Traditionalists, bishops talk church future

Traditionalist advocates met in private with United Methodist bishops from Africa, Europe and the Philippines to listen and discuss the denomination’s future — with separation raised as a distinct possibility.

Leaders of the Renewal and Reform Coalition, which includes four U.S.-based advocacy groups, requested the conversation with the central conference bishops while the full Council of Bishops is meeting in a hotel near Chicago. Central conferences are church regions outside the United States.

The groups represented included Good News, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Covenant Association. More than a dozen central conference bishops attended, as did a few U.S. bishops.

Initially, Bishop John K. Yambasu, head of the Africa College of Bishops, told United Methodist News Service the meeting late May 7 would be open to all. But after coalition leaders expressed discomfort with the presence of the press, Yambasu urged the UMNS reporter to wait outside the ballroom.

“I think there is hope. We still can lead in the midst of chaos, and the only way we can do this leading is through ongoing conversation,” Yambasu said after the meeting, which lasted a little over two hours.\\

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