Way Forward gets input on church future

The feedback to the Commission on a Way Forward gives a sense of the task ahead.

The commission asked various United Methodists to describe their constituency’s “preferred future for our denomination regarding the nature, conditions and extent of the inclusion of LGBTQ people within the church.”

The 32-member commission will sift through the responses when it meets starting July 19 through July 21. The group’s fourth meeting is closed to the public and takes place at an undisclosed location in the Chicago area.

General Conference in 2016 authorized the bishops to form the commission with the goal of finding “new forms and structures” that would allow unity in a church deeply divided over homosexuality. The commission is charged with completing an “examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.”

Among those asked for feedback were unofficial advocacy groups and the 13 general church agencies as well as various local church pastors, lay leaders and seminary students. The commission sent out questionnaires and in some cases held focus groups. Each central conference — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — decided its own process for gathering input.

The responses that groups released publicly or shared with United Methodist News Service show the different visions members have for the church they love.

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