A Way Forward

(Handout from Annual Conference)

Judicial Council releases October docket; district meeting dates set

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last Thursday the Council of Bishops asked the Judicial Council to rule on the constitutionality of the three legislative plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. (Read more here)

The Judicial Council has posted the docket for their fall meeting, set for Oct. 23-26 in Zurich, Switzerland, and the request by the Council of Bishops is among the items to be considered. 

Docket No. 1018-12
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality of three sets of legislative petitions known as the One Church Plan, Connectional Conference Plan, and Traditional Plan. Read More

As part of the Judicial Council’s process, The Book of Discipline requires that requests for a declaratory decision, including relevant documents, be posted on the Judicial Council website. Included in the 231-page request from the bishops is the full report from the Commission on a Way Forward as well as all legislation.  

It is still anticipated that the translation of the report into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili) will be made available July 30 by the Commission on the General Conference.

As we study and reflect on the report, I will share more with you in the coming weeks. I also invite you to to join me to discuss the Way Forward report in your district.

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

Please remember to join the worldwide prayer movement for General Conference. Let us pray daily from 2:23 to 2:26 as we prepare for General Conference 2019.

My challenge before us remains: Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course. Know that I am praying for each of you as together we navigate the days ahead.

Alive Together in the World,

Lawson Bryan


Judicial Council releases October docket; Way Forward plan included in documentation posted on website

(UMNS) A request by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for a ruling on the constitutionality of three legislative plans heading to the 2019 special General Conference is among the docket items being considered this fall by the denomination’s top court. Judicial Council will meet Oct. 23-26 in Zurich, Switzerland. As part of the Judicial Council’s process, The Book of Discipline requires that requests for a declaratory decision, including relevant documents such as legislative petitions, be posted on the Judicial Council website.

Docket No. 1018-12
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality of three sets of legislative petitions known as the One Church Plan, Connectional Conference Plan, and Traditional Plan.
Read More


Click here to see the full docket.


United Methodist Bishops release recommendation to 2019 General Conference

A Word from Bishop Bryan

I have spent this past week at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting in Chicago where we heard the final report from the Commission on a Way Forward and have prayerfully finalized our recommendation to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.

A summary of the recommendation coming out of this meeting is now ready to be released (read press release). I remind us to receive this summary as helpful information as we study the report, reflect on it, and evaluate it using the values identified in our district dialogues.

All three models received significant support within the Council of Bishops. The Council of Bishops will forward all three models to the general conference delegates, along with supporting information that outlines how the Council has assessed each model. The feeling is that, in the interest of transparency, this material should be available to all so that it can aid laity and clergy in considering the models. Also to be released is one model being recommended as the preference of the majority of active bishops. Full details of the plans and accompanying legislative proposals will be released as soon as final editing of the entire report is completed and translated into the official languages of the General Conference (no later than July 8).

This recommendation reflects the wide diversity of perspectives within the Council of Bishops on our best way forward as a denomination. It also provides the General Church with three specific and detailed options for moving out of our current impasse. Ultimately the decision on this matter lies with the 800+ clergy and lay delegates from around the world who will convene at the General Conference in St. Louis February 23-26, 2019.

I will share more with you in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, my challenge before us remains: Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.

Read press release from the Council of Bishops


Ask The UMC: Can you explain Way Forward plans, COB recommendation?

Could you explain the plans of the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops recommendation?  

The Council of Bishops considered three plans developed by the Commission on a Way Forward. The Council of Bishops has indicated its majority recommendation for the One Church Plan, which could allow for different approaches in different places.  Their report to the special called 2019 General Conference will also include information about the other two plans.

One Church Plan (recommended): The one-church model would allow different United Methodists in different places to make different decisions regarding ministry with or by LGBTQ persons rather than maintaining a single standard that operates everywhere throughout the worldwide church. This plan would remove restrictive language from the Book of Discipline and give conferences, churches and pastors the flexibility to “uniquely reach their missional context in relation to human sexuality without changing the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church."

United Methodists in central conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe would retain the authority to adapt the Book of Discipline and could continue to include their traditional language and values. 

This plan would also protect the rights of United Methodists whose theological convictions will not allow them to perform same-sex weddings or ordain LGBTQ people.  

Traditionalist Plan: This plan would affirm the current language about homosexuality in the Book of Discipline and seek to strengthen enforcement for violations of church law.

Connectional-Conference Plan: This plan would create three connectional conferences based on theology or perspective, each having clearly defined values (accountability, contextualization and justice). The three connectional conferences would function throughout the worldwide church and the five existing U.S. jurisdictions would be abolished. 

Adaptations to the Book of Discipline would be allowed by each connectional conference. Annual conferences would determine their affiliation with a connectional conference. Local churches who choose a branch other than the one chosen by their annual conference could vote to join another conference. This plan would require multiple amendments to the denomination’s constitution.

The full report and legislation will be available following translation into the official languages of the General Conference. The estimated release date is July 8, 2018.

The 2019 General Conference will receive the report and legislation and make decisions about whether or how to change our current connectional relationships.


Timeline

Click here to view a timeline for the Way Forward conversation.