Grace and peace to you in this New Year. May Christ our Lord bless you and keep you throughout the days to come.
Early this morning the work of a group of faithful leaders of our United Methodist Church pertaining to the division that we continue to experience over whether LGBTQ+ persons will be fully included in the life and ministry of The UMC was released. While it is not solely the work of the Council of Bishops, it is work that has had the full support and engagement of the Council.
Just yesterday the Council of Bishops held a conference call at which time we received an updated report on what is being called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation. While a conference call of 90 bishops connecting from places around the world can be difficult, the response was hopeful and thankful to God for a process that has been done carefully, respectfully and lovingly.
The Protocol is the work of a diverse group of United Methodist bishops and other leaders from across the connection which allows for traditionalist churches to form a new denomination while preserving The United Methodist Church. It also calls for holding in abeyance all administrative or judicial processes addressing restrictions in the Book of Discipline related to self-avowed practicing homosexuals or same-sex weddings beginning January 1, 2020. The authors of the Protocol referred to this abeyance as “…one expression of reconciliation and grace through separation…”
Approval of the Protocol would also initiate the process of organizing the US jurisdictions into a region alongside regional bodies in Africa, Europe, Eurasia, and the Philippines with flexibility to adapt the Book of Discipline to enable each region to better serve in their social contexts. Provisions for continued funding to eliminate racism within the UMC and support for racial-ethnic ministries is another integral and critical piece of the Protocol. You can find the full press release by journalist Sam Hodges at UMNews.org
I want to ask that all of us take time to prayerfully consider the Protocol document and pray for our General Conference delegation and all the delegates who will gather in Minneapolis in May for the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. May they too be Spirit-led as they consider the work before our beloved Church. I strongly believe that this Protocol document deepens our work of Christian conferencing on the matter of the full inclusion of ALL God’s Children. May it bring us healing as we work together in God’s mission for the transformation of the world.
Your Sister in Christ,
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño