For the second time in as many General Conferences, the body has decided not to decide on reaffirming our church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. Instead, the General Conference has authorized the Council of Bishops to create a commission to address the divisions within the church and to propose a way forward.
This is a proposal with some potential to resolve our differences in a definitive way, but also one fraught with peril.
Traditionalists have long been under-represented on the church’s boards and agencies, as have our African brothers and sisters. If we who represent the majority of the church are a minority on the commission, it will have little credibility and United Methodists will be skeptical of its recommendation.
If the commission is nothing more than a ploy to further a progressive agenda disguised as plan for unity, it will lead to deeper division and possibly schism.
We pray and believe that our bishops will be wise enough to include well-known and respected leaders of the traditionalist and orthodox renewal movement.
Particularly troubling in the Bishops’ proposal was the statement that during this interim period, the bishops will seek to avoid further “complaints” and “trials” for those who break the Book of Discipline. If the bishops refuse to enforce our covenant during this period, it will lead to growing acts of disobedience and further disenchantment toward a church that appears dysfunctional. And we fear many faithful United Methodists will feel that they must leave the denomination.
The conference has asked that the bishops lead. We ask that they lead with integrity.