The Committee on the Way Forward, appointed by the Council of Bishops of The UMC has made its first report to the COB. It outlines 3 possible models:
Leave the Discipline as it is with an emphasis on accountability.
Change the Discipline to allow full inclusion of LGBTQ individuals while protecting the rights of those who object to same sex marriage and ordinations.
Both of these models are likely to result in denominational divisions in which dissenting churches will be given a graceful way to exit the church, they say.
The third model attempts to define unifying features of shared doctrine, worship, and values to keep The UMC together while creating “different branches” that prevent one pole from having to embrace what it finds objectionable by the other pole. None of this actually new. It’s the same mulberry bush The UMC has been dancing around for 40 years. But it does at least acknowledge the presence of dissenters on both sides and acknowledges that, no matter what, some on one side or the other are likely to be leaving. Now the stall begins. The COB is not obligated to any solution offered. And even when they settle on something, each Annual Conference will have to approve the COB’s Way Forward. And even then, the General Conference in 2020 will have the final say unless, of course, they continue kicking the can down the road as has been done now for decades. At least now it seems that those in support of the first model, scriptural faithfulness and accountability, appear to be organizing themselves in a way that will allow them to exit en mass and immediately provide the stability and connection that has been a positive aspect of our Wesleyan faith tradition.