Commonly Asked Questions
- What is the Commission on the Way Forward? – The 32-member commission is accountable to the Council of Bishops, which named the members following a mandate from the 2016 General Conference and is charged by the General Conference with developing proposals for the bishops to find a way forward and for unity in the UMC on issues related to human sexuality. The Commission includes two leaders of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as well as at least three openly gay members. All told, the commission includes eight bishops, 11 laity, 11 elders and two deacons from nine countries. California-Pacific Conference Resident Bishop Grant J. Hagiya is a member of this Commission.
- What led to its creation? – At the 2016 General Conference (Portland, OR), a vote of 428 to 405 was taken to suspend debate and defer decisions on human sexuality, following the recommendation of the Council of Bishops, to a Commission on the Way Forward which would develop specific proposals to the Council of Bishops.
- What has the Commission accomplished so far? – The Commission issued a status report in July 2017 that has summarized their method of working and their conclusions thus far. The report includes their hopes for a “looser” church structure, a “tighter” essential theology and doctrine, and a “thinner” Book of Discipline.
- What is the Called Special Session in 2019? – A report by the Council of Bishops based on the proposals of the Commission on the Way Forward will be given and voted upon by a specially called session of General Conference to be held from February 23 thru 26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Commission on General Conference, which plans the lawmaking assemblies, has set the delegate number at 864 — about 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines, Europe and Eurasia as well as 10 from “concordat” churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.
Prayer for the Way Forward
The Council also named a parallel prayer initiative named “Praying our Way Forward.” This initiative assigns a week of prayer for every Conference in The United Methodist Church. The dates assigned to the California-Pacific Conference for prayer for the work of the Commission are August 27 thru September 2, 2017.
Our California-Pacifiic Conference Resident Bishop Grant J. Hagiya calls us to pray for specific areas of ministry each day…
As I have been working on the Commission on the Way Forward, it has become increasing clear to me that all of our projections and planning, while important, cannot cover all the complexities of our church life. What I mean by this is that we cannot see everything and represent every position in the breadth of our church. Only God sees from that complete and whole perspective, and as much as we try to be in deep communion with God on the Commission, as human servants we come up short.
The only way we are going to positively move forward on this impasse over human sexuality is to turn to God, fall on our knees in humble confession, and ask for God’s direction and wisdom. This is the very reason our prayers are so important for the Commission’s work. I am convinced that as a member of the Commission, the most important thing for me to do is to pray. It is more important than my study, thinking, and strategizing for the Commission’s work. I need to simply pray!
I am asking you to join me in the most important thing that we can do for our church. It is now time for all of us to turn to God, and not rely on ourselves to come up with a way forward. God has a way for us, and if we are faithful in prayer, we may find it.
Please join me in prayer for our United Methodist Church:
- 27 – The whole United Methodist Church
- 28 – The Commission on the Way Forward
- 29 – The Council of Bishops
- 30 – The 2019 General Conference Special Called Session
- 31 – The Lay People of The UMC
- 1 – The Clergy of The UMC
- 2 – The Way Forward Conversation in Cal-Pac
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya