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United Methodists Discern “A Way Forward”

United Methodists Discern “A Way Forward”

A special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference is meeting in St. Louis this week which will determine the future of the denomination. From the Washington Post:

A schism, the splitting of a church over irreconcilable differences, has sometimes seemed imminent. Yet in an extraordinary meeting of church leaders in St. Louis that begins Saturday, the 12 million-member denomination will try to reach a plan to hold their church together while also deciding the church’s stance on LGBT issues.

“It is very difficult to be the church in the same way in Monrovia, Liberia, and in San Francisco and in Austin, Texas, and in Peoria, Ill., and in Montgomery, Ala.,” said Bishop Kenneth Carter of Florida, one of the three moderators of the 32-member Commission on a Way Forward that has been preparing plans since 2016 for the denomination to consider. “From a political perspective, we are a church that has among its members Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush and James B. Comey and Jeff Sessions. … How much unity can we achieve? And how much separation do people need from each other?”

There are three possibilities for delegates to consider:

One option… would allow each church to essentially decide for itself whether to hire gay clergy and perform same-sex weddings.

… A second choice, called the “traditional option,” would continue the United Methodist Church’s official stance against homosexuality and would beef up enforcement against clergy who go against the church’s policies on the issue.

…A third approach would split the church into three connected but distinct denominations: one that affirms LGBT inclusion, one that strictly condemns homosexuality and one that gives each pastor a choice for how to approach the question. “That would simply give people the separation that many people want,” Carter said. “There would be some shared resources, but they would have their own bishops and their own budgets. It would really be a way of having a looser connection.”

Information on the committee which developed these options may be found on the UMC website. The committee’s full report is also available here.

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