Judicial Council Decision 1360 and The Way Forward
My response, today and on behalf of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, to Judicial Council Decision 1360: The statement expresses gratitude for the Judicial Council’s work and our continuing commitment to serve and lead our church. I have added an additional word about purpose.
We want to thank the Judicial Council for their service to the church through the affirmation of two key principles—the specific nature of the call for the special session, to receive and act on the report of the Council of Bishops based upon the work of the Commission on a Way Forward; and the General Conference’s authority to decide on what is in harmony with the call.
Our motivation in making the request for the Declaratory Decision is in recognition of the historic nature of the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019, the need for focus on the stated purpose during these three days, and to create an orderly environment without distraction and chaos, so that the delegates can do their best work.
I am grateful for Bishop Bruce Ough, who spoke on behalf of the Council’s petition for a Declaratory Decision. This was an appropriate exercise of service to the church (Book of Discipline, 414, 415), as we have responded to the request for leadership from the 2016 General Conference. We will continue to serve our beloved denomination under the guidance of the decision and in consultation with the Commission on the General Conference.
The motivation of the bishops in seeking clarity about what will be before the 2019 Special Session has always been grounded in the desire to create “an orderly environment without distraction and chaos so that the delegates can do their best work.” In this regard, our work, which is very much the appropriate responsibility given to us by the church, has been mischaracterized by some in the media. We hope to avoid a scenario where there are many hundreds or even thousands of petitions that come before the delegations, with only three days to process them. Allowing petitions from all simply requires the church to manage the process with as much efficiency, patience and grace as possible. All of this is for a greater purpose: to find a way forward for The United Methodist Church, so that God can continue to use us in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church