We live in the great fifty days, after the church has witnessed the presence of the risen Christ and before the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of being together in community, discerning the future and depending on God.
The Commission on a Way Forward recently gathered for its third meeting. We studied the scriptures, shared meals, reflected honestly about our convictions and listened intently to each other’s hopes. We also began to think strategically and structurally about the future of our church, as we have been asked by the denomination to do.
In anticipation of the upcoming Judicial Council decision related to the election of Karen Oliveto as a Bishop of the church, we want to remind you of the context of our ongoing work. The Council of Bishops is committed to the unity of the church and the flourishing of its mission. One of the instruments of this unity is the Commission on a Way Forward, which is accountable to the Council of Bishops and through the Council to the General Conference.
We believe the Holy Spirit is operating through the Commission’s and Council’s leadership and conferencing. The conciliar work of the Commission happens concurrently with other legal, legislative, and supervisory processes. The members of the Judicial Council are elected by the General Conference. Their decisions are the product of their own sense of guidance.
The Commission on a Way Forward will continue its work after the Judicial Council decision, and the outcome of the decision is not the focus of our mandate. We urge the entire church to stay focused on the Commission’s work as our best opportunity to determine God’s leading for the church.
In the coming months we will move more deeply into the implications of being a global church that seeks to balance an approach to different and contextual understandings of LGBTQ identity with a desire for as much unity and connection as possible. We will be exploring this in the context of our mission and structure, and we will be developing models of listening and teaching in collaboration with the Council of Bishops and across annual conferences.
We encourage you to follow the work of the Commission on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are grateful for your prayers and indeed we depend upon them. And mostly we claim the promise of the scriptures, that God will pour out his spirit on all flesh! (Acts 2)
The Moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward
(Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball, and Ken Carter)