A Way Forward Task Force
As our denomination moved toward a February 23-26, 2019 special session of the General Conference called by the Council of Bishops to act on a report from the 32-member Commission on a Way Forward, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi established a Way Forward Task Force in Western PA. Like the Commission on A Way Forward, the task force includes laity and clergy with a wide range of theological perspectives. The Task Force's role was to provide opportunities for Western PA United Methodists to hear accurate information about the Commission on a Way Forward's proposals to address the impasse over human sexuality. Additionally, it was tasked with providing opportunities for clergy and laity and to express their thoughts, hopes, dreams and concerns about the Council of Bishops' recommendation of the One-Church Model.
The Commission on A Way Forward was authorized by General Conference 2016 and its members were appointed by the Council of Bishops to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality, propose possible revisions, and explore options to strengthen the unity of the church. Its report to the General Conference, issued July 31, 2018, is posted in English here.
The Council of Bishops then asked the United Methodist Judicial Council to rule on the constitutionality of the three plans submitted by the Commission. The Judicial Council held hearings and issued its ruling on Oct. 26, 2018. See decision.
The WPAUMC Way Forward Task Force held 20 “Listening Post” events (two in each of our 10 Districts) between August 20 and December 2, 2018 to allow clergy and laity to meet in person and engage in facilitated, small group discussions around specific questions related to the three plans submitted by the Way Forward Commission. Many attended the events, intended to provide a non-threatening environment to facilitate understanding rather than debate. A wide range of opinions were expressed.
The WPAUMC Task Force's report was issued January 29, 2019.
General Conference Debriefing Sessions
Following the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, where delegates by slim margin rejected the One Church Plan and instead approved petitions contained in what was called The Traditional Plan, Bishop Moore-Koikoi, members of the General Conference delegation, and The Way Forward Task force held debriefing sessions in each of the 10 districts for clergy and laity to hear what happened and ask questions. Here is a video from one of the session at Edinboro UMC in the Erie-Meadville District.