On Saturday, April 28, Jolynn and I will fly to Chicago for the regular spring meeting of the Council of Bishops (COB) of The United Methodist Church. The agenda is packed with significant items coming before the worldwide gathering of bishops. Perhaps first in importance and interest involves the Council receiving the latest report from the Commission on the Way Forward. The Commission on a Way Forward held its penultimate meeting in Los Angeles last month to prepare the final report of recommendations to the bishops on proposed ways forward for the global denomination regarding the impasse over human sexuality. The bishops have been asked to read the report of the Commission prior to arrival. We will be engaged in deep conversations regarding the future of The United Methodist Church. Disagreement over issues of how to best and most faithfully uphold the Gospel and relate to each other (especially those professing to be a part of the wider LGBTQ+ community) carry the potential to cause schism in The United Methodist Church. The Bishops will make their collective recommendation to the delegates of the Special Session of General Conference scheduled for late February 2019. The final version of the report to be sent to the General Conference delegates will probably not be available until sometime in late June at the earliest. Why the delay in getting the report to the delegations? There needs to be a significant amount of time for translation of the document into at least five and possibly six languages. It is often hard for us to remember that The United Methodist Church is a global connection. For an English-language version of the document to be released in the United States prior to its worldwide release is decidedly unfair to delegates from other nations* whose primary language is not English. [*Approximately 37 percent of the General Conference delegates come from outside the United States.] Several other very important and significant issues are before the Council of Bishops during our spring meeting. They include reports regarding immigration, ecumenical relations, racism, disaster relief and other mission and ministry work around the global denomination. The COB also will be certifying results from voting by Annual Conferences on five constitutional amendments, as well as electing new officers for the Council of Bishops and passing the gavel to a new leadership team. Because the upcoming COB meeting carries with it a period of heightened interest and anxiety (especially from clergy), I have two requests of the local churches, laity and clergy of the Central Texas Conference. First and foremost, I ask that you be in prayer for each of the bishops and for the work of the Council during our time together in Chicago (and each day following). Secondly, I ask that we eschew gossip and adamantly resist playing the psychological game of “ain’t it awful.” The Central Texas Conference Communications team will post regular updates from our meeting on the conference website (www.ctcumc.org) as they become available. Another excellent source of information can be found on the Council of Bishops News & Statements webpage, as this is where Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga, Director of Communications for the COB, will post official press releases and other updates. Should you read “news” or commentaries from other sources – such as websites supporting a particular school of thought or social media sites like Facebook – I strongly urge you to fact check what you read against what is being reported on the conference site or by Dr. Mulenga to help separate rumors from fact. Of course, the truth is that God in Christ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is at work among us, in and through The United Methodist Church as a whole, and specifically through our local churches. Together we are in the God-anointed, Christ honoring, Holy Spirit empowering ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. To read more about the April 29 – May 4 Council of Bishops meeting, visit ctcumc.org/COB-spring2019.