Commission on a Way Forward

The Commission on a Way Forward

NEW: On Sept. 15, 2018, the Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Va., and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, spoke for several hours about the 2019 Special Session of General Conference and the three plans being presented there. You can watch the video here. Pastors, especially, are invited and encouraged to share the information about the Special Session with their congregations, and to begin conversations (see below) about what is happening in their church. The PowerPoint slide presentation that Rev. Berlin used may be downloaded here.

NEW: Churches are encouraged to have conversations about The Way Forward. Discipleship Ministries has this resource, including outlines, question starters, and more.

NEW: The Commission on a Way Forward sought additional expertise from Wespath regarding the potential pension impacts of the Commission’s three proposals to the 2019 Special General Conference. Wespath provided information and analysis about how various scenarios under consideration might impact clergy pensions (U.S. plans), as well as related effects on local churches and annual conferences. Learn more.

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

The BWC recommended at its 2018 Annual Conference Session that a covenant be used by local churches as they explore the way forward and how churches address homosexuality and other critical conversations. View "Finding our 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.

Its members were from nine countries and represented 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, 2018. That recommendation was for the One Church Plan

In May 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 BWC General Conference Delegation going to the 2019 Special Session are: (click on the name to contact them by e-mail)



The Special Session of General Conference will also consider other petitions related to human sexuality. The deadline to submit petitions has passed.

News Articles


  • Have a Courageous Conversation in your church about The Way Forward.
  • Watch videosLouisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president-designate of the Council of Bishops, offered her thoughts on where we are as a church. Harvey spoke with UM News as part of a video series featuring different perspectives of church leaders on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.


"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.