Commission on The Way Forward

Members of the Commission on a Way Forward ended their March meeting with a letting-go prayer event in which they gave up control of their final report to the Council of Bishops, who officially received the final report at an April/May meeting in Chicago.

By: Christa Meland

In February 2019, at a Special Session of the General Conference, United Methodist delegates from around the world will decide how to move forward as a denomination around the issue of human sexuality.

A diverse “Commission on a Way Forward” that was appointed by the Council of Bishops has spent the past two years working to address the denomination’s differences on this topic.

The Commission members are:

  • Jorge Acevedo, USA, Florida, elder, male
  • Brian Adkins, USA, California, elder, male
  • Jacques Umembudi Akasa, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, laity, male
  • Tom Berlin, USA, Virginia, elder, male
  • Matt Berryman, USA, Illinois, laity, male
  • Helen Cunanan, Philippines, elder, female
  • David Field, Europe, Switzerland, laity, male
  • Ciriaco Francisco, Philippines, bishop, male
  • Grant Hagiya, USA, California, bishop, male
  • Hortense Aka Dago-Akribi,,Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, laity, female
  • Scott Johnson, USA, New York, laity, mal
  • Jessica Lagrone, USA, Kentucky, elder, female
  • Thomas Lambrecht, USA, Texas, elder, male
  • MyungRae Kim Lee, USA, New York, laity, female
  • Julie Hager Love, USA, Kentucky, deacon, female
  • Mazvita Machinga, Africa, Zimbabwe, laity, female
  • Patricia Miller, USA, Indiana, laity, female
  • Mande Guy Muyombo, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, elder, male
  • Eben Nhiwatiwa, Africa, Zimbabwe, bishop, male
  • Dave Nuckols, USA, Minnesota, laity, male
  • Casey Langley Orr, USA, Texas, deacon, female
  • Gregory Palmer, USA, Ohio, bishop, male
  • Donna Pritchard, USA, Oregon, elder, female
  • Tom Salsgiver, USA, Pennsylvania, elder, male
  • Robert Schnase, USA, Texas, bishop, male
  • Jasmine Rose Smothers, USA, Georgia, elder, female
  • Leah Taylor, USA, Texas, laity, female
  • Debra Wallace-Padgett ,USA, Alabama, bishop, female
  • Rosemarie Wenner, Europe, Germany, bishop, female
  • Alice Williams,USA, Florida, laity, female
  • John Wesley Yohanna, Africa, Nigeria, bishop, male
  • Alfiado S. Zunguza, Africa, Mozambique, elder, male
  • The moderators of the Commission are:
  • Sandra Steiner Ball, USA, West Virginia, bishop, female
  • Kenneth Carter, USA, Florida, bishop, male
  • David Yemba, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, bishop, male

The commission forwarded two detailed plans to the Council of Bishops for their consideration: the One-Church Plan and the Connectional Conferences Plan. A third plan considered by the commission, the Traditionalist Plan, was later added by the bishops to the plans to be presented to the 2019 General Conference.

The Council of Bishops is recommending the One-Church Plan, but all three plans reported by The Way Forward Committee were reviewed and ruled constitutional by the Judicial Council of the UMC, and will be brought to the conference being held in St. Louis, MO, February 23 – 26 2019. The complete report is some 93 pages long. (Click here to access the complete report with detailed information on all the plans.).

Bishop Bruce R. Ough of the Minnesota Annual Conference offers this wisdom to United Methodist churches and leaders – both clergy and laity –  as they await the Special Session of the General Conference:

  • Do not make decisions before they are made.
  • Lead out of a convicted humility.
  • Be a non-anxious presence.
  • Be relational in your leadership.
  • Affirm all the voices and values.
  • Speak to the anxiety and fear.
  • Strengthen congregational resiliency by building
    • MC identity
    • biblical and interpretive fluency
    • missional commitment
    • the practice of respectful conversation
    • and strengthening your leadership team using resources such as The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, and God Unbound.

Bishop Sue Hauper-Johnson, North Georgia Annual Conference spoke about the upcoming General Conference at the 2018 North Georgia Annual Conference.  You are encouraged to listen to this as it outlines where members of the conference stand in general as well as her advice. View Video by Clicking Here.

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