annual Conference with Bishop Peggy Johnson. Reconciling United Methodists is an unofficial caucus that advocates for full inclusion of LGBTQI+ members in the life and ministry of the denomination.
The new statement calls upon the annual conference to “resist the implementation of any plan for the future of the United Methodist Church (Way Forward) that does not treat LGBTQI+ Christians as fully equal to heteronormative Christians.” It further calls for resistance to any plan that: