by Chris Ritter

Updated 08/19/2018

The following are materials generated from the United Methodist Way Forward process. I hope this will be useful for folks trying to keep up with what is happening.  Check back on this post often as I will be adding resources as I become aware of them.  Realizing the potential for unfortunate omissions, I invite you to make suggestions in the comment section below.  Find The Commission on a Way Forward Report here.

Recent Additions

A Way Forward into Cultural Diversity” by Thomas Bandy.  A non-United Methodist familiar with the UMC offers insights from his recent book in support of the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-19-2018)

The Hopefulness of Mission, or Why I am Not Worried about the Future of the UMC” by Lisa Beth White.  The Founder of Sister of Hope Ministries shares her confidence that mission will continue no matter what happens to the UMC.  “I choose to live in a posture of hope because the mission work of everyday United Methodists reveals the ongoing call of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in love.”  (Added 8-18-2018)

Marriage and the One Church Plan” by Tom Lambrecht.  Member of the Way Forward Commission and VP of Good News analyzes the definition of marriage created by the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-17-2018)

February 2019 and the Illusion of Uncertainty” by Chrisie Reeves-Pendergrass.  The institution may fail, but the Kingdom will endure.  (Added 8-17-2018)

UM Voices: Do No Harm?” by Sara Anderson via UMAction.  A response to Bishop Carder’s post about splitting the UMC over human sexuality issues being “tacky.”  Anderson outlines harm that would come through the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-16-2018)

Opening Judicial Council Briefs on the Way Forward Report” shared by Lonnie Brooks.  A collection of opening briefs before the Judicial Council in preparation for their deliberation on the Way Forward Plans in Zurich in October 2018.  Briefs are filed by Bill Lawrence, Lonnie Brooks, John Lomperis, Tom Berlin, Tom Lambrecht, Keith Boyette, Keith McIlwain, Lonnie Chafin, Nathanael Fugate, Paul Fleck, and Robert Zilhaver.  Most deal with constitutional problems with the One Church Plan. (Added 8-15-2018)

The One Church Plan:  Unlikely Opponents” by Chris Ritter.  In addition to unanimous rejection by traditionalist groups, the One Church Plan is drawing criticism from those who affirm same-sex marriage.  (Added 7-15-2018)

The Traditional Plan” by Walter Fenton.  The Vice President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association describes the Traditional Plan that is included in the Commission on a Way Forward report. (Added 7-15-2018)

Preparing for Nothing (or for Anything) from General Conference”  by Michael Coyner.  A retired bishop argues that the mission will go on no matter what GC2019 does. (Added 8-15-2018)

Splitting the Church is Just ‘Tacky’” by Kenneth Carder.  A retired bishop acknowledges the institution must change, but argues against a traditionalist/progressive split. (Added 7-15-2018)

Top Court Sets October Oral Hearings: Updated” by Linda Bloom @ UMNS.  Additional details are added about the October 23-26 oral hearings in Zurich about the Way Forward proposals, including who will participate in oral arguments. (Added 8-14-2018)

The #UMC: A Time to Love” by Ken Loyer.  Wesleyan Way shares this challenge to use our doctrinal heritage as we discern a Way Forward in love.  (Added 8-13-2018)

Problems with the One Church Plan” by Ted Campbell.  Professor of Church History at Perkins School of Theology talks about how the One Church Plan excludes laity to the harm of the church, and potentially to the harm of gay or lesbian candidates for ministry.  (Added 8-13-2018)

LGBTQ United Methodist Clergy: Expect More Protests and Defiance Surrounding General Conference 2019” by Dan Moran.  IRD reports from the recent “For Everyone Born” Gathering of LYNC. (Added 8-13-2019)

Korean United Methodists Choose Prayer Over Plans” by Rev. Thomas Kim via UMNS.  Korean United Methodists take their concerns about the Way Forward plans to prayer. (Added 8-11-2018)

Top Court Sets October Oral Hearings” by Linda Bloom of UMNS.  Information about the October 2018 Judicial Council proceedings where a declaratory decision related to the constitutionality of the three Way Forward Plans may be decided.  (Added 8-11-2018)

Adam Hamilton:  Liberal United Methodists Have a ‘High View’ of Scripture, Too” by Dan Moran.  Hamilton’s talk at the Uniting Conference is critiqued as dismissive of scriptures we, in our culture and experience, find problematic.  (Added 8-11-2018)

Episcopalians and the One Church Plan” by Thomas Lambrecht.  Way Forward Commissioner Tom Lambrecht discusses the effects of the One Church Plan upon the Episcopal Church.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  (Added 8-11-2018)

What’s Wrong with the Traditional Plan – Part Three” by David Livingstone.  A GC delegate offers the final part of his critique of the Traditional Plan.  (Added 8-11-2018)

Uniting Methodists Panelists:  ‘The Bible is Wrong’” by Dan Moran.  The IRD reports on comments by Millennial Generation panelists at the Uniting Methodist gathering in Dallas. (Added 8-10-2018)

Why Are ‘Traditionalist Compatiblists’ So Hard to Find?” by Chris Ritter.  A re-post by WCA of an article analyzing the various categories in the UMC relative to the matters facing us at GC2019.  (Added 8-10-2018)

The One Church Plan” by Walter Fenton.  The Vice President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association analyzes the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Traditionalism:  Hard Hearts and Dull Ears” by Bill Trench.  A supporter of Uniting Methodists and One Church Plan attempts to walk back some radical comments made by a group of young adults about Scripture at the recent Uniting Methodist Conference.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Who Will Have Power of Attorney to Care for the Ailing #UMC?” by Jeremy Smith.  The author describes the Way Forward plans as siblings vying for legal control of a parent in Hospice, the UMC.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Meet Us in St. Louis” by Austin L. Adkinson.  The Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC) is not of one mind whether to support the One Church Plan or the “Simple Plan.”  (Added 8-9-2018)

Conferences Unite on Welcoming Immigrants” by Heather Hahn via UMNS.  This roundup of annual conference actions from 2018 includes responses to the Way Forward proposals.  (Added 8-9-2018)

What are United Methodist views on Homosexuality in the Philippines?”  by Dr. David Scott.  The Director of Mission Theology for GBGM reflects on views related to human sexuality in the Philippines.  (Added 8-8-2018)

A Second Question for My Traditionalist Friends” by Jack Harnish.  A supporter of the One Church Plan wonders why the Traditionalist Plan doesn’t say more about polygamy. Posted August 5, 2018 (Added 8-8-2018)

A Question for My Traditionalist Friends” by Jack Harnish.  A supporter of the One Church Plan wonders about the future of theological education in the Traditional Plan passes.  Posted 7-29-2018 (Added 8-8-2018)

THE Issue Facing American United Methodism” by Bob Phillips.  A General Conference delegate discussed the single issue that General Conference 2019 must address and it is not human sexuality.  (Added 8-4-2018)

E Unam Pluribus” by Chappell Temple.   The pastor of Christ UMC in Sugarland, Texas reflects on the Way Forward options, referencing this post by Bob Phillips. (Added 8-3-2018)

Brief Emotional Video shared by First United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California on the Way Forward.  (Added 8-3-2018)

When Unity at All Costs is Too Costly” by Paul Lawler.  This article by the pastor of Christ Church in Birmingham was shared by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. (Added 8-3-2018)

Petitions Submitted to General Conference 2019

Way Forward Report Released in All Four Official Languages of General Conference” by UMC Council of Bishops.  In this long-anticipated “official” release of the final Way Forward Report, versions are offered in English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili. (Added 7-31-2018)

The Commission on a Way Forward Report released as docket-10-2018-12 by the Judicial Council from the Council of Bishops. (Added 7-17-2018)

Petitions available on the Wesleyan Covenant Association site:

Modified-Traditional-Plan-Dunnam-512 Filed by Maxie Dunnam,  these modifications to the Traditional Plan are reported as supported by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. This one focuses on episcopal accountability through a modified global structure.  See also theModified-Traditional-Plan-Dunnam-2801-rationale (Added 7-20-2018)

Modified-Traditional-Plan-Dunnam-2801 Filed by Maxie Dunnam,  these modifications to the Traditional Plan are reported as supported by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. This one focuses on changes to Par. 2801 allowing affiliated autonomous conferences.  See also the Modified-Traditional-Plan-Dunnam-2801-rationale (Added 7-20-2018)

Plan of Dissolution submitted by Keith Boyette.  This plan of last resort dissolves the United Methodist Church so that new connections can spring up. (Added 7-30-2018)

Rationale-Plan-of-Dissolution-as-Way-Forward (1) submitted by Keith Boyette.  Not endorsed by the Wesleyan Covenant Association, this petition was individually submitted by Keith Boyette “just in case all else fails.”  It provides for the dissolution of The United Methodist Church so that its component parts can reorganize into different forms.  See also Rationale-Plan-of-Dissolution-as-Way-Forward   (Added 7-20-2018)

Surrender-of-Charter-and-Disaffiliation submitted by Keith Boyette.  Not endorsed by WCA, “a petition has been filed to provide such an exit path. It would allow local churches to leave the denomination with all their property and assets, and their liabilities. And of course, such churches would agree to satisfy their proportionate share of the UM Church’s unfunded liabilities (largely related to pre-1982 pension benefits). All churches and the denomination will benefit from the provision of a generous exit path. Such a provision enables us to do unto others as we would have done to us. Additionally, providing such an exit ramp will permit the UM Church to move forward focused on its mission without the crippling distraction of further conflict over the church’s sexual ethics, teachings on marriage, and its ordination standards. It would be far better off moving ahead with the willing, not the constrained.” See also Rationale-Surrender-of-Charter-and-Disaffiliation. (Added 7-20-2018)

A Simple Plan” General Conference petitions submitted by the Queer Clergy Caucus.  Amendments to the Book of Discipline to remove all prohibitions around homosexual practice.  (Added 7-18-2018)

A Traditional Way Forward with Enhanced Enforcement” by Lonnie Brooks. Legislation proposed by a long-time lay leader of the Alaska Conference. (added 7-18-2018)

Petition v7(a) JoeK discontinue Karen Oliveto July 2018” by Joe Kilpatrick.  This General Conference petition provides for the removal of Rev. Karen Oliveto from the general superintendency of the UMC.  The action returns her as a clergy member to her annual conference.  Salary and benefits would continue for a time to ease her transition.  A delay in action is granted if General Conference passes a mechanism to allow Bishop Oliveto to transfer into a new Progressive Methodist connection. (Added 7-12-2018)

Lifewatch Proposal to Replace Paragraph 161.G at GC2019” submitted by Paul Stallsworth. (Added 7-12-2018)

Petitions Submitted by Lonnie Brooks, lay member from the Alaska Annual Conference.  Brooks explains his multiple proposals here. (6-6-2018)

One Church Plan Summary by Way Forward Commissioner Rev. Donna Pritchard.  These images were tweeted by Rev. Jeremy Smith from a presentation to the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. (6-13-2018)

What is in the One Church Plan?” by Tom Lambrecht.  Way Forward Commissioner Tom Lambrecht offers details of the One Church Plan.  (Added 7-12-2018)

The Long and Winding Road to St. Louis” by Keith Boyette.  The President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association summarizes legislation being submitted by the Renewal and Reform Coalition. (6-22-2018)

Critique and Analysis of Way Forward Plans

A Way Forward into Cultural Diversity” by Thomas Bandy.  A non-United Methodist familiar with the UMC offers insights from his recent book in support of the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-19-2018)

Marriage and the One Church Plan” by Tom Lambrecht.  Member of the Way Forward Commission and VP of Good News analyzes the definition of marriage created by the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-17-2018)

UM Voices: Do No Harm?” by Sara Anderson via UMAction.  A response to Bishop Carder’s post about splitting the UMC over human sexuality issues being “tacky.”  Anderson outlines harm that would come through the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-16-2018)

The One Church Plan:  Unlikely Opponents” by Chris Ritter.  In addition to unanimous rejection by traditionalist groups, the One Church Plan is drawing criticism from those who affirm same-sex marriage.  (Added 7-15-2018)

The Traditional Plan” by Walter Fenton.  The Vice President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association describes the Traditional Plan that is included in the Commission on a Way Forward report. (Added 7-15-2018)

Problems with the One Church Plan” by Ted Campbell.  Professor of Church History at Perkins School of Theology talks about how the One Church Plan excludes laity to the harm of the church, and potentially to the harm of gay or lesbian candidates for ministry.  (Added 8-13-2018)

What’s Wrong with the Traditional Plan – Part Three” by David Livingstone.  A GC delegate offers the final part of his critique of the Traditional Plan.  (Added 8-11-2018)

Episcopalians and the One Church Plan” by Thomas Lambrecht.  Way Forward Commissioner Tom Lambrecht discusses the effects of the One Church Plan upon the Episcopal Church.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  (Added 8-11-2018)

The One Church Plan” by Walter Fenton.  The Vice President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association analyzes the One Church Plan.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Traditionalism:  Hard Hearts and Dull Ears” by Bill Trench.  A supporter of Uniting Methodists and One Church Plan attempts to walk back some radical comments made by a group of young adults about Scripture at the recent Uniting Methodist Conference.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Who Will Have Power of Attorney to Care for the Ailing #UMC?” by Jeremy Smith.  The author describes the Way Forward plans as siblings vying for legal control of a parent in Hospice, the UMC.  (Added 8-10-2018)

Meet Us in St. Louis” by Austin L. Adkinson.  The Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC) is not of one mind whether to support the One Church Plan or the “Simple Plan.”  (Added 8-9-2018)

Conferences Unite on Welcoming Immigrants” by Heather Hahn via UMNS.  This roundup of annual conference actions from 2018 includes responses to the Way Forward proposals.  (Added 8-9-2018)

A Second Question for My Traditionalist Friends” by Jack Harnish.  A supporter of the One Church Plan wonders why the Traditionalist Plan doesn’t say more about polygamy. Posted August 5, 2018 (Added 8-8-2018)

A Question for My Traditionalist Friends” by Jack Harnish.  A supporter of the One Church Plan wonders about the future of theological education in the Traditional Plan passes.  Posted 7-29-2018 (Added 8-8-2018)

E Unam Pluribus” by Chappell Temple.   The pastor of Christ UMC in Sugarland, Texas reflects on the Way Forward options, referencing this post by Bob Phillips. (Added 8-3-2018)

When Unity at All Costs is Too Costly” by Paul Lawler.  This article by the pastor of Christ Church in Birmingham was shared by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. (Added 8-3-2018)

St. Louis Approaches” an update by Good News.  Articles on Rob Renfroe and James Howell’s back and forth, along with news about work being done to promote the “One Church Plan.”  (Added 8-2-2018)

Analyses of the Way Forward Report and Plans” by Bishop Scott Jones.  The resident bishop of the Texas Annual Conference offers separate analyses of the Way Forward Report, The One Church Plan, The Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan. (Added 8-2-2018)

Grocery Store Marketing Explains the WCA’s Plan of Dissolution for the UMC” by Jeremy Smith.  Smith believes that WCA has included a plan of Dissolution to make the Traditional Plan seek more moderate.  (Added 8-2-2018)

Circuit Rider’s August/September/October Issue is called “Decision 2019” and features a “Foreword” by Bishop Ken Carter, “One Church, Many Contexts” by Bishop Carter, “A Heart at Peace” by Bishop Grant Hagiya, “The Playing Field: Scripture and the Traditional Faith of the Church” by Jessica LaGrone, “How to Love Through Resistance” by Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, “How Does our Decision Affect the Local Church?” by Tom Berlin, “Agreement ‘to’ Rather than Agreement ‘with‘” by Bishop John Schol, “Church Dividing Issues” by Bishop Gregory Palmer, “Economic and Pension Consequences of GC2019 Actions” by Barbara Boigegrain, and “Unity for the Sake of Mission” by Mande Muyombo.

Just say No to the Local Option, Part Two” by Ben Witherington.  An Asbury Seminary Professor Critiques the One Church Plan in Patheos, July 9. See the first post in this series here.  (Added 7-31-2018)  See also: “Does the UMC Have a Way Forward?  The Problem with Outdated Arguments” by Karen Keen via Ministry Matters.  A critique of Ben Witherington’s post against the One Church Plan. (Added 7-31-2018)

The Way Forward” by Steve Wood.  The pastor of Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, a very large North Georgia Congregation, reflects on the options before the UMC.  (Added 7-31-2018)

LGBTQ Advocates Conflicted on Way Forward” by Heather Hahn via UMNS.  Report from the recent ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Coalition gatherings in St. Louis. (Added 7-31-2018)

What’s Wrong with the Traditionalist Plan – A Partial List” by David Livingstone.  A Kansas clergy and General Conference delegate critiques the Traditionalist Plan. (Added 7-30-2018)  (See also Part Two, added 8-3-2018)

The Connectional Conference Plan and the Scope of the Commission on a Way Forward” by David Scott.  The Director of Mission Theology for the GBGM analyzes the Connectional Conference Plan.  (Added 7-28-2018)

Four Reasons for Truly Traditional Annual Conferences” by Chris Ritter.  (Added 7-27-2018)

The Liberal UMC Bishops’ Plan, Part Five:  Bringing Peace and Unity, or Something Else?” by John Lomperis.  The Director of UM Action continued his series on the One Church Plan, arguing that it would not bring peace but turmoil.  (Added 7-27-2018)

The Theology of the One Church Plan” by Teddy Ray.  The Lead Pastor of Offerings United Methodist Church in Lexington critiques the theology behind the One Church Plan.  (Added 7-26-2018)

The Final Nail in the Mainline Coffin?” by Rev. Lynn Malone.  The pastor of First UMC in Monroe, Louisiana (and a former district superintendent) summarized the Way Forward proposals and shares his opposition to the One Church Plan. (Added 7-26-2018)

Glide Church and the Way Forward” by Riley Case.  This analysis of the situation with Glide Memorial and the UMC was offered on The Confessing Movement Facebook page on July 9, 2018.  (Added 7-27-2018)

What’s In the Connectional Conference Plan?” by Tom Lambrecht.  Way Forward Commissioner summarizes the Connectional Conference Plan.  (Added 7-26-2018)

The Liberal UMC Bishops’ Plan, Part Four:  How It Tramples on Traditionalists’ Consiences, Despite Assurances to the Contrary” by John Lomperis.  The Director of UM Action continues his critique of the One Church Plan.  (Added 7-26-2018)

The Liberal UMC Bishops’ Plan, Part Three: How It Would Harm United Methodists Outside the USA” by John Lomperis.  The Director of UM Action argues that the One Church Plan is harmful to UM’s in the Central Conferences. (Added 7-25-2018)

“The Liberal UMC Bishops’ Plan, Part Two:  Going Much Further than a ‘Local Option‘” by John Lomperis.  The Director of UM Action argues that the One Church Plan changes the marriage standards for the entire UMC and gives laity no voice at the annual conference level. (Added 7-25-2018)

The Liberal UMC Bishops’ Plan, Part 1: Summary” by John Lomperis.  The Director of UM Action summarizes the One Church Plan. (Added 7-25-2018)

A Response to James C. Howell” by Rob Renfroe.  The President of Good News responds to a blog critical of him.  In this is an impassioned warning against the effects of the One Church Plan. (Added 7-25-2018)

Resurrecting the UMC:  The Simple Plan” by Jeremy Smith.  A Progressive clergy advocates for the plan submitted by the Queer Clergy Caucus. (Added 7-21-2018)

Rage Against the UMC:  The Traditionalist Plan” by Jeremy Smith via UM Insight. (Added 7-21-2018)

Reversing the UMC: The Connectional Conference Plan” by Jeremy Smith via UM Insight.  (Added 7-21-2018)

Wespath FAQs: Commission on a Way Forward.    Wespath, formerly the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, offers this Q&A about their review of the Way Forward options.  (Added 7-20-2018)

Realigning the UMC:  The One Church Plan” by Jeremy Smith.  A Progressive blogger argues for the One Church Plan as not Progressive. (Added 7-19-2018).

What is in the Traditional Plan?” by Tom Lambrecht.  Way Forward Commissioner and VP of Good News summarizes the Traditional Way Forward Plan. (Added 7-19-2018)

The ‘None Church’ Plan of the UMC” by Tim McClendon.  The Pastor of St. John’s UMC in Aiken, South Carolina critiques the One Church Plan.  (Added 7-18-2018)

Response to the Way Forward Report by Lonnie Brooks.  Brooks names the errors of commission and omission in the One Church Plan.  (Added 7-18-2018)

First Read: The Way Forward Report” by Chris Ritter.  An analysis of the report offered by The Commission on a Way Forward. (Added 7-17-2018)

The One Church Plan & The Big Red Button” by Chris Ritter.  A General Conference delegate analyzes the potential for harm in the One Church Plan.  (06-27-2018)

Why the 2019 General Conference WILL Fail and CAN Succeed” by Dr. Bob Phillips.  A General Conference delegate analyzes the hopes and risks for GC2019.  (6-24-2018)

Finding a Faithful Future“, a speech by Tom Lambrecht to the Iowa Chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.  A Way Forward Commissioner (and VP of Good News) gives his perspective on the decisions facing the United Methodist Church. He supports the Traditionalist Plan and argues against the One Church Plan. (6-23-2018)

Branded” by Chuck Griffin.  The blog of the Holston Conference WCA argues that the One Church Plan would create even more confusion in the United Methodist brand. (6-22-2018)

Two Cheers for the Connectional Conference Plan” by Ted Campbell.  An endorsement of the Connection Conference Plan developed by the Commission on a Way Forward. (6-21-2018)

The Fate of the Report of the Commission on a Way Forward” by Lonnie D. Brooks.  The Lay Leader of the Alaska Annual Conference argues that the One Church Plan will run afoul of the UMC’s Constitution due to Judicial Council Ruling 1208. This was copied from his Facebook post.  (6-14-2018)

One Church Plan Summary by Way Forward Commissioner Rev. Donna Pritchard.  These images were tweeted by Rev. Jeremy Smith from a presentation to the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. (6-13-2018)

Two Cheers for the Connectional Conference Plan” by Ted Campbell.  An endorsement of the Connection Conference Plan developed by the Commission on a Way Forward. (6-21-2018)

3,000 Words on the Way Forward” by “untiedmethodists.org.”   A picture is worth a thousand words.  Option One represents the Traditionalist Plan, Option #2 the Connectional Conference Plan, and Option #3 the One Church Plan.  (6-10-2018)

Six Questions for the One Church/Local Option Plan” and “Six Questions for the Enforcement/Traditional Model” by Bob Phillips (6-7-2018)

Tom Berlin’s Way Forward Presentation to the Virginia Annual Conference (video filmed around June 16) A member of the Commission on a Way Forward and supporter of the One Church Plan presents to his home conference.  (added 7-04-2018)

Commission on a Way Forward Report Not Released” by Wesleyan Covenant Association.  This update cites a Council of Bishops memo from July 6 stating that the translation process HAS NOT BEGUN. (Added 7-9-2018)

The Past and Future of the United Methodist Church, with Professor Ted Campbell” in The Plain Truth: A Holy Spirited Podcast.  “Methonerd Heaven” is reached as academics discuss what went wrong in the development of The United Methodist Church.  The Connectional Conference Way Forward Plan is also discussed.  (added 7-16-2018)

October 2018 Judicial Council Rulings

Opening Judicial Council Briefs on the Way Forward Report” shared by Lonnie Brooks.  A collection of opening briefs before the Judicial Council in preparation for their deliberation on the Way Forward Plans in Zurich in October 2018.  Briefs are filed by Bill Lawrence, Lonnie Brooks, John Lomperis, Tom Berlin, Tom Lambrecht, Keith Boyette, Keith McIlwain, Lonnie Chafin, Nathanael Fugate, Paul Fleck, and Robert Zilhaver.  (Added 8-15-2018)

Top Court Sets October Oral Hearings: Updated” by Linda Bloom @ UMNS.  Additional details are added about the October 23-26 oral hearings in Zurich about the Way Forward proposals, including who will participate in oral arguments. (Added 8-14-2018)

Top Court Sets October Oral Hearings” by Linda Bloom of UMNS.  Information about the October 2018 Judicial Council proceedings where a declaratory decision related to the constitutionality of the three Way Forward Plans may be decided.  (Added 8-11-2018)

Brooks Opening Brief on the Constitutionality of the Traditional Plan” by Lonnie Brooks.  This brief is submitted for the October 2018 Docket of the UMC Judicial Council on a requested declaratory decision about the constitutionality of the Way Forward Plans. (Added 7-30-2018)

Brooks Opening Brief on the Constitutionality of the One Church Plan” by Lonnie Brooks.  This brief is submitted for the October 2018 Docket of the UMC Judicial Council on a requested declaratory decision about the constitutionality of the Way Forward Plans.  (Added 7-30-2018)

About General Conference 2019

February 2019 and the Illusion of Uncertainty” by Chrisie Reeves-Pendergrass.  The institution may fail, but the Kingdom will endure.  (Added 8-17-2018)

Preparing for Nothing (or for Anything) from General Conference”  by Michael Coyner.  A retired bishop argues that the mission will go on no matter what GC2019 does. (Added 8-15-2018)

LGBTQ United Methodist Clergy: Expect More Protests and Defiance Surrounding General Conference 2019” by Dan Moran.  IRD reports from the recent “For Everyone Born” Gathering of LYNC. (Added 8-13-2019)

Uniting Methodists Panelists:  ‘The Bible is Wrong’” by Dan Moran.  The IRD reports on comments by Millennial Generation panelists at the Uniting Methodist gathering in Dallas. (Added 8-10-2018)

Why Are ‘Traditionalist Compatiblists’ So Hard to Find?” by Chris Ritter.  A re-post by WCA of an article analyzing the various categories in the UMC relative to the matters facing us at GC2019.  (Added 8-10-2018)

THE Issue Facing American United Methodism” by Bob Phillips.  A General Conference delegate discussed the single issue that General Conference 2019 must address and it is not human sexuality.  (Added 8-4-2018)

Executive Summary of the Way Forward Report” from The Texas Annual Conference Website.  (Added 8-2-2018)

Circuit Rider’s August/September/October Issue is called “Decision 2019” and features a “Foreword” by Bishop Ken Carter, “One Church, Many Contexts” by Bishop Carter, “A Heart at Peace” by Bishop Grant Hagiya, “The Playing Field: Scripture and the Traditional Faith of the Church” by Jessica LaGrone, “How to Love Through Resistance” by Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, “How Does our Decision Affect the Local Church?” by Tom Berlin, “Agreement ‘to’ Rather than Agreement ‘with‘” by Bishop John Schol, “Church Dividing Issues” by Bishop Gregory Palmer, “Economic and Pension Consequences of GC2019 Actions” by Barbara Boigegrain, and “Unity for the Sake of Mission” by Mande Muyombo.

For Everyone Born” video links of the St. Louis Gathering of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, July 26-29. (Added 7-31-2018)

Landmark Decisions for UMC Predicted at Conference” by Bill Bumpas of One News Now.   A news outlet reports on John Lomperis’ thoughts about the upcoming General Conference 2019.  (Added 7-31-2018)

Taking the Ugly Out of General Conference 2019” by Chris Ritter.  Strategies for treating each other like brothers and sisters in Christ at General Conference 2019: Use the Golden Rule, Retain Connection, and Think about the Mission.  (Added 7-30-2018)

FAQ’s, Number 2:  The State of the United Methodist Church” by The Wesleyan Covenant Association.  Questions about the upcoming General Conference are answered.  (Added 7-27-2018)

Seeking Higher Ground:  Conversations in the UMC” by Carolyn Moore.  The pastor of Mosaic Church in Augusta, Georgia suggests some essential categories when United Methodists conference together.  Written June 10, 2018 (Added 7-23-2018)

Commission Reverses Special Session Registration Fees” by UMNS.  Other funds were found to cover the $3.7 million price tag of GC2019.  (Added 7-13-2018)

UMC Bishops Amend Call for 2019 Special Session of General Conference” UMNS.  (Added 7-9-2018)

UMC Bishops Amend Call for 2019 Special Session of General Conference” UMNS.  See actual call text here.  (Added 7-9-2018)

Bishops Change Call for General Conference” by Tom Lambrecht via Good News.  A traditionalist Way Forward Commissioner shares why he thinks that the change of call is good news.  (Added 7-9-2018)

Key Issue: Should a Gracious Exit be Approved as part of the Way Forward?

Note:  This question is being asked often as we await the Way Forward report’s release in June.  From what I am hearing, an exit provision will be included in the appendices of the report as an unendorsed option that could be exercised by General Conference.  I am told it is a “connectional” exit rather than a congregational exit… meaning that it allows clergy and congregations to form autonomous Methodist conferences rather than allows individual congregations to leave.  (The trust clause would be transferred rather than released.)  The exit included could conceivable be applied to any plan.  I am told the Traditionalist Model includes a gracious exit provision. (6-02-2018)

Exit Ramps & the Way Forward” by Chris Ritter (2-13-2018)  What form would a denominational exit ramp take?  Congregational or connectional?

Why I am Not Afraid of the ‘Gracious Exit’” by Bryan Bucher (5-30-2018).  This voice from the “Uniting Methodists” offers his analysis on the upcoming votes at General Conference 2019 and why a gracious exit may be warranted.

Gracious Accommodation Resolution.  This resolution will be offered in several annual conferences in 2018.  This non-binding resolution calls for allowing a gracious exit to those who cannot agree with the decision make at GC2019.  This version was offered in the Texas Conference and was defeated by a narrow margin.

No ‘Gracious Exit’ for Oakland – Or Anyone?” by Joshua Alexander (5-21-2018)  The author writes about how the Baltimore-Washington Conference is handling a congregation seeking to leave the denomination and how that relates to the Way Forward.

UMNS:  “Church Leaders Hear Way Forward Update” (2-12-2018) The Commission on a Way Forward Promised an Exit Provision with Each Way Forward Model.

What the Bishops Really Did” by Tom Lambrecht (May 2018)  A Way Forward Commissioner interprets the Council of Bishops action, including removing exit provisions from their main proposal: “The bishops decided that their mandate was to provide for the unity of the church, not to encourage the departure of congregations and clergy. Therefore, an exit path will not be part of their One Church proposal. However, at least one form of exit path legislation will be included in the supplemental material, and it could be added by the General Conference delegates to any of the plans. Other exit path proposals could be submitted as part of the regular petition process, if permitted by the Judicial Council, or else submitted independently. The delegates could add any of these exit path proposals to any of the plans.”

Conference Claims Property of Exiting Church” (UMNS) by Heather Hahn.  (5-31-2018)

Conferences Play Hardball with Exiting Churches” (Good News Magazine) by Tom Lambrecht. (6-15-2018)

A Statement Against Rescinding the Trust Clause by Morgan Guyton on Patheos.  The head of a progressive campus ministry in the Deep South shares concerns about how removing the trust clause might affect funding to extension ministries.  (6-17-2018)

Key Issue: Will Outside Petitions Be Allowed at GC2019?

UMNS: Council of Bishops seeks a Declaratory Decision from Judicial Council on GC2019. (4-10-2018)

UMNS:  Judicial Council Announces Special May 22-25 Session. (4-16-2918)

Docket of Special May 2018 Judicial Council session on this topic.

Read the briefs filed for this Judicial Council Decision.  Of Note:

  • Bishops Ough and Jones disagree on both the facts and the application of church law.
  • Annual Conference chancellors write to limit actions available to General Conference 2019.
  • Lonnie Brooks and renewal leaders work to allow petitions from outside groups.

UMNS: The Judicial Council to Hold Oral Hearing on Bishops’ Request.  Not all who filed briefs will be allowed to make oral arguments. (5-13-2018)

UMNS: Church Court Asked to Set Scope of Petitions (5-16-2018)  A summary of the arguments to be made before the Judicial Council’s hearing.

Link to video of Oral Hearing by the Judicial Council (5-22-2018).  Oral arguments before the Judicial Council.  Fascinating to watch.

UMNS: “Question to Court:  Who Can Submit Petitions?” (5-22-2018)

UMNS: “Bishops Urge Judicial Council to Restrict Petitions to the 2019 General Conference” (5-23-2019)

Good News:  “Leadership or Manipulation?” by Way Forward Commissioner Tom Lambrecht (5-24-2018)

The Judicial Council Decision (5-25-2018).  The Judicial Council voted 8-1 to allow outside petitions to General Conference 2018.

Responses to the Judicial Council Decision:

UMNS:  “Court Ruling Spurs Competing Interpretations” (5-29-2018)

Constitutional Methodism in Crisis” (May 2018) by William Lawrence and Sally Curtis Askew in The Methodist Review.  This scholarly paper argues that the bishops improperly inserted themselves in the Way Forward process and perhaps illegally edited the work of The Commission on a Way Forward.  The overall bent of the paper is that prohibitions against practicing homosexuals are unconstitutional.  This claim has been made before Judicial Council several times and has not been supported by that body.

“UMC Roundup:  (or ‘Fun Times with the Judicial Council’)” by David Watson.  Academic Dean of United Theological Seminary explores the footnote in the recent Judicial Council ruling that says that the Council of Bishops do not have authority to bring recommendations to General Conference 2019. (6-13-2018)

May 2018 Council of Bishops Recommendations:  News and Views

Council of Bishops’ Initial Press Release and Recommendations

UMNS: “Bishops’ Proposal Garners Range of Responses.”

UMNS:  “Bishops’ Action Leads to Questions” (5-15-2018)

Council of Bishops Outgoing President Bruce Ough Video

The Wesleyan Covenant Association’s Statement on the Bishops’ Recommendations

Reconciling Ministries Network Statement

Adam Hamilton’s Statement

Good News’ Statement

UM Queer Clergy Caucus’ Statement

Mark Tooley’s video comments

Bishop Scott Jones’ Livestream event in the Texas Conference with Commissioners Jessica LaGrone and Leah Taylor.  (May 12, 2018) Key revelations (some of which are contained in the online chat Q&A that followed):

  1. The number of bishops actually supporting the One Church Model is higher than 50% but lower than 66%.
  2. The level of support from the bishops for their recommendation only reached 80% with the inclusion of the Traditionalist Model.
  3. The Traditionalist Model was only in sketch form for the bishops and The Commission is fleshing that sketch out now.  It must be approved by the Executive Team of the Council of Bishops.
  4. There is not a gracious exit provision in the One Church Model and Connectional Conference plan as presently written.
  5. The Connectional Conference Plan would likely result in two “jurisdictions,” not three.

Council of Bishops’ Clarification on What they Did. (May 18, 2018)

Way Forward Commissioner Tom Lambrecht’s Interpretation of the shape of the Way Forward Report. (May 18, 2018)

UMNS:  “Ask the UMC:  Can you Explain Way Forward Plans, COB recommendation?” (5-22-2018)

Selected Statements by Individual Bishops:

Council of Bishops video supporting the One Church Model. (5-29-2018)

Constitutional Methodism in Crisis” (May 2018) by William Lawrence and Sally Curtis Askew in The Methodist Review.  This scholarly paper argues that the bishops improperly inserted themselves in the Way Forward process and perhaps illegally edited the work of The Commission on a Way Forward.  The overall bent of the paper is that prohibitions against practicing homosexuals are unconstitutional.

Rob Renfroe’s speech at the Confessing Movement luncheon at the Texas Annual Conference (6-1-2018).  The President of Good News gives a presentation about the weaknesses of the One Church Plan from a Traditionalist point of view.

3,000 Words on the Way Forward” by “untiedmethodists.org.”   A picture is worth a thousand words.  Option One represents the Traditionalist Plan, Option #2 the Connectional Conference Plan, and Option #3 the One Church Plan.  (6-10-2018)

Methodists, The Politics of Leverage, and the Future of Protestantism” by Frederick Schmidt. (6-11-2018) Chair of Spiritual Formation at Garrett Evangelical Seminary (an Episcopalian) analyzes what the Methodist crisis reveals about the past, present, and future of Protestantism.

Six Questions for the One Church/Local Option Plan” and “Six Questions for the Enforcement/Traditional Model” by Bob Phillips (6-7-2018)

NGAC Straw Poll.  This Facebook post relays the results of a straw poll taken at the North Georgia Annual Conference related to changing the denominational position relative to homosexual practice.  These results have not been verified. (6-14-2018)

One Church Plan Summary by Way Forward Commissioner Rev. Donna Pritchard.  These images were tweeted by Rev. Jeremy Smith from a presentation to the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. (6-13-2018)

Annual Conferences Mixed on Bishops’ Plan” (UMNS) by Heather Hahn.  A roundup of resolutions and actions taken during the 2018 annual conference season related to the Way Forward process.  (6-15-2018)

South Georgia Annual Conference Resolution Supporting Enforcement of the Present Standards of the Book of Discipline.  This resolution passed 431/179.  (6-10-2018)

Northern Illinois Resolution Supporting Theological Diversity and the One Church Plan.  This passed was approved after a floor debate that seemed to center on whether to wait for a plan for full inclusion to surface.  (June 2018)

Virginia Conference Affirms Unity but not the One Church Plan posted by Robert Stutes on Facebook.  The second largest annual conference in American United Methodism affirms a unity statement, but a resolution endorsing the One Church Plan fails. (6-17-2018)

How Much Diversity Can Unity Tolerate?  The United Methodist Church Will Soon Out” by Allen Bevere.  The author argues that the fact a special General Conference is being called is ample evidence that issues of human sexuality involve things essential to our faith.  (6-19-2018)

2019 General Conference May Face Constitutional Challenges” by Dr. Ted Campbell.  A Methodist historian reflects on “Constitutional Methodism in Crisis” by Lawrence and Askew and the specter of GC2019 not producing any solution.  (6-20-2018)

When Unity at All Costs is Too Costly” by Paul Lawler.  An Independence Day message for UM pastors related to the Way Forward issues. (07-04-2018)

Can a (Different) Book Help the Church Stay Together?” by Dr. David Scott of GBGM.  Dr. Scott offers an alternative to The Anatomy of Peace as a guide to United Methodist unity: Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press, 2013).  (Added 7-7-2018)

Uh… Did I Miss Something?” by Chappel Temple.  The Way Forward report is delayed (due to incomplete translation work) and Chap argues that it should have been done by now. (Added 7-9-2018)

Commission on a Way Forward Final Report Being Translated” UMNS.  The new anticipated date is July 30.  (Added 7-9-2018)

Failure of Leadership” by Rob Renfroe.  The President of Good News responds to the Council of Bishops’ recommendation. (written 7-10-2018)

Declaratory Decision sought 7-12-2018” COB Press Release.  One Commission member told me that the One Church Plan is most in question because it delegates General Conference powers to the annual conferences. (Added 7-12-2018)

GC Delegates Discuss Way Forward” by Heather Hahn via UMNS.  Report of an invitation-only delegate meeting called by Lonnie Chafin and attended by 55 delegates.  You can also find a critique of this meeting by a traditionalist attendee.  (Added 7-18-2018)

Uniting Methodists get Strategic” by Sam Hodges in UMNS.  A report from the Uniting Methodist July gathering in Dallas.  (Added 7-20-2018)

Official Way Forward Resources

The Official Website for the Commission on a Way Forward

The commission has a rather light web presence.  This might be due to the fact that their meeting are closed and they ultimately report to the Council of Bishops, not the entire UMC.

Status Updates from the Moderators

The three bishops that moderate the Commission on a Way Forward offer periodic status updates that can be found here:

List of Commissioners

Meet the 32 members of The Commission on a Way Forward

The Official Council of Bishops Guidebook for the Way Forward Process

The Council of Bishops released the handbook prepared to help guide them through the Way Forward Process.  It is called Finding a Way Forward:  Resources for Witness, Contextual Leadership, and Unity.  You can access it as a PDF file here.

The Commission’s Facebook Page and Twitter Feed

The Commission’s Facebook Page is current followed by over 5,000 people.  It’s Twitter feed has over 500 followers.

UMNS Coverage of the Commission on a Way Forward

The Council of Bishops’ Three Possible Models

There are three models being outlined by the Commission on a Way Forward for the Council of Bishops to consider.  The Council of Bishops is taking a more active lead and will be the body putting forth recommendations to General Conference 2019 in St. Louis.  (November 9, 2017 by UMNS)

Major Update Following the February 2018 Council of Bishops Meeting

At the February 2018 Council of Bishops meeting, only two of the three models were seriously studied.  This is the report coming from that meeting.

Arkansas Conference’s Study of the Way Forward Options

Mission Ecclesiology: Engaging the Commission on a Way Forward in Mission” by Dr. David Scott.  The Director of Mission Theology for GBGM shares the information he provided to the Commission on a Way Forward to help guide their work.  (Added 8-2-2018)

Video Resources 2018 (Added 7-24-2018):

  • Commission on A Way Forward Moderators Overview: Bishops Sandra Steiner Ball, David Yemba and Ken Carter share an overview of their role as moderators for the Commission and how service was one of their primary focus. (Length 5:35).
    You Tube: https://youtu.be/5tOGnPrLqKg
  • Dave Nuckols (laity, Minnesota) and Helen Cunanan (clergy, Philippines) – have a conversation about the Commission on A Way Forward sharing their experiences from very different places in the world. (Length 7:50).
    YouTube: https://youtu.be/pJCPnFqQgUU
  • Bishops Gregory Palmer and Robert Schnase, who are members of the Commission, talk about how the work of the Commission points to the larger mission of The United Methodist Church. (Length 5:35). YouTube: https://youtu.be/52EVb7wuva8
  • Patricia Miller, Executive Director of the Confessing Movement, and Matt Berryman, former Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries Network, talk about their friendship and their experiences serving together on the Commission. (Length 7:55) YouTube:: https://youtu.be/xbR96EBl5Qk 
  • Commission members Mazvita Machinga (laity, Zimbabwe East Conference), David Field (laity, Swiss Conference), and Myungrae Kim Lee (laity, New York Conference), share their thoughts about the work of the Commission. (Length 10:56) YouTube: https://youtu.be/rfL-en8wnho
  • A Parable for Today is a video featuring Commission consultant, Gil Rendle. Gil shares a story that illustrates the difference between positions and interests. When we are able to move from holding onto our positions to seeking to understand each other’s underlying interests, we are better able to move forward together. (Length 5:14). YouTube: https://youtu.be/D8ZGS6Dpl9g
  • Gil Rendle gives an overview of the Purpose, Principles and Importance of the work of the Commission. This video was recorded during the final Commission meeting in May 2018. The video gives an in-depth theological and technical overview of the work done by the Commission that helps to frame the task given to the delegates to the February 2019 General Conference. (Length 54:18).
    YouTube: https://youtu.be/j9sDqunec2o
  • Bishop Grant Hagiya, a member of the Commission, shares reflections on the book Anatomy of Peace. Bishop Hagiya explains why the principles of this book can help us make a fundamental shift to allowing spaces where people can have open and honest dialogue with one another. (Length 5:44) YouTube: https://youtu.be/6trW2HJuwP8
  • Commission members Donna Pritchard (clergy, Oregon-Idaho Conference), Tom Salsgiver (clergy, Susquehanna Conference) and Leah Taylor (laity, Texas Conference) share reflections on their work, the value of connection, and the relationships they formed during their time together as members on the Commission. (Length 7:02) YouTube: https://youtu.be/v15xKo_URFU
  • Jasmine Smothers, Julie Hager Love and Tom Berlin are Commission members who are also clergy serving in the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ). In this interview, they reflect on their experience and their hopes for the future of the United Methodist Church. (Length 5:46). YouTube: https://youtu.be/85KP5qxfCpA

Books

Abingdon Press is in the process of releasing a suite of ten resources under the heading  Faultlines:  Holy Conversations about Human Sexuality.  The link here takes you to a PDF summary of the books which are written from various perspectives.  These resources can be ordered here.

Holy Contradictions: What’s Next for the People Called United Methodists? (February 2018) Essayists include Scott Kisker, Jim and Jennifer Cowart, Rob Fuquay, Jay Williams, Kim Reisman, Bryan Collier, Audrey Warren, Phil Wogaman, Eduard Khegay, Magrey deVega, Tom Lambrecht, Laceye Warner, Donna Pritchard, David Field, and Diane Kenaston.  Edited by Brian Milford.

The Marks of Hope:  Where the Spirit is Moving in a Wounded Church (March 2018) by Matt Rawle;

Living Faithfully:  Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church, a Four-Week Study (August 2017) by David L. Barnhart, Jr., Rebekah Jordan, Alex Joyner, and Jill M. Johnson.

The Fight for Marriage:  Church Conflicts and Courtroom Contests (April 2018) by Phillip F. Cramer and Willam L. Harbison.

Our Strangely Warmed Hearts:  Coming Out into God’s Call (April 2018) by Karen P. Oliveto.

The 19:  Questions to Kindle a Wesleyan Spirit (May 2018) by Carolyn Moore.

Our Purpose is Love: The Wesleyan Way to Be the Church (May 2018) by David N. Field.

A New Church and a New Seminary: Theological Education is the Solution (May 2018) by David McAllister-Wilson.

The Arbinger Institute. (2006) The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. Oakland, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

This book has been studied by the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops as a model for addressing conflict.  It does not address the United Methodist Church or our divisions directly, but is often quoted and put forth as a recommended resource.  Having inner clarity and peace (a “heart of peace”) is offered as a key to resolving conflict.  A summary can be found here.

Booth, Karen (2012)Forgetting How to Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution.  Franklin, Tennessee: Bristol House.

I have not read this one, but the book is reviewed as very well researched.  A description by the publisher:  “Tracing the historical, scientific, political, religious and cultural trends in relation to the sexual revolution, Karen Booth exposes many assumptions, alliances and errors that are rarely considered in the public dialogues and debates over the church’s stance on homosexuality.”

Cantrell, Wil. (2017) Unafraid and Unashamed: Facing the Future of United Methodism.  Knoxville, Tennessee: Market Square Publishing.

Rev. Wil Cantrell is a two-time General Conference delegate from the Holston Conference and a member of the executive committee of the World Methodist Council.  His book is a call to humility, understanding, and centrism.  It is an accessible, 145 page, work that attempts to describe the impasse we face and offer a “maybe none of us have all the answers” sort of approach.

Field, David N. (2017) Bid Our Jarring Conflicts Cease: A Wesleyan Theology and Praxis of Church Unity. Nashville, Tennesee: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

David Field, Academic Coordinator for the Methodist e-Academy and lay member of the UMC in Switzerland, offers a theological basis for Methodist unity based on John Wesley’s emphases on inner holiness, the catholic spirit, and cautions against bigotry.  This book has been recommended by the Uniting Methodist movement and is written from a progressive compatibilist perspective.

Greenway, Jeff, Pirona, Carlos, Ritter, Chris, Moore, Carolyn, Dunnam, Maxie, Forrest, Andrew, Reisman, Kimberly, and Boyette, Keith. (2017) A Firm Foundation: Hope and Vision for a New Methodist Future. Franklin, Tennessee: Seedbed.

The Wesleyan Covenant Association published this seven-chapter book as a study guide for United Methodists seeking to understand the issues that give rise to the work of the Way Forward Commission.  WCA is a membership-based renewal organization that began in 2016.  Rather than talking about homosexuality, the book lifts up a vision for a new Methodism that is faithful to the old.  Topics discussed are the Lordship of Jesus, The Authority of Scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit, personal holiness, intentional discipleship, and global mission.  There is an accompanying DVD that features discussion sessions hosted by Rev. Jessica LaGrone, a members of the Commission on a Way Forward.

Higher Education and Ministry (2017) Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness. Nashville, Tennessee: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

This 572-page book grew out of a March 2017 Theological Colloquy held at Candler School of Theology and sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  The content of the colloquy can also be found free online.  I speculate that the tone of the colloquy turned out to be less hopeful about unity than it was envisioned to be by the planners.  One headline was Dr. William Abraham’s paper called “In Defense of Mexit: Disagreement and Disunity in United Methodism.”  The 104 page study guide is conciliatory in tone and is designed for local church use.  It is available as a free pdf here.  The moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward recently mailed the study guide to every General Conference delegate.

Heidinger, James V. (2017) The Rise of Theological Liberalism and the Decline of American Methodism. Franklin, Tennessee: Seedbed.

This sizable book traces the development of theological liberalism within United Methodism and is predecessor bodies.  It is a “how did we get here?’ sort of book with a clear ideological perspective.  Dr. James V. Heidinger II served as president and publisher of Good News, an evangelical renewal ministry within the United Methodist Church, from 1981 to 2009.

Lawrence, William B. (2018) A Methodist Requiem: Word of Hope and Resurrection for the Church. Nashville, Tennessee:  General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

This 2018 release laments the current state of affairs while it attempts to describe what a United Methodist break-up might entail.  The author, a professor of American Church History at Perkins School of Theology, reaches back to the split of 1844 for context.  Details about how a split might affect church-related institutions is discussed, as is the trust clause.  AMethodist Requiem is written from generally a progressive compatibilist point of view.

Online Interpretive Resources

GetReligion Podcast on the UMC Crisis

GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly discusses “Life post Sexual Revolution: Trying to keep the ‘united’ in United Methodists.” (March 23, 2018)

The “Sugar Packets” Talk

Rev. Tom Berlin of Floris UMC in Virginia has been asked to give his famous sugar packet presentation in several different venues.  It explains divisions in the U.S. in terms of four categories: progressive incompatibilists, progress compatibilists, traditionalist compatibilists, and traditional incompatibilists.  (May 12, 2017)

The Birth Pangs of United Methodism as a Unique, Global, Orthodox Denomination

Dr. Billy Abraham, Albert Cook Outler Chair of Methodist Studies at Perkins School of Theology, offers his hope that the United Methodist Church will move in the direction of classic Christian orthodoxy. (August 2016)

The “Wicked Problem” of The United Methodist Church: Points to Ponder for a Church in Crisis

Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, pastor emeritus of Peoria First United Methodist Church and retired Navy chaplain, offers his insights into the complex nature of our United Methodist dilemma. (9/20/2016)

A Divided United Methodist Church: How We’ll Fail at the Main Thing

James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, makes his appeal for UM unity. (11/27/2016)

The Big Sort

The impact of United Methodist schism on U.S. annual conferences is discussed. (12/20/2017)

The UMC’s Messy Language About Human Sexuality

A brief history of the UMC’s debate over homosexuality by Chris Ritter. (4/21/2016)

Schism Map 2.0

This post maps the U.S. annual conferences that have officially taken a position of defiance to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. (7/13/2017)

United Methodist Future(s)

Chris Ritter describes the United Methodist Church as a flotilla of associated conferences, councils, and general agencies and discusses what this might mean if we chart separate courses. (9/6/2016)

Exit Ramps on the Way Forward

From February 2018, this is a discussion of the possible shape of the “exit ramps” promised by the Commission on a Way Forward and their implications for the UMC. (2/13/2018)

The Death of Homogenized United Methodism

This is a Circuit Rider Magazine piece by Chris Ritter in which he breaks down the reasons why our homogenized structure no longer fits our current reality. (4/1/2016)

Tom Lambrecht’s Blog

Tom is a member of the Way Forward Commission and vice president of Good News.   He writes insightfully about the issues under discussion.

“The Politics of The United Methodist Church”

Indiana pastor, A.W. Collins explains the proportionality of the left, right, and center in the present UMC debates.

David Scott’s GBGM Blog

David Scott is the Director of Mission Theology at the General Board of Global Ministries and often offers helpful perspectives on the Way Forward.  See especially:

Fifty-Five Futures for the UMC (11/21/2017)

Recommended Reading: A Hybrid Way Forward (1/16/2018)

Unity and the Modern Denomination (11/28/2017)

Are There Too Few Mainline Denominations” by David Scott.  The Director of Mission Theology for the General Board of Global Ministries asks if diversifying denominational structures might be a good thing.  (Added 7-27-2018)

Others

Constitutional Methodism in Crisis” (Volume 10, May 2018) by William Lawrence and Sally Curtis AsKew in The Methodist Review.  A scholarly and lengthy study of the interplay of the constitutional powers of the UMC as related to the human sexuality issue.   The link is a PDF.

Let’s Make a Deal, #UMC Style” (11/14/2018) by Dr. David Watson, Academic Dean of United Theological Seminary.  He reviews the three models offered by the Way Forward Commission.

A Milepost on the Way Forward” (11/11/2017) Reflections on the November 2017 Status Update for the Commission.

Brown Sugar: Walling Out the Global South” (5/18/2017) by Chris Ritter.  This post explores how many otherwise inclusive folks want to nevertheless exclude the global church from decisions affecting the U.S.

Why is Schism Such a Dirty Word?” (4/26/2017) by Shane Raynor.  Borrowing a concept from the business world, Raynor suggests we may “spin off” a new type of Methodism that would allow us each group to better operate with a common mission.

UMC Unity: The Oliveto Effect”  (7/25/2016) by Dr. Chris Ritter.  How the presence of Bishop Oliveto complicates efforts at church unity.

Uniting Methodists and Diocesan Methodism” (10/23/2017)  Bishop Scott Jones reflects on proposals by the Uniting Methodists group.

Lonnie Brooks analyses the Way Forward options.  An experienced conference lay leaders from Alaska, Lonnie Brooks offers his analysis of the three Way Forward models.  This link will take you to his various blogs on UM Insight.

The Missional Split of 1844.”  (3/28/2014 by Dr. Chris Ritter.   A brief history of the last large-scale Methodism schism.

UMC Separation Calmly Considered” (2/18/18) by Dr. Ted Campbell, Professor of Church History at Perkins School of Theology.  Campbell argues that other factors besides human sexuality may come into play in a United Methodist separation.

Barbarians to Bureaucrats:  Why the UMC Needs Its Own Donald Trump” (1/9/2018) by Rev. Christy Thomas, blogger and retired clergy from Texas.  This provocative piece makes the case that the UMC as an institution does not serve its constituents well and needs disruption.

Alaska Conference Lay Leader Lonnie Brooks argues that ecclesial charges against Attorney General Sessions “has the potential to guarantee the failure of General Conference 2019.”  From Facebook (6-20-2018) Also, see this from the Religion News Service. (6-22-2018)

The Americans Know this Will End in Schism” by N.T. Wright.  The Bishop of Durham’s 2009 response to the election of Gene Robinson to the episcopacy in The Episcopal Church.  Offered as a summary of traditionalist arguments on the issue of human sexuality.  (Added 7-12-2018)

The Past and Future of the United Methodist Church, with Professor Ted Campbell” in The Plain Truth: A Holy Spirited Podcast.  “Methonerd Heaven” is reached as academics discuss what went wrong in the development of The United Methodist Church.  The Connectional Conference Way Forward Plan is also discussed.  (added 7-16-2018)

The EUB Methodist Merger and the Way Forward” by Riley Case.  This analysis of the Way Forward in light of the 1968 merger appeared on The Confessing Movement Facebook page in January 2018.  (Added 7-27-2018)

Glide Church and the Way Forward” by Riley Case.  This analysis of the situation with Glide Memorial and the UMC was offered on The Confessing Movement Facebook page on July 9, 2018.  (Added 7-27-2018)

Brief Emotional Video shared by First United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California on the Way Forward.  (Added 8-3-2018)

Adam Hamilton:  Liberal United Methodists Have a ‘High View’ of Scripture, Too” by Dan Moran.  Hamilton’s talk at the Uniting Conference is critiqued as dismissive of scriptures we, in our culture and experience, find problematic.  (Added 8-11-2018)

The #UMC: A Time to Love” by Ken Loyer.  Wesleyan Way shares this challenge to use our doctrinal heritage as we discern a Way Forward in love.  (Added 8-13-2018)

Splitting the Church is Just ‘Tacky’” by Kenneth Carder.  A retired bishop acknowledges the institution must change, but argues against a traditionalist/progressive split. (Added 7-15-2018)

The Hopefulness of Mission, or Why I am Not Worried about the Future of the UMC” by Lisa Beth White.  The Founder of Sister of Hope Ministries shares her confidence that mission will continue no matter what happens to the UMC.  “I choose to live in a posture of hope because the mission work of everyday United Methodists reveals the ongoing call of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in love.”  (Added 8-18-2018)

 Global Perspectives

Whither the Central Conferences in a Loosened Connection?, Part One & Part Two by Dr. David Scott of the General Board of Global Ministries

Why Africans will Determine the Outcome of General Conference [2019] by Dr. David Scott of the General Board of Global Ministries

The Global Nature of the United Methodist Church by Rev. Jerry Kulah of the Liberia Annual Conference.  This is from 2008, but it represents the thinking of many African delegates to General Conference.  Also see his address to General Conference 2016.

Elaine Robertson:  #MyHope4Methodism” posted on UM & Global.  Professor of Methodist Studies and Christian Theology at St. Paul’s School of Theology speak of the current United Methodist impasse in the context of Global Christianity & Methodism.  (Added 7-14-2018)

UMC Challenges:  Geography, Finances, Theology” by Mark Holland.  The Executive Director of Mainstream UMC explains why Africans participation is problematic in The United Methodist Church.  See also this PDF Version.  From February 2017 (Added 7-23-2019)

What are United Methodist views on Homosexuality in the Philippines?”  by Dr. David Scott.  The Director of Mission Theology for GBGM reflects on views related to human sexuality in the Philippines.  (Added 8-8-2018)

Filipinos Discuss Way Forward Plans” By Gladys Mangiduyos via UMNS.  A roundup of reactions to the Way Forward Plans from the Philippines.  (Added 7-30-2018)

Korean United Methodists Choose Prayer Over Plans” by Rev. Thomas Kim via UMNS.  Korean United Methodists take their concerns about the Way Forward plans to prayer. (Added 8-11-2018)

Legislative Sketches for General Conference 2019

An “Option One” Accountability Plan (COWF Model One)

Dr. Chris Ritter offers his thoughts on what The Commission on a Way Forward’s “Option One” might look like.  He limits his proposals to things that can be accomplished within our current constitution.

Concerned Alaskans’ Local Option (COWF Model Two)

Concerned Alaskans, a group headed by long-time lay leader Lonnie Brooks, offers legislation that would enact the Local Option.  They attempt to make it palatable by localizing our episcopacy:  “…the election and consecration of Karen Oliveto to the office of Bishop has made the Local Option untenable without [constitutional] change.”  The plan mandates constitutional amendments which require super-majority passage and 2/3 ratification votes around the world.

Hybrid Way Forward Legislation Version 2.2(COWF Model Three)

Dr. Chris Ritter offers a synthesis of the three Way Forward Models to create a structural solution that can be accomplished without amending our constitution.  It probably fits best under Option Three, a multi-branch plan.  It creates affiliated autonomous conferences within the U.S. that remain tied to the UMC through a pre-approved concordat agreement.

Movements and Caucuses

Reconciling Ministries

The largest group dedicated to the full inclusion of LGBTQI persons in The United Methodist Church.  Much of their funding comes from outside the denomination.

The Wesleyan Covenant Association

Launched in October 2016 with around 1800 attendees at an organizational meeting in Chicago, WCA is a membership-based organization dedicated to an orthodox, global direction for the UMC.  They had their second global gathering at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in October 2017 with dozens of live-streaming sites all over the nation.  Over a thousand United Methodist clergy are dues-paying members of WCA.  There are also individual lay members and entire congregations that have joined.

Love Prevails

Love Prevails has vowed to disrupt United Methodist proceedings until their demands of full inclusion for LGBTQI people are met.

UM Action

The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s wing dedicated to influencing The United Methodist Church in a conservative direction.  UMAction has stood opposed to schism and has promoted accountability to the Book of Discipline‘s current language.

Good News

Good News has existed since 1967 as a major renewal group in the UMC.  They publish Good News Magazine which is a primary resource for the evangelical/orthodox perspective within United Methodism.

United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus

From their website: “The United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus (UMQCC) is made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people who are called, commissioned, and ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church.”

The Confessing Movement

A group dedicated to doctrinal renewal within United Methodism.

Uniting Methodists

Some 250 United Methodists gathered in Atlanta in the fall of 2017 to support church unity and a “local option” solution. Some of these participants were part of a previous association called The Centrist Movement, which was based in West Ohio.

Uniting Methodist Conference videos.  These videos are from the July 2018 Gathering of the Uniting Methodist Movement in Dallas which supports passage of the One Church Plan. (Added 7-24-2018)

Methodist Federation for Social Action

MFSA is a voice for progressive action within United Methodism.

Love Your Neighbor Coalition

This is a collection of thirteen member organization that bands together to influence voting at General Conference.  (Its counterpart on the conservative side is called the Renewal and Reform Coalition.)  Members of LYNC include: Affirmation,  Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Fossil Free UMC, MARCHA: Metodistas Asociados Representando la Causa Hispano-Americanos, Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), Methodists in New Directions (MIND), National Federation of Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM), Native American International Caucus (NAIC), Pacific Islanders Caucus of United Methodists (PINCUM), Reconciling Ministries Network, United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities, and Western Methodist Justice Movement (WMJM).  Below is LYNC’s statement for the Commission on a Way Forward on their website.

The Renewal and Reform Coalition

The conservative counterpart to the progressive Love Your Neighbor Coalition (see above) is The Renewal and Reform Coalition.  Like LYNC, this group bands together to influence voting at General Conference.  Member organizations include: The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, RENEW, Transforming Congregations, and UM Action.

A Round-up of Statements solicited from Caucus Groups

The Commission on a Way Forward solicited input from various caucus groups.  This news story shares some of those.

Mainstream UMC – Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, a General Conference delegate from the Great Plains Conference, is taking a year’s sabbatical dedicated to promoting the One Church Plan.  This is the website for his organization.  (Added 7-17-2018)

Mainstream UMC Vision and Fundraising Document”   How a new organization wants to organize and raise $250,000 to combat the Wesleyan Covenant Association and other traditionalist groups at General Conference 2019.  (Added 7-20-2018)

Older Legislative Proposals (for General Conference 2016)

Adam Hamilton’s A Way Forward

Adam Hamilton introduced the Local Option and invited people to sign on.  Many did.

The Connectional Table Plan

The Covenantal Unity Plan

David Watson and Bill Arnold put forth a plan for unity through accountability.  It gains quite a bit of traction, but the Way Forward Process tabled further discussion.  The website for this plan is down, but here is a post I wrote that describes it.

The Love Alike Plan

This was a plan Chris Ritter wrote just before General Conference 2016 that provided a structural solution without amendments.  The election of Bishop Oliveto made this unworkable in the author’s opinion.

The Two Jurisdictional Solution

Chris Ritter’s first plan to sort the U.S. church into two new jurisdictions.

The Progressive Jurisdictional Solution

A second version of the Jurisdictional Solution that keeps the current five jurisdiction but adds a sixth one for those who want their own rules on human sexuality.

The Organic Jurisdictional Solution

Another Jurisdictional Solution that allows for a gradual sorting of annual conferences into different ministry rules.

 

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