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  • Gary Shephard

The Commission on a Way Forward (Newsletter 2016)

General Conference 2016 is in the rearview mirror. However, for an issue extremely important to many of us, wewon’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 specialcommission, to be known as the Commission on a Way Forward. This commission would have as its goal to proposehow the church could move forward on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Including in this proposalwas a request that trials of LGBTQI and LGBTQI supporting clergy be curtailed (but not eliminated). It also tabledall 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 asI’m sure many other organizations) asked for a seat at the table. Our request, as far as I know, was neveracknowledged. 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 solutionsbeing voted on at a called General Conference in February or March 2019. The delay between the release of thecommission’s decisions and legislation is to give the delegates 230 days to review the proposals before voting onthem.

The delegates at this called GC will be those that served in 2016, or their alternates if they’re unable to serve. Anannual 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 daypressure cooker of General Conference. I hope and pray that they will come up with a solution that will keep most ifnot all of us happy.

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