As some of you know, every four years United Methodist delegates from around the world gather as a global church for General Conference. It is a two-week event that includes times of worship, reports, and legislation to set the course for the denomination for the following quadrennial. Earlier this week our Council of Bishops recommended, and the General Conference passed, a plan to nominate a special commission to, in their words, “Develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.” This commission will bring to the General Conference, either in 2020 or before if their work is completed earlier, a plan (or multiple plans) to deal with the issues surrounding human sexuality. We as a denomination have been struggling with these issues for over 40 years. Over the last four decades, General Conference has consistently voted to maintain the current language in our Book of Discipline. This is a summary of our current language:
It is important to note that no legislation was dealt with by the body regarding these issues, and the official policies of our denomination remain in place. Whatever you may hear in the media about who we are as United Methodists and where we are headed, please know that the General Conference is the only body that officially speaks for the denomination and it has left our Book of Discipline intact on all issues related to sexuality – our position as a church has not changed.
What does it mean for us here at Central? How does it affect us as a congregation? The immediate answer is that it does not affect us at all. We will continue to love God and love others with the heart of Christ. We will continue to Connect People to Christ as we worship fully, grow deeply, give freely, share passionately, and love unconditionally. The long-term answer is still to be determined, but I trust in the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, and I know that whatever arrangement is worked out over the coming years, Central’s mission will not change and we will remain committed to fulfilling that mission. I invite you to join me in prayer for this commission and for our denomination as we seek a way forward.