We believe that the hope of the world is what Jesus Christ does through the local church. At our best, The United Methodist Church, with its message of grace and truth, is used powerfully by God to transform lives and communities.
Acknowledging that our denomination is broken, divided, and dysfunctional is heartbreaking, but it is reality and it needs to be admitted. Bishop Bruce Ough’s morning statement at General Conference should be applauded for its directness and its honesty, but it was also a cause for sadness and disappointment. His confession that the Council of Bishops is divided and unable to provide the leadership we need to be a united and vibrant church is another indication of how serious our dysfunction is.
It’s particularly disheartening, in light of the fact that we have debated issues regarding human sexuality for over 40 years, to hear that the Council has not done the work necessary to provide the leadership the church needs and deserves at this time. We had hoped and prayed that the Council would exert the moral and risk-taking leadership this desperate moment requires. We are afraid we are about to witness a terribly disruptive and divisive ending to General Conference and then several years of chaos and harm. This development is more than the result of different views held within the church. It is the fruit of leadership that has failed us.
We are grateful the Council has finally begun to talk about how deep our divisions run and perhaps have the kind of conversations that should have been going on for the last ten years. We are praying that these conversations will be fruitful and lead us to a way forward.
Good News and our allies have proposed legislation at this General Conference that would restore integrity and accountability to our covenant. Most of that legislation has been approved by legislative committees and we expect it to be passed by the entire conference and become church law. Though we are of divided opinion, our way forward will be together, following what we have agreed to be the positions and practices of the church.
We are grateful we are a global church that is growing where the Gospel is being faithfully proclaimed and lived out. We remain committed to a vibrant and faithful practice of Wesleyan orthodoxy that honors the Scriptures and proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord. We will continue to work for a faithful future for the people called Methodist and are bold enough to believe God will so act that our best days are yet to come.