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Council of Bishops Releases Finding a Way Forward Handbook

Resources for Witness, Contextual Leadership and Unity provides resources, other materials from the Commission on a Way Forward

Last month, the Council of Bishops (COB) released a statement regarding an interim report shared by the Commission on a Way Forward (CoWF) during the council’s November meetings. The interim report offered three preliminary sketches of models that could provide a way forward for The United Methodist Church and help ease the impasse in the church regarding human sexuality and LGBTQ inclusion. After receiving the sketches of the three possible models, the bishops engaged in prayerful discerning and offered substantial feedback to the Commission, but did not take a vote on any of the sketches presented in the interim report.
 
In its release, the COB committed to providing a booklet that shares resources the Commission on a Way Forward used as part of its preparations for the interim report to the COB and will continue to use going forward. The booklet is now available to read/download in a PDF format.
 
The booklet, titled Finding a Way Forward: Resources for Witness, Contextual Leadership and Unity, contains
  • content on the three proposed sketches of the models the COB is using to have conversations in their respective episcopal areas;
  • Information on the Praying Our Way Forward initiative;
  • Timelines, History and Updates from the Commission on a Way Forward;
  • several other resources to assist in fruitful conversation on this subject.
In his blog about the work the Council of Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward did around the the three sketches put forth in the report, Bishop Lowry reminded that there is still “a long way to go” before the CoWF will be ready to present its final models. “I want to stress that what the Commission presented to the bishops was nowhere near their final product. That’s why I feel the term ‘sketches’ is so apropos.”
 
“I would like to underscore that there was common agreement that the mission of the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is paramount!” Bishop Lowry continued. “I join my fellow bishops in calling on all United Methodists to engage in honest, meaningful and respectful conversations regarding this issue and/or any of the political, religious and justice issues of our day.”
 
The Commission will process the feedback received from the bishops and will continue to welcome further input from members of the church through conversations and discussions with their respective bishops on the strengths and limitations of each model. The COB and the Commission have a series of meetings designed to continue the preparations for the Special Session of the General Conference in scheduled for early 2018, including Commission meetings in January and March and an additional COB meeting in February before a final report is discussed at the COB’s May 2018 meeting.