UMC Commission Discerning Church's Position on LGBT Issues to Release Report in November

Commission on a Way Forward
Members of the United Methodist Church's Commission on a Way Forward meet in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 18-20, 2017. |

A United Methodist Church commission focused on determining a resolution to the debate over the denomination's position on LGBT issues will release a preliminary report in November.

The Commission on a Way Forward was formed last year at UMC's General Conference as a way in which to resolve the years-long intense debate over denomination's official opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.

At their most recent meeting, held in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 18-20, the Commission looked into possible ideas to keep the denomination from splitting.

The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga, spokesperson for the UMC Council of Bishops, told The Christian Post on Monday that a preliminary report from the Commission was expected sometime in November.

"It Is not clear at this point what would be in the report but it may contain possible models for finding a way forward regarding human sexuality in The United Methodist Church," said Mulenga.

"No preliminary plans have been drawn up yet. The Commission started working on drafting some models but nothing has been drawn up yet."

Over the past several years, the UMC has undergone divisive debate over whether the mainline Protestant denomination should change its official position declaring homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching" to something more compatible with the current pro-LGBT climate of the United States.

The Commission was first proposed by the Council of Bishops at the UMC General Conference in Portland, Oregon, last year and was approved by delegates.

The Commission's membership is composed of United Methodist leaders from both the United States and abroad, representing diverse perspectives on the debate.

In April, the Council of Bishops announced that a special session of General Conference will be held on Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis Missouri to act upon the Commission's recommendations.

"The purpose of this special session of the General Conference shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward," explained the Bishops in the April letter.

"The Council of Bishops encourages the entire church to continue in deep, unceasing prayer for Holy Spirit breakthroughs for the Commission on a Way Forward and the special session of General Conference."

Florida Bishop Ken Carter, one of the Commission's moderators, said in a statement released last week that he was optimistic about the work of the church body, especially in Berlin.

"Our commission members moved more deeply into their convictions that lead them to love God and envision the future of our denomination," explained Bishop Carter.

"While we are exploring models of a way forward, we are 'sketching' them, with a pencil in one hand and an eraser in the other."

The next meeting for the Commission is scheduled to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.

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