Way Forward for the UMC
Council of Bishops Proposal to 2019 Special Called General Conference
Additional Reading Materials:
“Are We Really Better Together?” by Rob Renfroe and Walter Fenton
Are we better together? Are we really together?
Rob Renfroe is Pastor of Discipleship at The Woodlands UMC in Houston, Texas, leader of the popular Men’s Bible study Quest, attended by over 500 men, and author of The Trouble with the Truth, A Way Through the Wilderness, and The Joy Stealers. He also is president of Good News–a national organization committed to the doctrinal integrity and spiritual renewal of The United Methodist Church.
Walter Fenton is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church out of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. He serves an extension appointment as the vie-president for strategic engagement for the Wesleyan Covenant Association.
“Our Strangely Warmed Hearts” by Karen P. Oliveto
Because God is love, all are welcome no matter whom you love.
As John Wesley discovered his true spiritual identity, he experience a strangely warmed heart. Through poignant stories and well-reasoned principles, Karen Oliveto discloses how spiritual renewal and a personal call to ministry now emerge in the strangely warmed hearts of lesbian and gay Christians.
In The United Methodist Church and other Christian denominations, it is difficult or impossible for lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual clergy or laity to become visible, outward channels for God’s saving grace. Karen Oliveto traces the church’s history with this struggle with homosexuality. The controversy is deeply rooted in how God’s people are searching the scriptures, which are interpreted as a means of grace for some and as a rulebook for others.
This book includes first-person narratives from LGBTQ persons faithfully spring in a denomination that denies their calls and–in some cases–their presence. These stories show how the coming-out process is deeply spiritual as they speak calmly from the heart, through pain, and sometimes with a disquieting understanding of our shared Christian faith together.
Karen P. Oliveto is bishop of the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and a small portion of Idaho) for the United Methodist Church. Previously, for eight years, she served as a senior pastor of twelve-thousand-member Glide Memorial United Church in San Francisco. Karen is the first woman to serve as senior pastor at Glide, the fifth-largest United Methodist congregation in the US; she is the first woman to serve as senior pastor in one of the denomination’s one hundred largest US congregations; and she is the first openly lesbian bishop in The United Methodist Church. Her wife, Robin, a nurse anesthetist, is a deacon in The United Methodist Church.
“Holy Contradictions” edited by Brian K. Mulford
How might United Methodists bear witness to graceful and mutually respectful ways of living in the Wesleyan tradition amid enduring disagreements about same-gender relationships and related church practices? The seventeen essays in this book describe different views on this question at a particular moment in the life of The United Methodist Church. We encounter advocates with a passion for evangelism and for justice; examples of a shared appreciated for biblical authority that lead to quite different conclusions about biblical interpretation; an emphasis on unconditional grace as well as on the process of sanctification; attention to personal holiness and to social action; and respect for the existing contents of The Book of Discipline, in addition to cries for necessary and overdue changes.
The writers–M. Garlinda Burton, Bryon D. Collier, Jim and Jennifer Cowart, Magrey deVega, David N. Field, Rob Fuquay Diane Kenaston, Eduard Khegay, Scott T. Kisker, Thomas A. Lambrecht, Tracy S. Malone, Donna Pritchard, Kimberly D. Reisman, Laceye Warner, Audrey Warren, Jay Williams, J. Philip Wogaman–help us envision ways in which United Methodists might provide a powerful example and healing witness to a divided world.
“Bid Our Jarring Conflicts Cease” by David N. Field
A Wesleyan Theology and Praxis of Church Unity
David N. Field examines and interprets three of John Wesley’s key sermons and Wesley’s interpretation of holiness in terms of Methodist identity and diversity especially as it relates to human sexuality. Field’s main point is that schism and heresy are not doctrinal divisions but failures to love.
Theological discussions about diversity in Methodist Churches usually reference a few standard quotes from John Wesley, particularly his sermon “Catholic Spirit.” Field suggests that these references are only a part of the greater whole of Wesley’s theology and his understanding of the mission of the Methodist movement.
Field is a research associate at the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa, and academic coordinator for the Methodist e-Academy. The e-Academy is a theological education project for Methodist Churches in Europe, providing online supplementary education in Methodist Studies for ordination candidates and continuing education for pastors and lay leaders. Learn more…
What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause? And what if, as a result, we systematically perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?
From the authors of Leadership and Self-Deception comes a popular book that instills hope and inspires reconciliation. Through a moving story of parents who are struggling with their own children and with problems that have come to consume their lives, we learn from once-bitter enemies the way to transform personal, professional, and global conflicts, even when war is upon us.
Suitable for a 4-week study, this resource addresses how the church be a witness and provide for a diversified human community.
Based on a paper by Dr. Charles M. Wood, the resource presents United Methodists an opportunity to think about what has become a cultural and ecclesial flashpoint—human sexuality—and comes out of the conviction that the church is thirsty for theological conversation.
“Commission on A Way Forward” News:
- Bishop urges prayer, fasting, dialogue in a quest for unity
In seeking “A Way Forward” for the United Methodist Church, Bishop Peggy Johnson joins her episcopal peers in appealing to members to “enter into a time of serious prayer and... Read more
- Praying our Way Forward: Phase 3
The Council of Bishops and The Upper Room will launch Phase 3 of the Praying our Way Forward campaign on Sunday, June 3, inviting United Methodists to fast and pray through the Special Session of General Conference... Read more
- Conference members dialogue in search of UMC’s ‘Way Forward’
Bishops call for talking, praying, listening, learning By John W. Coleman The United Methodist Council of Bishops and its special study commission completed their lengthy deliberations in May, recommending “A... Read more
- Annual Conference to hear voices of change, welcome, diversity
The 2018 Eastern PA Annual Conference, June 14-16, will fill its stage with diverse sights and sounds, voices and visions, styles of worship and witnessing that together demonstrate the conference’s... Read more
- Bishops to decide ‘Way Forward’ proposal, change leaders
In its historic spring meeting, April 29 to May 4, in Chicago, the UMC’s Council of Bishops is expected to certify five constitutional amendments ratified by annual conferences, elect new... Read more
- UMC Bishops call for respectful conversations in time of uncertainty
United Methodist Church bishops are calling on members of the denomination to engage in respectful conversations amidst growing conflict over political, religious and justice issues in many places in our... Read more
- Bishops called to navigate ‘off the map’
United Methodist bishops find themselves “off the map” as they try to navigate a way forward through the church’s impasse over the practice of homosexuality and whether it is acceptable... Read more
- Bishop’s Report on the UMC Commission on a Way Forward
To the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference As you know, a 32-member Commission on a Way Forward was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge from... Read more
- Study commission to follow Bishop’s forum on religious freedom, LGBTQ rights, church unity
Bishop Peggy Johnson convened on May 20 a forum in response to the *Religious Freedom Resolution (#2016-18) “committed” to her by the 2016 Annual Conference in lieu of legislative action.... Read more
- Churches unite in prayer for UMC’s future
“Fill your servants with your Holy Spirit. May they seek you for wisdom, knowledge, love, compassion and clarity as they follow your leading.” About 40 congregants repeated that hopeful appeal... Read more
- Join us in Praying Our Way Forward, Jan. 8-14
Our conference will help lead the way for an urgent, yearlong prayer vigil for the mission and future of our denomination when we gather in prayer among our various churches... Read more
- Eastern PA to help launch UMC prayer vigil in 2017
The Eastern PA Conference will help lead off a more than yearlong United Methodist prayer vigil in 2017 by being the second conference to gather daily, even hourly in many... Read more