How the Commission on a Way Forward provides hope for the future of The UMC
The Commission on a Way Forward was formed by the Council of Bishops after a decision was made at General Conference 2016 to develop a committee to address the issue of division around the topic of sexuality in The United Methodist Church.
On June 2, at the 2017 Annual Conference session, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb showed a video featuring a number of the diverse members on the Commission who expressed how hopeful they are that the way forward will be a positive one for the Church. They have met each other a number of times and have delighted in how wonderful it is that though many disagree, they have been able to have effective discussion.
Bishop Webb asked Scott Johnson, who was chosen to be on the Commission, to reflect on his experience.
“Many of you already know that for years the Church has been mired in an unhealthy and unproductive debate about full inclusion of LGBTQI sisters and brothers in the life of the denomination,” he said. “The expectation is that the Commission will offer recommendations that will move us beyond our current state into a new, just, and healthy way of being church in the world. The task before us is clear. It is difficult, and it is urgent. Trust that the members of the Commission understand this, and we are working to honor our charge.”
Scott was honest in how hesitant he was in accepting the position, but how he has been impressed with how well the Commission works together.
“Frankly, I was worried when I accepted the invitation to serve,” he said “I wondered if we would find a room full of competing agendas and thick with politics. That has not been the case. I have found sisters and brothers who are deeply committed to Christ and seek to do His will no matter how passionately we may disagree. Their integrity as they have approached this incredibly challenging task has given me hope.”
Scott urged for everyone to be actively praying for a resolution to our conflict and to not turn away from the difficult conversation.
“We must continue to be engaged,” he said.
Scott said the Church will not move forward if we let go of hope. He ended his talk by reminding the Conference that “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. He has not shown that He is done with us yet. With Christ as our guide, we can find our way forward.”
Scott received a standing ovation, and Bishop Webb asked members of the Conference to come to Scott and lay hands on him as Bishop prayed for Scott and the number of times “he has said ‘Yes’ for doing work in the name of God.”