A Way Forward
The manner in which we relate to homosexual persons is something with which the United Methodist Church has wrestled since 1972. The Commission on a Way Forward was formed in 2016 to consider and propose plans for the denomination to effectively deal with our diverse opinions and discern a way in which we might move forward together to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The commission completed its work in mid 2018, and there will be a special General Conference in February 2019 to discuss and decide how we will move forward. This page is a source of information about A Way Forward.
Information Sharing Meeting at Asbury UMC
This meeting was held on October 28, 2018. The purpose of this meeting was to provide information relative to what is happening within the United Methodist Church around this topic. Information presented included background, history, summaries of both affirming and traditional positions relative to full inclusion of homosexuals, summaries of the plans being considered, and things we can do. Resources from that meeting are below.
- Asbury Information Sharing Meeting Presentation, October 28, 2018 (21 page document)
- Asbury Information Sharing Meeting Handout, October 28, 2018 (4 page document)
- Asbury Information Sharing Meeting Plan Summary Handout, October 28, 2018 (3 page document)
- Asbury Information Sharing Meeting Video (90 minutes)
- Livestream the 2019 Special General Conference (Feb. 23-26)
- The Commission on A Way Forward Final Report (93 page document)
- The Commission on A Way Forward released videos on their work
- Indiana Annual Conference Extended Cabinet Release, October 10, 2018 (2 page document)
- Indiana Annual Conference web page with resources on A Way Forward
- Indiana Annual Conference web page on A Way Forward Plans
- United Methodist News Service – Current News concerning the United Methodist Church
- United Methodist News Service – form to subscribe to daily or weekly email digests
- “Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)” by Preston Sprinkle (Editor), Stanley N. Gundry (Series Editor), William Loader (Contributor), Megan K. DeFranza (Contributor), Wesley Hill (Contributor), and Stephen R. Holmes (Contributor).
The two views presented in this book are described as ‘affirming’ and ‘traditional’ with respect to same-sex marriage and full inclusion in the church. Four contributors, each an expert in his or her field, wrote an essay expressing the view he or she holds. The other contributors wrote critiques, which included areas where there is agreement and disagreement. Each contributor wrote a response to the critiques. This is an informative book that provide valuable insight into the arguments on both sides of this topic.
- “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics” by Robert A. J. Gagnon.
This is a 500 page, scholarly study of the biblical texts related to homosexuality. The author’s primary concern is solid biblical scholarship, rather than shaping public opinion or policy. It is more of a reference book than something most people would read from front to back. Before reading anything else in this book, I recommend reading Section III of the Conclusion, entitled “A Final Word.” This begins on page 491.
- “Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views” by Robert A. J. Gagnon and Dan O. Via.
The two authors each wrote an essay presenting their views. One holds an affirming view, while the other holds a traditional view. Each then wrote a critique of the other’s essay, noting the places of agreement and disagreement.
- “Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics” by Adam Hamilton.
Chapter 19 of this book deals with homosexuality, and both sides of the debate are summarized. He also shares how he has come to an affirming view on same-sex marriage and full inclusion within the church.
Journal Articles (typically not light reading)
- “Continuity in the Face of Social Change: Demographic Shifts and the United Methodist Church’s Institutional Conservatism on Sexuality” by Scott Vehstedt in the Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies. (55 pages) Link to the article.
This article contains good historical background on the history of legislation within the United Methodist Church relative to homosexuality.
- “Constitutional Methodism in Crisis: Historical and Operational Perspectives on Divisions Threatening United Methodism” by William B Lawrence and Sally Curtis AsKew in the Methodist Review: A Journal of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies. (72 pages) Link to the article. Creating a free login is required to view the article.
This article contains background information related to the different ‘branches’ of the United Methodist structure (General Conference, Council of Bishops, and Judicial Council) and how the constitution of the church has impacted the discussion and decisions relative to homosexuality.