Commission on a Way Forward

South Georgia Conference Prayers Week Emphasis: January 14-21

What is 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 and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. 

Learn more about the Commission, catch the latest news and review moderator updates. Contact them at wayforward@umcom.orgClick here to view a list of the Commission Members

South Georgia Prays

The denomination-wide 'Praying Our Way Forward' initiative launched on New Year’s Day 2017 with 75 weeks of focused prayer for The United Methodist Church. Each annual conference will take one week to have intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.The South Georgia Conference's week of prayer is January 14-21, 2018.

Thanks to the deacons of our annual conference, led by Rev. Meg Procopio, resources are available to guide our week of prayer. Click here to download.


Commission on Way Forward interim report gives Council of Bishops three models for path forward (11/9/17)

Click here to read more about the interim report.

The Commission shared sketches of three models, with the awareness that the Commission and the Council of Bishops are not restricted to these sketches and are open to learning, listening and improvement. It is likely that additional models or sketches may emerge as this process continues. Here is the summary about the sketches of the models presented to the bishops:

  • One sketch of a model affirms the current Book of Discipline language and places a high value on accountability.
  • Another sketch of a model removes restrictive language and places a high value on contextualization. This sketch also specifically protects the rights of those whose conscience will not allow them to perform same gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ persons.
  • A third sketch of a model is grounded in a unified core that includes shared doctrine and services and one COB, while also creating different branches that have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization and justice. Read more

A Word From Bishop Bryan - 12/4/2017

“Prepare the way of the Lord” is the great rallying cry of the Advent season. The prophet Isaiah gives a vivid description of that preparation: hills and valleys made level, crooked places made straight, and rough places made smooth so that the glory of the Lord may be revealed and all people see it together!

Preparing the way is also a good description of the work of laity and clergy in the local churches and communities of South Georgia - we seek to focus attention and resources on doing those things that prepare the way for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

As you work in your local churches, in your communities, and out in the world to prepare the way, I am working with fellow United Methodist bishops and members of the Commission on a Way Forward to prepare the way ahead for our Church. 

We are preparing for the recommendations for a Way Forward that will come from the Council of Bishops in 2018 and will be acted upon at the special session of General Conference in February 2019. 

The Commission on a Way Forward was formed by the Council of Bishops and charged with bringing recommendations that the council can use to help decide what to recommend to the General Conference. The 32-member commission includes both laity and clergy. They will make their final recommendations to the Council of Bishops in late spring 2018. 

Recently, the Commission on a Way Forward presented three “sketches” to the Council of Bishops in order to get feedback. Now the Council of Bishops is encouraging each annual conference to design ways to help our members evaluate each sketch in light of the convictions and values of the annual conference.

I am happy to report the South Georgia Conference has already begun equipping our laity and clergy leaders to give strong leadership in this process. Recently the Leadership Forum met to consider how we want to lead. The senior ministers of the 25 churches with highest average worship attendance have also asked the same question of themselves. This week, several groups of lay and clergy leaders will meet Dr. Jorge Acevedo, lead pastor of a multi-site church in the Florida Conference and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward. Dr. Acevedo will address the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and will describe the three “sketches.” Participants will then have an opportunity for small group dialogue about the three “sketches” in light of the convictions and values that keep us Alive Together in Christ in South Georgia. This will result in at least 100 laity and clergy who are equipped to lead similar dialogues throughout our conference.

I will be working with the district superintendents and the district lay leaders to define a process of engagement that will fit each district. The goal is to give as many persons as possible the opportunity to be informed about the three “sketches” and to evaluate them based on the convictions and values of our conference. This will give me valuable input to take to the Council on Bishops meeting in February 2018. Specific plans for each district will be announced as soon as they are finalized.

In January, we will hold a meeting of our elected delegates to general conference and  jurisdictional conference. They too will be comparing and contrasting the three “sketches.”  

It is important to note that these “sketches” are not yet full-blown models. That is why this is the right time for our conference to be studying the “sketches” and giving input to the Commission on a Way Forward. Having total engagement throughout our conference will go a long way toward addressing the anxiety that naturally arises when considering matters of such magnitude.  

Please let me repeat what I have been saying for a year now: we are the South Georgia Conference. No one is going to invade our conference and force upon us a particular way forward. We have a voice in this decision. We have a voice in the entire process. This next 12 months can be a time when we demonstrate spiritual maturity, a non-anxious presence, firm trust in Christ, love for one another, and the vitality that comes when we truly are Alive Together in Christ.  

For now, please read Tod Bolsinger’s book, Canoeing The Mountains, which is sub-titled, “Christian leadership in uncharted territory.” The book draws on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and what they did when they went as far as the maps could take them and then had to operate “off the map.” There are many useful insights in this book. I strongly encourage you to read it and discuss it with others. After all, whatever position we may hold on any issue the big question is: How will we lead so that we are faithful to the Gospel, open to the Holy Spirit, and Alive Together in Christ?  

Mark’s Gospel says that “preparing the way” is actually “the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1-8). That is our goal as we prepare the way for our Way Forward in The UMC. Thank you for your prayers and your personal involvement in preparing the way.

Alive Together in Christ,
Lawson Bryan

A Word from Bishop Bryan

Share your thoughts with Bishop Bryan here.

To the South Georgia Conference: 

As we turn our attention to the special session of General Conference to be held February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri I ask that you join me in prayer for this called meeting. The purpose of this special session is to act upon recommendations given to the Council of Bishops by the Commission on a Way Forward.

The Council of Bishops is committed to the unity of the church and the flourishing of its mission. I urge us all to stay focused on the Commission’s work as our best opportunity to determine God’s leading for the church. We believe the God who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).

What can I do as a South Georgia United Methodist?
The laity and clergy of the South Georgia Conference can be involved in this process in these important ways:

  1. Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to guide the Commission on a Way Forward. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with new possibilities, new hope, new life. God has honored such prayers in the past because room is created for the Spirit to instruct and guide. I believe God can and will do it again!

  2. Share your own thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with the Commission on a Way Forward. I will compile all responses and convey them to the Commission. Your voice is important and needs to be heard. Share your responses here.

  3. Continue to focus on our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world as we remain Alive Together in Christ.

And now please join me in this prayer for the Commission on a Way Forward and for General Conference 2019:

God of resurrection and new life, we pray to you as Easter people:

When we were dead you made us Alive Together in Christ.

Now we journey toward Pentecost, remembering your promise to pour out your Spirit upon all people. Come, Holy Spirit!

We pray especially for the Commission on a Way Forward. May each member of the Commission be filled with the spirit of wisdom and discernment in all their deliberations. Use their experience and devotion for your glory. And as we prepare for General Conference 2019, give us grace now to hear the Easter message directly from Jesus: “Do not be afraid.” Give us such clarity of purpose that nothing can deter us from the mission to which you have called us.

How we thank you, Lord, for the legacy of faithfulness you have given us through the United Methodist Church. Renew within each of us the passionate spirit of John Wesley and the Methodist movement. Enable us to be a non-anxious presence so that the peace of Christ may guide our words and our actions.  

Come, Holy Spirit, and fill us with new possibilities, new hope, new life.

We pray in the name of the One who can do far more than we can ask or imagine, Jesus Christ our Risen Lord. Amen.