Commission on a Way Forward
The Commission on a Way Forward
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward was created by the Council of Bishops at the 2016 General Conference in Portland Oregon to completely examine and possibly recommend revisions of every paragraph in the Book of Discipline related to human sexuality. The bishops' focus was the ongoing unity of The United Methodist Church.
The Commission's first meeting was Jan. 23-26. Its members are from nine countries and represent a vast array of viewpoints from throughout the denomination. It is expected to meet nine times and submit a report of their deliberations to the Council of Bishops at a meeting April 29-May 4.
A Jan. 22 UMNS article states that the Commission is currently fleshing out three possible models for how the denomination treats LGBTQ inclusion. They include:
"Affirm the current Book of Discipline language and place a high value on accountability. The church policy book says the practice of homosexuality "is incompatible with Christian teaching" and lists officiating at a same-gender union or being a "self-avowed practicing" gay clergy member as chargeable offenses under church law.
"Remove the Book of Discipline's restrictive language and place a high value on contextualization. This sketch also specifically protects the rights of those whose conscience will not allow them to perform same-gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ people.
"Create multiple branches that have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization, and justice. This model would maintain shared doctrine and services and one Council of Bishops.
The bishops also have asked the commission to draft a theological statement that both informs the three models and creates a compelling narrative for them.
The bishops are expected to make a proposal to the church, which will be voted on by delegates from every Annual and Central Conference, at a Special Session of General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, Feb. 23-26, 2019.
The Special Session of General Conference will also consider other petitions related to human sexuality. The deadline to submit petitions is July 8.