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A note from Bishop Bryan: How to prepare for District Way Forward Meetings

August 07, 2018
Now that the full report of the Commission on a Way Forward has been released to the public, I am looking forward to discussing it with laity and clergy of each district. Here is the schedule for the six district meetings: 
  • August 16 – Northwest District | 6:30 pm – 8 pm at St. Luke UMC, Columbus
  • August 20 – Northeast District | 6:30 pm – 8 pm at Pittman Park UMC, Statesboro
  • August 27 – South Central District | 6:30 pm – 8 pm at Valdosta FUMC
  • September 6 – Coastal District | 6:30 pm – 8 pm at Hinesville FUMC
  • September 9 – North Central District | 6 pm – 7:30 pm at Riverside UMC, Macon
  • September 18 – Southwest District | 6:30 pm – 8 pm at Avalon UMC, Albany
In preparation for the meeting in your district, please read the report describing the three plans being offered for consideration as a Way Forward for The United Methodist Church. The Way Forward report has been released in all four official languages of General Conference: English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili. You can read the report by clicking on one of the language versions listed below.

English version
French version
Portuguese version
Swahili version

In addition, I invite all South Georgia clergy and laity to join me in the worldwide prayer movement for General Conference and I ask for daily prayers from 2:23 to 2:26 as delegates prepare for General Conference 2019.

Format for Way Forward District Meetings
The meetings will begin with a time of spiritual reflection and centering. A video will then highlight the specifics of each of the three proposed plans, taking them in the order listed in the report of the Commission on a Way Forward. This will be followed by a question and answer time, moderated by the host district superintendent, during which I will lead those present in a discussion of the implications of each plan. I will then offer ways the South Georgia Conference might helpfully respond to each of the three plans. The meetings will conclude with a time of prayer following the Praying Our Way Forward guide which is currently being used by United Methodists all over the world. 

The three proposed plans will be presented to the laity and clergy delegates of the called General Conference at their session in February of 2019 in St. Louis, MO.  General Conference could approve one of these plans, approve an amended plan, create a new plan, or affirm the current language of the 2016 Book of Discipline without making any changes to our current language.
I hope to see you at the Way Forward meeting in your district. My challenge before us remains: Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course. 

Alive Together in the World,
R.  Lawson Bryan
Important Terms to Know for the District Meetings

The Book of Discipline
A book outlining the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work, and procedures of The United Methodist Church. Each General Conference amends The Book of Discipline, and the actions of the General Conference are reflected in the quadrennial revision. We are currently under The 2016 Book of Discipline.

The Annual Conference
The regional, organizational unit of The United Methodist Church, as well as the yearly meeting of that unit, both presided over by a bishop. The business session is composed of equal numbers of clergy and laity, with at least one layperson from each pastoral charge. We are a part of the South Georgia Annual Conference.

The General Conference
The highest legislative body in The United Methodist Church. The voting membership consists of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates elected by the annual conferences. General Conference convenes every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction. It is the only body that can speak for the denomination.

The 2019 Called General Conference
The 2016 General Conference made plans for a called General Conference to be held in 2019. Its only purpose is to address our denomination’s ongoing struggles around the topic of human sexuality. The called General Conference is scheduled for February 23-26 in St. Louis, MO.

The Delegation
The delegation consists of the voting delegates to General Conference. Every four years, each annual conference elects an equal number of lay and clergy delegates to attend General Conference. At annual conference 2015, the South Georgia Conference elected four lay persons and four clergypersons (plus alternates) to attend the 2016 General Conference. These delegates were affirmed at the 2017 session of annual conference as the voting delegates to the called General Conference. A list of our delegates can be found at www.sgaumc.org/delegation2019.

The Commission on A Way Forward
The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination of all topics concerning human sexuality in the church. Its 32 members were named by the Council of Bishops, including eight bishops, 11 laypersons, and 13 clergypersons. The Commission has prepared and will present the three proposed plans to the 2019 called General Conference.

The Constitution
This is the fundamental constituting and legal document of The United Methodist Church. It establishes the basic outline for the organization of the denomination as well as establishing the office and role of the bishop. The Constitution can only be amended by 2/3 approval of The General Conference AND 2/3 approval of the aggregate vote of all annual conferences.

The Judicial Council
Nine persons, both lay and clergy, elected by General Conference who rule on questions of constitutionality in church law and practice.

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