A Statement from Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi

1/3/2020

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  ---- John 17:21

 As one of our pastors has often said to me, “Bishop, sometimes unity takes on different forms.”  And sometimes to reach unity it takes time, repeated failures, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, extended conversation, and persistence.  A truly diverse group of United Methodists has reached unity. 
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi
      
After the 2019 Special Called Session of the General Conference, Bishop John Yambasu of the Sierra Leone Episcopal Area felt a wrestling from God.  God was calling him, he said, to bring United Methodists together for conversation.  Bishop Yambasu admitted that he initially resisted this prompting from God, but God would not let him rest, persistently waking him up at night.  Reluctantly, but obediently, Bishop Yambasu contacted some United Methodists who he knew had different perspectives on a way forward for the church and asked them if they would be willing to have conversation.  They all agreed.

This group included leadership from the Wesley Covenant Association, Reconciling Ministries Network, and more centrist movements.  Bishop Yambasu also asked one of his bishop colleagues from each of the central conferences and five bishops from the U.S. Jurisdictions to join the conversation. The group enlisted the help of a mediator, who is a person of faith, but who had no allegiance to United Methodism or any of the mainline Christian denominations. 

In assembling these persons together, Bishop Yambasu was clear that he wanted them to work toward reconciliation and the unity of the church.  No one wanted a repeat of the vitriol and poor Christian witness that we as United Methodists from all perspectives demonstrated toward one another during the Special Called Session. 
           
After meeting several times since February 2019, the group came to an agreement about a way, or protocol, for reconciliation.  Together they developed a document entitled “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation”. This document is not the work of the Council of Bishops or the Commission on a Way Forward.  It is the work of this mediation group. The members of the group are working on legislation to be presented at General Conference.  This diverse group has agreed to urge their constituents to withdraw all other legislation that has been developed pertaining to homosexuality and to support legislation around this protocol, which has yet to be developed.

I urge all United Methodists in Western Pennsylvania to read the document with a prayerful spirit. We will offer opportunities for you to ask questions about the document and will provide as many answers as we can. I call on your gracious understanding of the fact that the Council of Bishops did not author or provide input into the document, so there may be some questions that neither I nor members of our delegation will be able to answer.

As with any mediation process, I am sure there are aspects of this document with which we all can find fault.  There are some aspects of the protocol that are not my preference.  However, this document does provide, for me, a real hope that we can, through mutual respect for our diversity, find a way toward reconciliation so that we can move forward and focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ so that the world might be transformed. 

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