By Heather Hahn
Jan. 22, 2018 | UMNS
The Commission on a Way Forward is fleshing out the details of three possible models for how the denomination treats LGBTQ inclusion. The multinational group, appointed by United Methodist bishops, held its seventh meeting behind closed doors Jan. 18-20 in Dallas.
Each model has its supporters among the 32 commission members with no single plan having a clear majority, commission members told United Methodist News Service. “Some commission members prefer one sketch; others prefer a different sketch,” the Rev. Tom Lambrecht said. “There’s no one sketch that pre-dominates how we think is the best way to go forward.” Dave Nuckols, another commission member, said that it’s less relevant which model commission members prefer than that they provide the bishops what they need.
The bishops also have asked the commission to draft a theological statement that both informs the three models and creates a compelling narrative for them. “Ultimately, the final report of our work is really not going to be our final report,” Nuckols said. “It’s going to be what the bishops make of our work because we are supporting them.”
The three options, in no particular order, are:
1. Affirm the current Book of Discipline language and place a high value on accountability. The church policy book says the practice of homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching” and lists officiating at a same-gender union or being a “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy member as chargeable offenses under church law.
2. Remove restrictive language and place a high value on contextualization. This sketch also specifically protects the rights of those whose conscience will not allow them to perform same-gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ persons.
3. Create multiple branches that have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization and justice. This model would maintain shared doctrine and services and one Council of Bishops.
All three models come with a way for churches to exit the denomination. Read the full article at: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/way-forward-fleshing-out-3-possible-futures
By Heather Hahn