Commission on a Way Forward

The Commission on a Way Forward

The final report from The Commission on a Way Forward is now available in four languages. See the English translation

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 submitted a report of their deliberations to the Council of Bishops at a meeting April 29-May 4. That recommendation was for the so-called One Church Plan

A Jan. 22 UMNS article stated that the Commission looked at three possible models for how the denomination treats LGBTQ inclusion. They included:

  • "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.

In April 2018, the Council of Bishops announced that they were recommending to the church the so-called "One Church Plan." Under this plan, decisions about whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy or to officiate at same-gender unions would be made closer to the congregational level. The plan would remove the restrictive language against the practice of homosexuality in the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s policy book. The plan also adds assurances to pastors and conferences who in good conscience cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy that they don’t have to do so. Central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — could maintain current restrictions.

The plan “encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions,” said the bishops’ press release.

The bishops are expected to make this 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.

News Articles



"Gil Rendle: a parable for today" 
is a video featuring Commission on A Way Forward Consultant Gil Rendle.  Gil shares a story that illustrates the difference between positions and interests. When we are able to move from holding onto our positions to seeking to understand each other’s underlying interests we are better able to move forward together.

"Purpose, Principles and Importance of the work of the Commission on a Way Forward." 
This video was recorded during the final May 2018 Commission meeting of the Commission on A Way Forward and gives an in depth theological and technical overview of the work of the commission that helps to frame the work that is being asked of the delegates to the February 2019 General Conference.

Bishop Grant Hagiya 
a member of the Commission on A Way Forward, shares reflections about the book "Anatomy of Peace."  Bishop Hagiya shares why the principles of this book help us make a fundamental shift from battleground to a place where people can have open and honest dialogue with one another. 

Donna Pritchard (clergy, Pacific Northwest Conference), Tom Salsgiver (clergy, Susquehanna Conference) and Leah Taylor (laity, Texas Conference)
are all Commission on A Way Forward members.  They share reflections on their work, the value of connection and the relationships they formed during their time together on the Commission. 

Commission on A Way Forward Moderators Overview: 
Bishops Sandra Steiner Ball, David Yemba and Ken Carter share an overview of their role as moderators for the Commission and how service was one of their primary focus.

Jasmine Smothers, Julie Hager Love and Tom Berlin
are all Commission members who are also clergy serving in the SEJ. In this interview they reflect on their experience and their hopes for the future of the United Methodist Church.

Dave Nuckols (laity, Minnesota) and Helen Cunanan (clergy, Philippines)
have a conversation about the Commission on A Way Forward sharing their experiences from very different places in the world.

Bishops Gregory Palmer and Robert Schnase
 who are members of the Commission, talk about how the work of the Commission points to the larger mission of The United Methodist Church.