A Way Forward At St. Paul's

Getting ready for what The United Methodist Church decides about human sexuality and church policy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

12:00–4:00 p.m.

Heavener Hall

This event is free. 

Please rsvp using the sign-up sheet in the church office or Click Here to use the online rsvp form.

In early May, the Commission on a Way Forward submitted its recommendations to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.  (Scroll down to read more about the decision from the Council of Bishops and work of The Commission on a Way Forward.)  In February 2019, the General Conference of the church will meet in special session to consider these recommendations and make a decision about how The United Methodist Church will structure language in our Book of Disciple and update policies for United Methodist churches.

How do we at St. Paul’s get ready for what the United Methodist Church decides about human sexuality? 

All adults and youth are invited to attend the workshop "A Way Forward at St. Paul's" on Saturday afternoon, May 19. We will learn together, think, and talk together. Along with this food for thought, there will also be food for the tummies. First and last, we will pray together.

Our objective: To explore how our St. Paul’s congregation might address the United Methodist Church’s forthcoming decisions (not yet known) regarding sexual orientation and homosexuality.

What we plan to do at the workshop:

• We will eat lunch.

• We will briefly review what The United Methodist Church is doing about these decisions. 

• Then in small groups and as a whole we will explore questions that are close to home:

  • What do individuals or groups of members at St. Paul’s believe, as Christians and United Methodists, about God, Biblical authority, sin, grace, inherent human worth, church connections, and inclusivity?
  • Among these beliefs, which ones would all of us at St. Paul’s agree on? In other words, what is the shared bedrock of our faith in this congregation?
  • What issues concerning human sexuality and our church might members of St. Paul’s disagree about? Perhaps explicit outreach to the LGBT community? Marriage sacraments performed in our church? The sexual orientation of our ministers?
  • Of the different ways decisions can be made at St. Paul’s, what might be a good way to proceed when choices related to the Way Forward Commission's work may be presented to us over the next year?

Although some individuals may wish to express their own personal opinions about these questions, our emphasis will be on thinking and talking about the life of our congregation. This does not automatically require any one person to expose or advocate what “I think.”

Here are some goals we might accomplish by the end of the workshop:

• A sense of what beliefs unite all of us at St. Paul’s

• A clear-eyed view of what might separate our members on matters of sexuality

• How we at St. Paul's might respond to the results of the greater UMC's 2019 Special Session called to address sexuality and church policy

• A plausible Way Forward at St. Paul’s, whatever the greater church’s decisions

This event is FREE. Please RSVP to attend by signing up in the church office or online using the form available here

If you have questions, comments, or ideas, please contact Bill Butz: william.butz@icloud.com or phone 240-205-0964.

The Commission on a Way Forward

The United Methodist Church

In response to discussions at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, the Council of Bishops created The Commission on a Way Forward. This body of clergy and laity from across the denomination and across the world is charged with a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality. The Commission aims to explore options that could help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church, especially exploring the denomination's stance on homosexuality.

"In less than a year, The United Methodist Church will reach a crucial crossroads in its 50-year history. A special General Conference is scheduled for Feb. 23 to 26, 2019, in St. Louis, Mo., to address one topic: how shall the church respond to questions related to inclusion of LGBTQ people? At its heart, the issue is how or if homosexuals should be allowed in church leadership. As it stands right now – and as it has been officially in the UMC since 1972 – “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve” in the church (2016 Book of Discipline, ¶304.3). In addition, the church prohibits its clergy from conducting same gender weddings (¶2702.b)."

From "UMC Seeks a Way Forward" by Erik Alsgaard, April 6, 2018


News for May 2018

The Commission on a Way Forward presented their final report to the Council of Bishops at their meeting in Chicago, the first week of May. The Commission presented two plans to the Bishops for their consideration: The One Church Plan, and The Connectional Conference Plan. 

Here is an excerpt from Bishop LaTrelle Easterling's statement following the Council of Bishops meeting: 

"The Council overwhelmingly voted to recommend The One Church Plan to the 2019 General Conference. During the Council's discussion, some bishops believed it would be important to include all of the plans that had been considered.... Therefore, the Council's recommendation will include the other two models for informational purposes. The Council believes this will provide a full, transparent representation of The Commission's work, and our deliberations... The recommended plan will now be sent to the February 2019 Special General Conference for consideration."

The One Church Plan (Recommended by the Council of Bishops):

  • Recognizes the diverse theological and scriptural understandings of our global church; 
  • Provides generous unity for conferences, churches, and pastors; 
  • Does not require any annual conference, bishop, congregation, or pastor to act contrary to their convictions; 
  • Maintains the current leadership structure of the denomination as one body; 
  • Removes the restrictive language from our current Book of Discipline.

The Connectional Conference Plan (not recommended by the Council) would have proposed three values-based conferences in place of the current geographic conferences, with working titles of Progressive, Contextual, and Traditional Conferences based on theology and perspective on LGBTQ+ ministry. The Traditional Church Plan (also not recommended by the Council) would have strengthened the language in the current Book of Discipline and streamlined the process for handling violations of the Book of Discipline.


According to the United Methodist News Service, the One-Church proposal "appears to align with centrist models which would see the removal of restrictive language from the Book of Discipline, letting conferences decide how inclusive to be while protecting clergy who could not, as a matter of conscience, perform a same-sex union or support ordination of openly gay clergy.”

For the full statement from the Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, please read more here:


Since January 2017, United Methodist Conferences worldwide have been engaged in "praying our way forward," a vigil of prayer for the Commission's important work. The Baltimore-Washington Conference's designated time of prayer was held in July 2017. Please click here for a personal reflection by St. Paul's member Emily Sama-Miller, and a prayer from our July 23, 2017 worship.