The United Methodist Church is currently in the midst of prayerful discernment around denominational language and policy regarding human sexuality. As part of that process, the Way Forward Commission was created by the Council of Bishops in response to the 2016 General Conference. This group of laity and clergy from across the globe is charged with examining every paragraph of The United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality. The Commission aims to explore options that could help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church, especially exploring the denomination's stance on homosexuality.
The Commission presented their full report to the Council of Bishops in May 2018 and from three possible plans, the Council of Bishops recommended The One Church Plan to the special called General Conference in February 2019. You can find information on the three plans below as well as a link to the full report of the Council of Bishops.
We invite you to be in prayer for this process of discernment and for the people of The United Methodist Church. In particular you are invited to pray each day from 2:23-2:26 which represents the dates of the Special Session of General Conference. BUMC will also be holding several information sessions where you can find our more about this process including Sunday, Sept. 16th at 12:15 pm and Wednesday, Sept. 19th at 7:30 pm.
The One Church Plan (Recommended by the Council of Bishops):
- Recognizes the diverse theological and scriptural understandings of our global church;
- Provides generous unity for conferences, churches, and pastors;
- Does not require any annual conference, bishop, congregation, or pastor to act contrary to their convictions;
- Maintains the current leadership structure of the denomination as one body;
- Removes the restrictive language from our current Book of Discipline.
The Connectional Conference Plan (not recommended by the Council) would have proposed three values-based conferences in place of the current geographic conferences, with working titles of Progressive, Contextual, and Traditional Conferences based on theology and perspective on LGBTQ+ ministry.
The Traditional Church Plan (also not recommended by the Council) would have strengthened the language in the current Book of Discipline and streamlined the process for handling violations of the Book of Discipline.
Link to the full Commission Report and other resources on the Commission on a Way Forward: https://www.bwcumc.org/resources/commission-on-a-way-forward/
Link to the BWC 2018 Annual Conference Presentation by Rev. Tom Berlin: