MAHONING VALLEY DISTRICT
Join in Conversations on a Way Forward
It’s the conversation we can’t avoid any longer: how will the United Methodist Church deal with issues of human sexuality? For a long time, many churches and individuals could politely avoid the issues, but the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States pushed us to a tipping point in the United Methodist Church. To recap, the 2016 General Conference authorized the bishops to create a small, diverse Way Forward Commission to study all the paragraphs of the Book of Discipline relating to human sexuality and offer us, well, a way forward as we seek to be faithful Christians who currently hold divergent views. The report will be presented to a special Conference in 2019. The topic has arisen at several of my consultations so far this fall, so I’d like to share a few thoughts.
First, nothing has been decided yet! Therefore, I am not speculating about what I think will happen, because I really don’t know. You are welcome to Google other people’s predictions, but they are simply guesses. Some folks are wanting to withdraw or withhold giving because they “don’t like the direction the church is going.” That is certainly their right. To my mind, however, the direction has not been established. If you experience God’s presence through your local church and still feel called to its ministries to make a difference for Christ in the world, then I urge you to stick with your local church and wait to see how it plays out. As Bishop Malone keeps reminding us, “Let the Commission do its work.”
Second, whatever the outcome is, working through it will be challenging. Our conference is sponsoring a series of conversations to help us prepare. These conversations have been carefully designed and will be conducted with trained facilitators so that people truly have a chance to speak and listen, not just shout talking points. The goal is to listen for understanding, even if we do not change our minds or come to agreement. You can attend any of the scheduled conversations, but you do need to register. You can do so and learn more . The conversation scheduled in our district is Tuesday, Nov. 14 at Western Reserve UMC, 6-9 p.m. I urge you to attend!
Finally, yes, I have an opinion and I will share it if asked directly. But my job as district superintendent is to help each church be the strongest and healthiest it can be for the purpose of making disciples of Christ who will transform the world. That is true even if we should end up in different denominations down the road. (And again, that is pure speculation at this point!) So I’m going to keep serving as God has called me until God calls me in a different direction. There are lots of people in the Mahoning Valley who need the light and love of Christ. That’s the work God has called us to here and now.
Rev. Abby Auman
The Mahoning Valley District Office:
Rev. Abby Auman
4580 Canfield Rd, PO Box 11260 Youngstown OH 44511
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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