Dunwoody UMC has a long history of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are one congregation of a larger denomination of United Methodists. United Methodists are spread throughout the world and are connected by missions, traditions, Wesleyan theology and heritage and covenant. However, over the past several years, the denomination’s covenantal relationship has become more and more fractured over intense disagreement surrounding human sexuality, marriage and ordination of clergy.
According to the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, the official stance of the Church affirms that Scripture teaches all people are of sacred worth and are welcomed in our church; that sexuality is a gift from God to be practiced exclusively between a man and a woman within the bounds of a monogamous marriage; and that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Officially, this has been the stance of the Church for more than 45 years, although it has been debated and discussed at every General Conference since being included.
More recently, out of deep conviction and theological differences, some within our denomination have questioned this position. Specifically, they have challenged the position of marriage being only between a man and a woman, and the prohibition against ordaining those who are self-avowed practicing homosexuals. This has brought us to the point of a covenantal crisis.
At the 2016 General Conference, a request was made of the Council of Bishops to work toward finding a way the denomination could move forward together. Subsequently, the Council of Bishops appointed a commission called the Commission on a Way Forward to study the issue and report back to the Council of Bishops with a recommendation on the most constructive way for the Church to move forward.
In 2018, the Commission on a Way Forward reported back to the Council of Bishops with three recommendations, the Traditionalist Plan, the One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan. Each of these three plans, as well as many other plans and revisions will be considered by the General Conference.
The General Conference will be held February 23 – 26, 2019 and delegates from all over the world will gather in St. Louis, MO to deal with these issues of human sexuality. Obviously, decisions made at this General Conference could impact the denomination’s traditional stance on human sexuality, and may impact our organizational structure as well.
This short FAQ was designed to inform you of some of the issues that are being dealt with at the General Conference, and to provide some background. It is in no way intended to be comprehensive, but rather a brief overview.
As the delegates prepare to meet for the 2019 General Conference, I ask you to keep them in your prayers. I also ask that you pray for DUMC as we continue to seek to be a dynamic Christian Community of fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Dan Brown