Commission on a Way Forward members stress ‘mission’ ahead of sexuality report

January 30, 2018
The moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward are urging United Methodists to focus on “mission” at the heart of the denomination as well as focusing on the word’s significance in resolving conflict in the ongoing church debate over human sexuality. 

The Council of Bishops said Tuesday, Jan. 30, that at the conclusion of the recent meeting of the commission held in Dallas, the 32-member group was asked to share three words that expressed their prayer for the church in the present moment. The 32 persons reflect the global nature of the church and a profound diversity of gender, age, theological perspective. They are laity, deacons, elders and bishops. The three words each shared then helped to create a word cloud. The more often a word is named, the larger it becomes in the word cloud (picture). The result can be viewed online. “Mission” was the word that was expressed most frequently, along with “Hope” and “Unity.”

In the Mission, Vision and Scope given to the Commission by the Council of Bishops, we are seeking to “design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible.” This vision is deeply rooted in the movement of the gospel from a small village in Bethlehem to the ends of the earth. The revelation of the Christ to the Magi (the gentiles) in Matthew 2 signals the church’s calling to share the good news with all people. At our best, this has been the vocation of a missionary church and is the root of a global church, where we are sent “from everywhere to everywhere” in the name of Jesus.

The Council of Bishops news release includes a series of questions for church members to ponder in the season after the Epiphany:

•    What does it mean that the commission sees “mission” at the heart of the way forward for our denomination?  
•    Could it be that we discover our unity as we are in mission together?  
•    What if mission became the primary framework for our work in resolving conflict?
•    How are we called to be in mission together more fully with our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community?  
•    And what three words would express your prayer for the church in the present moment?

The Moderator Team is made up of Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball, and Ken Carter. 

Rev. Julie Love, director of Connectional Ministries for the Kentucky Annual Conference, is one of the committee members. She and Bishop Leonard Fairley are planning Holy Conversations, a series of meetings across the conference over the next few months to update clergy and laity on the options the commission is considering regarding LGBTQ matters. 

The 90-minute meetings will be held in each of the KAC’s nine districts to update the public on the commission’s work. Here is the complete schedule and location:

Lexington: Monday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m., Wesley UMC, 1825 Russell Cave Road, Lexington.

Heartland: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m., Christ Church, 4614 Brownsboro Road, Louisville.

South East: Monday, March 5, 6:30 p.m., Grace on the Hill UMC, 1632 Cumberland Falls Hwy, Corbin.

Northern Kentucky: Thursday, March 15, 6:30 p.m., Immanuel Boone County Campus, 1440 Boone Aire Road, Florence.

Kentucky East: Monday, April 16, 6:30 p.m., Louisa UMC, 816 Pine Hill Road, Louisa.

Bluegrass: Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 p.m., Danville Centenary, 1441 Perryville Road.

Pennyrile: Sunday, April 22, 3 p.m., Ogden Memorial UMC, 305 W. Main St., Princeton.

Owensboro: Thursday, April 26, 6:30 p.m., Settle Memorial, 201 E. Fourth St., Owensboro.

South Central: Tuesday, May 22, 6:30 p.m., Glasgow First UMC, 500 S. Green St., Glasgow.