The United Methodist Church is divided on how to include homosexual persons in the life of our church. New legislation will be presented in 2018 that may have a significant impact on the structure and practice of our denomination. Church leaders need to be making plans now on how to discuss this topic with their congregations.
In May or June of 2018, the Council of Bishops will announce their preferred direction for the church going forward. Our congregants are likely to hear about this statement on the national news. The legislation based on this recommendation will be prepared for the 2019 General Conference in the summer or early fall of 2018. The current situation and the steps up until now are explained in this press release from the Council of Bishops.
The Media Center offers many resources that churches can use to facilitate conversations on this issue. Here are some suggestions:
Unafraid and Unashamed
In Unafraid and Unashamed: Facing the Future of United Methodism, United Methodist Pastor Wil Cantrell offers a balanced opinion of the multiple viewpoints on the issue of homosexuality in the church. He fully explains each perspective and invites readers to consider their own beliefs and what to do if they are in the minority. Rev. Cantrell suggests the following timeline based on his experience working with local churches:
- Winter/Spring 2018: Study with a group of trusted leaders
- Summer/Fall 2018: Offer a class to the whole church
- January/February 2019: Preach from the pulpit
In a free leader’s guide, Rev. Cantrell offers options for using his book in a 4-8 week study, a 3-week study, or one 50-minute session. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the issues facing the church and what it means for them personally.
The United Methodist publisher, Abingdon Press, is releasing a new series of books specifically addressed to this topic in our church. The books cover the range of perspectives on the issue written by leaders in the United Methodist Church.
Ten books will be released over the next several months. Three of these books are designed for group study, although all provide a solid basis for discussion. Two books are currently available and on order for the Media Center:
- Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church (A Four-Week Small Group Study)
- Is It Time? Helping Laity and Clergy Discuss Homosexuality One Question at a Time (12 questions that can be discussed in a group)
The other books in the series will be available in the Media Center as they are published.
Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry published Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness in April of this year. This 4-week study guide is based on the academic research of United Methodist Professor and Pastor Charles M. Wood. The book focuses on the witness of the church in a diversified community and finding a way forward for the United Methodist Church. Leader helps are included.
Finding Our Way
Several United Methodist bishops, including our own Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, authored chapters in Finding Our Way: Love and Law in the United Methodist Church. Each bishop presents a possible way forward for the church on the issue of homosexuality. The book is not designed to be use as a group study, but it provides many ideas for groups to discuss.
The Media Center maintains a Homosexuality Pathfinder that lists all of our resources on the topic of homosexuality. Any of these videos or books may be useful to your church in researching and discussing this issue.
Request These Resources
Would you like to borrow these resources to use at church or at home? We can mail them to you! Simply fill out the Resource Request Form, or contact the Media Center with any questions. The NC Conference Media Center is open to all clergy and laity in the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, free of charge.