United Methodist Church’s Future Under Negotiation Ahead of 2020 General Conference

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A small group of United Methodist bishops and U.S. traditionalists, centrists and progressives met this week as part of negotiations about the denomination’s future.

The Dec. 16-17 meeting in Washington was an outgrowth of discussions that Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu initiated in July to find consensus on any potential church separation ahead of the 2020 General Conference. Participants, who represent varied perspectives on LGBTQ inclusion, agreed to confidentiality while their delicate conversations proceed.

Although they offered few details on the closed-door session, group members struck an optimistic note at the meeting’s conclusion.

“We have completed two days of additional meetings which have been very productive,” the group said in a joint statement. “We are hopeful and prayerful about the direction of these conversations.”

Anything the group recommends will need the approval of General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body.

However, the hope is that these meetings will help lead to a less rancorous gathering than the church experienced at the special General Conference in February. By about a 53% vote, the multinational delegates approved legislation that strengthens church prohibitions against same-sex weddings and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy.

In the months since, some United Methodists have supported the outcome while others have launched plans to resist. Meanwhile, the drumbeat to divide the church along theological lines has only grown louder. The next General Conference will meet May 5-15 in Minneapolis.

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Source: United Methodist News