A district forum was held in each of the NC Conference’s eight districts in late January and mid-February to present the work of The Commission on A Way Forward, The United Methodist Church task force, working to develop a way forward dealing with questions of mission, church unity and human sexuality.
Bishop Ward, the NC Conference delegation leaders (Gary Locklear and Gray Southern) and other members of NC Conference General Conference delegation, who will be members of the 2019 Called Session of General Conference, were present at each forum.
Bishop Ward began each forum with a service of baptismal renewal. In her sermon, she asked us to remember how to care for each other even if we disagree. Each forum heard a brief summary of what were then the options The Commission on A Way Forward was considering. Since the meeting, the Commission has announced that they have narrowed their options from three to two, allowing that their former first option is contained in both the remaining ones.
After the presentation, there was table discussion in each district and then a short full gathering question-and-answer period. Varied opinions were expressed with respect towards brothers and sisters across the NC Conference. A very strong voice for unity was heard consistently, as well as numerous questions about the process by which the Commission will be making its recommendation to the Council of Bishops. The Council will in turn make a recommendation that General Conference will address.
Both delegates and Bishop Hope highlighted that everyone should remember this is a legislative process and that we have to wait for the process to unfold before we know what the ultimate decision will be.