The Commission on a Way Forward (Newsletter Fall 2016)

By Gary Shephard    
General Conference 2016 is in the rearview mirror. However, for an issue extremely important to many of us, we
won’t have to wait until GC 2020 to see what’s next.

On the second Wednesday of GC 2016, the Council of Bishops made a proposal. They would form a special
commission, to be known as the Commission on a Way Forward. This commission would have as its goal to propose
how the church could move forward on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Including in this proposal
was a request that trials of LGBTQI and LGBTQI supporting clergy be curtailed (but not eliminated). It also tabled
all petitions that had made it out of committee.

After the usual wrangling on the GC floor, the proposal was accepted.

The membership of the commission has now been named, but has not yet met face to face. Affirmation (as well as
I’m sure many other organizations) asked for a seat at the table. Our request, as far as I know, was never
acknowledged. RMN did succeed in getting their executive director, Matt Berryman, selected.

As I understand it, the commission is to present its findings in July or August 2018, with any legislative solutions
being voted on at a called General Conference in February or March 2019. The delay between the release of the
commission’s decisions and legislation is to give the delegates 230 days to review the proposals before voting on

The delegates at this called GC will be those that served in 2016, or their alternates if they’re unable to serve. An
annual or a central conference can choose to elect new delegates, if they wish.

This, in my own personal opinion, is a good approach. They’ve finally gotten the discussion out of the 10 day
pressure cooker of General Conference. I hope and pray that they will come up with a solution that will keep most if
not all of us happy.

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