Dear Friends in Christ Jesus:
Last week it was my great joy to thank you for thoughtful prayers and communications as the Council of Bishops (COB) was meeting. As our prayers for one another and The United Methodist Church continue, so does my gratitude for our partnership in ministry.
Last week the Council of Bishops received with gratitude the report of the Commission On A Way Forward and has voted to recommend and prepare as a petition to the 2019 General Conference the way forward referred to as the One Church Plan. A notable majority of bishops believe the One Church Plan has the greatest potential to serve the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The Council will also share with the whole church in its report the breadth of possibilities considered by the Commission and the Council. The Commission On A Way Forward will have its last (9th of 9) final scheduled meeting next week. A petition to the General Conference of 2019 will be submitted not later than the deadline of July 8.
There will continue to be opportunities here in West Ohio for learning the details of any recommendation, for conversation and community building, and of course for unceasing prayer for the delegates to the General Conference, our bishops, pastors, laity and local churches. I look forward to these opportunities with you.
The recent COB meeting also included receiving the report of the canvassing of the Annual Conferences throughout the church on the votes on the five constitutional amendments passed by the 2016 General Conference. We took our vote on these during Annual Conference last year. You will note that three of the amendments are now church law, so to speak. Two of the amendments did not receive the required two-thirds of the aggregate votes in the conferences to take effect. The two amendments that will not become a part of our constitution had to do with gender. The lack of adoption was received by many, including me, as a strong blow and huge setback to unambiguous affirmation of the full humanity and equality of women. If you look at the numbers I have provided for you here, you will note that while amendments one and two received a majority of the affirmative votes here in West Ohio, the margin indicates to me that we have work to do.
I’m not counting or anything, but we are 25 days out from the start of Annual Conference. I am looking forward to the opportunity that we will be afforded to rejoice in God’s grace and mercy, remember those who have had their membership transferred to the Church Triumphant, to celebrate our shared ministry, and plan for the future.
All the best in Jesus Christ,
+Gregory V. Palmer