JOIN US EACH SUNDAY for worship @ 9AM via Zoom. Check the post below for more details. Next OUTDOOR worship on Sunday, Sept. 27th at 5PM.

Entering a Time of Discussion and Discernment

The January 13th session has been postponed until February 10th due to weather.

NOTE: Additions will continually be made to this post so that it may be a resource for our members and constituents. This post will contain information from the Council of Bishops, our bishop, Peggy Johnson, as well as other commentaries and relevant materials.   

ANY WHERE YOU SEE A LIGHTHOUSE posted, either electronically or on a bulletin board, please stop and read the information provided.  A lighthouse will be our ongoing symbol to help our members and constituents easily identify materials/announcements that pertain to our discussions regarding the question of LGBT inclusion within the Methodist denomination.

QUESTIONS?  Over the next weeks and months, as we plan and offer a variety of learning opportunities & discussion forums, if you have any question(s) that you would like addressed, please either email it to the church office using the Comment section at the end of this post, or write it out and place it in Janet Dearstyne’s mailbox (A10).  You may add your name to the question(s) or ask anonymously.

PLANNED DISCUSSION/SHARING/LEARNING SESSIONS:

  • Sunday, October 14th from 12:30-2PM
    Conversations from the Heart  – Forum setting in the Youth room or Social Hall, depending upon number of persons in attendance. Pastor Scott will begin with prayer and The Covenant. A sharing of three personal stories/experiences regarding LGBTQ, followed by Q&A for clarifications/comments, etc., then small group break out for discussion of two questions (TBD). Those attending will also be asked to write down any other questions/concerns they may have for following sessions.
  • Sunday, November 11th from 12:30-2PM
    Session #2 ~ Biblical Interpretation will be held on Sunday, November 11th from 12:30-2PM in the Social Hall; Pastor Scott will be the facilitator.
  • Sunday, December 9th – CANCELLED due to member Memorial Service
  • Sunday, January 13th from 12:30-2PM  Session #3 ~ The format will be large group discussion moderated by Rev. Susan Worrell, a U.M. Spiritual Counselor who is very familiar with the LGBT issue in our denomination and will be providing church history and insights for attendees to consider. Several open-ended questions will be presented for discussion. (Rev. Worrell’s biography may be found below.)

The Rev. Susan L. Worrell is a an ordained Deacon and an endorsed Mental Health and Substance Abuse Chaplain in the United Methodist Church, a Spiritual Director, and a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 30 years of experience. She is the founder and director of Hope Christian Counseling, a
non-profit counseling and spiritual direction ministry and she serves on the pastoral staff at the United Methodist Church of the Open Door in Kennett Square. As a clergy person in the UMC she provides leadership in the Eastern PA Conference as the Co-Chair of the Commission on Religion and Race, as Co-Chair of the ICARE Team, the Southeast District Committee on Ministry, and by mentoring candidates for ministry of the ordained deacon. As a spiritual director, counselor, speaker, teacher, mentor, and clergyperson, Rev. Worrell is committed to a ministry of healing and wholeness for all – mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally.

  • Sunday, February 10th from 12:30-2PM (Session #4 or snow date)

TO LISTEN TO AN INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW DIALOG presented by Carol Adams, Lay Leader, and Audrey Kinsel, Lay Delegate to Annual Conference, on the topic of LBGT inclusion (which will be voted upon at the Special General Conference to be held Feb. 23-26, 2019), please go to our homepage, click on the “Worship” tab, then scroll down to “Sermons”.  Go to Sunday, April 8th, 2018, click on “Read More”.  The message is on an audio track.

The Spring 2018 edition of the Eastern PA Conference news publication, NEWSpirit, is now available online at https://www.epaumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/spring18-rgb.pdf .  This edition contains several articles pertaining to our Finding a Way Forward.

[Italicized sections are excerpted from the Eastern PA Conference website – www.epaumc.org – of which Calvary Mohnton is a church in the South District.]

What is the Commission and why was it formed?

The Commission on a Way Forward was created after the 2016 General Conference approved a motion for the Council of Bishops to name a commission that would explore options to keep the unity of the church that had been threatened over the question of inclusion of LGBTQ persons. The Commission is diverse body that represents the global church with members coming from nine countries with a variety of theological perspectives. The Commission is one third laity, one third clergy, and one third bishops and includes younger persons, LGBTQ persons, professors, administrators, pastors, youth ministers, campus ministers, lay leaders, large church pastors, and persons identified with renewal and advocacy groups.

Who participated and what were the goals of the Commission?

MORE ABOUT THE COMMISSION

When will the full final report be released and what was the initial response by the Council of Bishops?

“We anticipate the report will be released in early July. Future work will be with delegations to create a culture that will listen to God, receive the report, and do this work with a heart of peace and not a heart of war,” said Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops.
Although their work is officially over, members of the Commission will collaborate with residential bishops in equipping delegations between now and 2019 General Conference, which will be held Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The following statement of clarification was crafted by the bishops who served on the UMC’s Commission on a Way Forward and approved by the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops this week:

The Council of Bishops (COB) has voted by an overwhelming majority to share the work done by the Commission on a Way Forward on the three plans and to recommend the One Church Plan.
The One Church Plan will be placed before the General Conference for legislative action. To honor the work of the commission, and in service to the delegates to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, the COB will also provide supplemental materials that include a historical narrative with disciplinary implications related to the connectional conference plan and the traditionalist plan. The recommendation adopted by the COB reflects the wide diversity of theological perspectives and the global nature of The United Methodist Church as the best way forward for our future as a denomination.
Bishop Kenneth Carter
President, Council of Bishops

What are the three plans? [Excerpted from a statement by Bishop Peggy Johnson]

*One Church Plan (Formerly “Centrist Plan”) – removes the restrictive language in the Discipline around same gender marriage and the practice of and ordination of lesbian and gay people. It will allow each conference and church to operate from their context. No one would be forced to go against their conscience around these issues. There would be no changes in the constitution.

**Traditional Plan – keeps the Discipline as it is with the restrictive language around same gender marriage and the practice of and ordination of lesbian and gay people. Stronger accountabilities would be a part of this plan.

***Connectional Plan (Formerly “Multi-branch” Plan) – allows jurisdictions to vote to become in one of three groups: traditional, contextual, and justice. The central conferences could also become a group if desired. All groups would share some of the common denominational services and some agencies. The individual groups would organize their own programming. Conferences may affiliate with another group if the one that their jurisdiction is a part of is not where they wish to join. There would be seven constitutional changes needed to empower this plan to be enacted.

What is the response by the Northeast Jurisdiction to these options?

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS

What is the response from the head of our Eastern PA Conference, Bishop Peggy Johnson?

Statement from Bishop Peggy Johnson – Philadelphia Area

In 2016, the General Conference asked the bishops of the United Methodist Church to lead a process that would find a way forward for the church concerning the matter of human sexuality and, in particular, the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church. At the Council of Bishops meeting last week we have decided on what we will present to the delegates for their work at the special-called session of General Conference in February 23-26, 2019.

The proposed way forward for our church keeps the mission of Jesus Christ, the unity of the church, and the affirmation of context based ministry as the key foundational points for the future of the church. The Council of Bishops is recommending a “One Church Plan” * that honors these diverse contextual and theological approaches in a proposal that offers space and grace for ministry to unfold.
It also allows for the Central Conferences, especially those in Africa to retain traditional language and values.

The Council of Bishops will include the other two plans (“Traditional Plan”** and “Connectional Plan”***) in their statement to the delegates and also explain the process that was involved in reaching this conclusion. These will be transparent narratives of the two other options that were are a part of our discernment and consideration. The final details of this will be available after July 8th when all of the translations of the documents are complete. The Council of Bishops agree to not discuss details or legislative proposals of the plans until they are available to everyone.

I want to assure you that there has been considerable prayer, theological reflection and deep conversation this week. We are of many hearts in this denomination and also among the bishop colleagues there is diversity of thoughts.

What do we do now in the meantime?

-We remain prayerful for the unity of the church. The bishops are calling for everyone to consider pausing to pray each day from 2:23 and 2:26 (both a.m. and p.m as is possible). Those times are the exact dates of our special called session of General Conference (February 23-26). Also we ask that you consider entering into a Wesley Fast (sundown on Thursday until noon on Friday) each week in preparation for General Conference. Other prayer suggestions and gatherings across the connection will be organized as well.

-We as United Methodists need to enter into an attitude of “convicted humility.” According to the COB “This is an attitude which combines honesty about the differing convictions which divide us with humility about the way in which each of our views may stand in need of corrections. It also involves humble repentance for all the ways in which we have spoken and acted as those seeking to win a fight rather than those called to discern the shape of faithfulness together. In that spirit, we wish to lift up the sacred core commitments which define the Wesleyan movement and ground our search for wisdom and holiness.”

Most importantly we keep doing the mission of the church. The overwhelming work that we all support is making disciples for the transformation of the world. We do this by church development and redevelopment, encouraging new leaders, engaging in ministry with the poor and improving global health. United Methodists are people of grace, peace and hope. May it be so!

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