This Sunday marks the beginning of a week of concerted prayer for United Methodists across South Georgia. We are being invited to pray for our global church, God's work in local churches, and specifically for the United Methodist Church’s “Praying Our Way Forward” initiative, which launched January 1 and kicked off seventy-five weeks of focused prayer. Each annual conference around the world will take one week to pray for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. You can read daily prayers at https://www.sgaumc.org/prayingourwayforward
This is something many in our church have been keenly following and lifting up in prayer for some time, even before our town-hall meetings in the fall of 2016. The Commission, created at the 2016 General Conference, was asked to bring proposals for how we might move forward as a denomination, especially concerning matters of biblical interpretation and human sexuality in the midst of broken trust by lay and clergy persons, and explore options to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. Bishop Lawson Bryan, who was our guest speaker in September, mentioned in his invitation, “We are called to a posture of prayer, praying for God’s leadership to guide us effectively in fulfilling the mission of the church. All persons – clergy and laity, conferences and congregations – across the denomination are invited to pray for God’s guidance.”
I was included in a group discussion with one of the members of the thirty-three person Commission a month ago, and heard early sketches of possible proposals that General Conference delegates would vote on in thirteen months. I felt good about their work, and believe that God is making a path. I heard options that allow most of the church to remain together, while giving some a graceful exit based on their convictions.
There is much spiritual warfare being battled on this topic within every local church and denomination. We would be wrong not to join in or double-down on our efforts of praying for God's will to be done. As your pastor, I remain committed to seeking God's leading in ways that draw people in our community closer to God and with each other. Let us pray. Scott