As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people. We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we do so, we call on all United Methodists to pray for us and for one another.
My concerns are several. After all, the debate on human sexuality is one portion, but is it the root?
- Yes, we are all committed to ministry, but this is an issue as well. If you view an LGBT person as a complete sinner, then you will do ministry to them whereas if you don’t view them as a sinner, then you will do ministry with them.
- There are differences on basic theology. I’m not talking just about Christology, but likewise congregationalism and even soft-Calvinism. It is this that is the root, in my opinion.
- This ignores a real controversy of people simply ignoring the Book of Discipline at their whim.
It remains to be seen what this will do to the two sides. I suspect the softness of the language will excite the extreme left, destroy the optimism of many in the middle and via media, and anger the extreme right.
However, we pray for unity.