The following was released by the Council of Bishops late in the afternoon last Friday (Feb. 23). As I share it with you here, I ask that you continue to pray for the Council of Bishops and the Commission on A Way Forward, especially this week as the Council of Bishops gathers in Dallas to receive and discuss the Commissions' report. - Bishop Mike Lowry
Bishops to receive, discuss updated report from Commission on a Way ForwardWith attention on the missional and theological foundations of The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops (COB) is preparing to receive an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward on possible models regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the global denomination. The 32-member Commission met last month to rework sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination and will present that updated report to the bishops at a special meeting set for next week in Dallas. The Council of Bishops normally meets twice yearly but an additional meeting was added this year to give more time for the bishops to digest and discuss the progress report from the Commission on a Way Forward. Bishops named the Commission on a Way Forward to assist them in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to inclusion and resulting questions about the unity of the church. The updated report that will be given to the bishops next week will help the bishops prepare to fulfill that mandate. The Commission members meet one more time in March to prepare the final report that will be acted upon by the bishops at their April/May meeting. At the November 2017 meeting, the bishops received an interim report, highlighting sketches of three possible models. The bishops did not take any vote on any of the sketches but offered feedback and asked the Commission to give an updated report that should highlight the missional and theological foundations of the models. In preparing for the updated report, the moderators of the Commission, Bishop Ken Carter, Bishop David Yemba and Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, asked their fellow bishops to weigh the models along with the mission, vision and scope of the Commission. “We appeal to you, and we call upon your gifts in the urgent work of revising, improving and clarifying how we can lead the church in this task,” the moderators said. The Council of Bishops is committed to prayerfully seeking God’s future for the UMC and continues to invite the entire church to be engaged in praying for a way forward, said COB President Bishop Bruce R. Ough. The Council of Bishops will meet at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas from Feb. 25-28. Apart from the opening worship on Feb. 25 and the morning devotions, the meeting will be in executive session.