Eight United Methodist bishops are calling for a new form of unity amid differences over human sexuality that seem to be pushing The United Methodist Church toward a split.
Bishops Scott J. Jones, Eduard Khegay, Michael Lowry and Mark J. Webb, along with retired Bishops Lindsey Davis, Alfred W. Gwinn Jr., Robert E. Hayes Jr. and Young Jin Cho, signed a statement and offered it to the church calling for “deeper conversations regarding new expressions of Methodist witness.” They asked United Methodists who agree with the statement to sign it.
“It is time to be honest about our current reality,” reads the statement. “The events since the adjournment of the Special Session of General Conference illustrate how deep our division is. Sadly, even greater discord, chaos and fighting loom on the horizon at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.”
Legislation passed by the 2019 General Conference maintains the church stance, which dates to 1972, that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” That legislation, known as the Traditional Plan, strengthened church bans against ordination of "self-avowed practicing" gay clergy and same-sex unions.
The new legislation goes into effect Jan. 1 in the U.S. and a year after the 2020 General Conference in church regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.
“We need to get out of this win/lose dynamic and get to a point where we look at a new form or organization that has multiple branches or streams,” said Lowry, who leads the Central Texas Conference. “There are differences among the eight of us who signed so I am not speaking for them. I hope for a new form of unity.”
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