At the 2016 General Conference the body asked our Council of Bishops to lead in a new way that would help us move beyond our impasse over the issues of human sexuality. As part of the next steps the Council of Bishops has named the Commission on a Way Forward. You can learn more about the commission at: www.umc.org/wayforward.
As this world-wide commission begins their work, many conferences are inviting persons to holy conversations around the topic of human sexuality. In Kentucky we are going to begin with a small group of clergy, to engage through the lenses of Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. The goal is to bring together 10-12 clergy of various theological and biblical perspectives to create an environment that is safe and respectful as well as edifying, growth-oriented, and a model for future conversations. These conversations are not an attempt to change the Book of Discipline’s stance on the issue of homosexuality. Only action by the General Conference can do that. Neither are these conversations meant to change anybody’s convictions. Only God can do that.
Participants will meet at the Kentucky Conference office in Crestwood on the following dates from approximately 10 am to 2 pm ET.
Friday, March 17
Tuesday, May 9
Thursday, July 13
Thursday, September 14
November (date to be set by group)
Leaders of the group include Rev. Adam Shourds (Broadway UMC, Bowling Green); Rev. Craig Tuck (Crescent Hill UMC, Louisville); and Rev. Julie Hager Love (Director of Connectional Ministry). As your episcopal leader I also will be participating.
In Holy Conversations and "circles of trust" confidentiality is key to providing a safe place for deep and meaningful sharing. If at any time I or others feel it would be important for the sake of true honest and vulnerable dialogue that I step away I will willingly dismiss myself for that part of the conversation. I am grateful, and prayerful for the possibilities that God's spirit will bring about through these Holy Conversations.
If you are interested in participating in this inaugural group (we anticipate that more groups will form at later dates), you are asked to complete this online application. If you have questions you can contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org Applications are due by Thursday, February 23.
Additionally, in the coming months Kentucky will be asked to join in a scheduled time of prayer. I pray that our time of Holy Conversations will help clarify and focus our time of prayer as well as the prayers that are already being lifted daily for the church universal and The United Methodist Church in particular.
Thank you for considering participating in this important conversation.
Bishop Leonard Fairley