Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Florida Conference,
I encourage you to read this status report from the Commission on a Way Forward. I am blessed to serve as one of the moderators of this commission, and Florida is honored that Jorge Acevedo and Alice Williams serve as commission members.
The status report is a rich and creative resource that includes multi-media, with pdf and video links that can be shared through social media, in meetings, worship services and Bible Studies. The report includes substantive resources about a way forward, about our core values and faith statements, and includes a video that draws on the imagery of Jesus' teaching on the vine and the branches in John 15. It bears witness to the scriptures and to our tradition, and is an open communication about both the process of the commission and the content that is informing our work. I remind everyone that we are very early in the process, having not yet completed half of our meeting schedule.
I hope you will take the opportunity to view this report with others in your local church, and that you will share it. Going forward, we are planning a process for our annual conference to do this work in a way that strengthens our life together, and that will begin this fall. It includes a planning team composed of a few members (laity and clergy) of the General Conference delegation, a few members of the Cabinet and a few pastors of local churches. In addition, I hope you will join me in a conversation this fall in Tampa (September 24), Jacksonville (September 25) or Loxahatchie (September 26) as we reflect on how we are "growing in our trust of God.” (Click here for more information about the regional gatherings and conversation.)
The latter phrase is taken from the liturgy of membership (United Methodist Hymnal, 35), a promise that we make to each person who comes into the care of a local church: “We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others."
I am convinced that the connecting link between love and forgiveness, in our relationship with God and each other, and faithfulness service, in our engagement with the world, is trust. I thank you for the trust you have placed in me. I pray that we all serve and lead in the church in ways that move others to place their trust more deeply in the Lord. And if our trust, and trustworthiness grows, so too will our lives of love, forgiveness and faithful service. This will be our way forward: it is to walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2. 5).
Please read, share and engage. Thank you!
May God bless you in these days of summer!
+Ken Carter, Resident Bishop
Florida Conference, United Methodist Church
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Commission on a Way Forward has released a status report to the Council of Bishops and the entire United Methodist Church (UMC), updating the church and the leaders on the faithful work of the Commission after four meetings.
The 32-member commission is accountable to the Council of Bishops, which named the members following a mandate from the 2016 General Conference. The charge from the General Conference was for the bishops to find a way forward and for unity in the UMC on issues related to human sexuality.
In releasing the status report, the Commission moderators Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter said the status report was available in video and PDF form and can be shared electronically, in worship and in print.
“We encourage all United Methodists to view this, to use it in worship. We encourage you to offer us feedback and prayer,” the moderators said.
The Commission has five more meetings to complete, with two of the meetings coming prior to the November meeting of the Council of Bishops.
The final report will be issued to the Council of Bishops, who will then present the report to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference for action.
For more information on the Commission on a Way Forward, visit umc.org/wayforward.
About the Commission on a Way Forward
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to human sexuality and resulting questions about the unity of the church.