May 4, 2018
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
The Council of Bishops has just concluded our spring meeting. It was bathed in prayer, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and involved caring and honest conversation.
We agreed to release our report to General Conference no later thanJuly 8, 2018
, so that it can be edited and translated into our official languages. The Council of Bishops have adopted the following:
Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the special session of the General Conference in 2019 that includes:
- All three plans (The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan, and The Connectional Conference Plan) for a way forward considered by the Commission and the Council.
- The Council’s recommendation of The One Church Plan.
- An historical narrative of the Council’s discernment process regarding all three plans.
Rationale: In order to invite the church to go deeper into the journey the Council and Commission has been on, the Council makes all the information considered by the Commission and the Council of Bishops available to the delegates of the General Conference and acknowledges there is support for each of the three plans within the Council. The values of our global church are reflected in all three plans. The majority of the Council recommends The One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.
It is critically important to understand that three official actions are included in this one formal motion and rationale.
First, the Council of Bishops is forwarding three complete plans as part of its report to the General Conference: The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan, and the Connectional Conference Plan. This means the General Conference will have all three plans in front of them for consideration and has the right to adopt, reject or amend any of them.
Second, in a series of conversations and polls, the preference of the majority of active bishops on the Council was to recommend one plan to the General Conference and for that recommendation to be The One Church Plan. Not surprisingly, there was significant support for the other two Plans as well.
Third, the Council is going to share the full body of the Commission and Council’s work in order for the delegates to have the resources they need as they decide the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.
Ultimately it is the General Conference – and not the Council of Bishops – that will chart the way forward for our Church next February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis.
Between now and then, I will be working closely with our delegation as they discern where they believe the Holy Spirit is leading the church. I urge you to pray for them, as well as all the delegates of the General Conference, on a daily basis.
We come from a variety of perspectives concerning human sexuality, which means you may be experiencing either hope or pain in light of the Council’s action. That’s why I want to invite you to get in touch with me if you would like to talk.
You may remember I shared a letter with you about a week ago as Karen and I prepared to leave for the Council meeting. As part of that letter, I reminded you that four things remain true regardless of how the Council decided to act: 1) God still is God; 2) People still need Jesus; 3) We still need each other; and 4) God still is not done with us yet. I still believe these things, perhaps even more powerfully than before. After all, our trajectory is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.
I consider it a deep privilege – and also a great joy – to serve as your bishop. Even more importantly, I love you!
Grace and Peace,
Gary E. Mueller