CAPTION: Group picture of participants in a meeting called by Central Conference bishops to address the impasse in the United Methodist Church regarding inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. Photo by Maidstone Mulenga.

CHICAGO – A group of prominent United Methodists met in Chicago on Friday, July 19, 2019, to seek new ways to address the impasse regarding full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The United Methodist Church.

This meeting was called by Central Conference bishops for the purpose of creating space for open and frank conversation where all parties could dialogue and work together to find a new pathway for the denomination.

Those in attendance included Tom Berlin, Keith Boyette, Junius Dotson, Maxie Dunnam, Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, Adam Hamilton, Mark Holland, Jan Lawrence, Patricia L. Miller, Randall Miller, Karen Prudente, Rob Renfroe, Kimberly Scott, Jasmine Smothers, and Mark Tooley. The discussions were guided by Bishop John Yambasu, Bishop Christian Alsted and Bishop Mande Muyombo.

The group began its work centered in worship, focused on Ephesians 4:1-6, which urges Christians to make “every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Engaging in candid conversations, striving for consensus, the participants grappled with the painful realities of the aftermath of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference held in St. Louis in February.

The participants agreed to form a group comprising two persons each from centrists, conservatives, progressives; and two central conference bishops. The purpose of the smaller group is to recommend a framework for the future of global United Methodism.

As the participants departed, there was consensus that regardless of differing convictions, the Holy Spirit is still at work in our Church.