The United Methodist Council of Bishops capped an exhausting week of work by voting to submit all three recommendations from the Way Forward Commission to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 and supporting the One Church model. King Solomon may have cried; they very nearly split the baby in half.
That said, I personally will give them an “A” for moving anything forward considering the yawning chasm separating different constituencies in the global church. I appreciated how Bishop Ough addressed the issue of majority vs. consensus in the press conference. He said, “Typically when I’ve worked with consensus, you arrive at a place where everybody says I can stand here, if you use that definition, it’s fair to say we don’t have consensus. But it is fair to say we have strong affirmation.”
What that means to me is there is no scenario where individuals, churches, maybe even annual conferences do not leave the connection. Given that painful reality, a majority of Bishops agreed to the One Church Plan knowing it may cause a fracture in the denomination. That is courageous leadership. Weak leadership would have been, push all three forward to General Conference without a recommendation and essentially pass the buck.
I also think moving all three forward to General Conference may have simply been a collegial gesture among the Bishops as a show of respect for those who disagree. No one told me that. Mercy, no one told me anything! I have never seen a group of Bishops so tight lipped in my life…especially after I mentioned my blog…
I generally support the concept of the One Church plan. Naturally, like everyone, I want to see how many asterisks are in it before committing to it. The question for all of us who are General Conference Delegates will be, Do we trust the two-year long discernment process of the Way Forward Commission and the Bishops? Or, do we think we can grind out a tastier sausage on the floor of General Conference? Having been to five General Conferences, I am skeptical of the latter.
Here are some news pieces from today:
Video of press conference. I could not get WordPress to upload it, so I had to put it on my personal Facebook page. If you are unable to view it, I will be glad to be your friend! Even if it is just a superficial internet friend so you can see the video. In other words, I will feel no obligation to post something on your birthday. Nor, should you feel compelled to post on my birthday, but if you do, it is this Sunday!
A good article about the process by Heather Hahn of UM News Service.
The Official Bishops’ Press Release.