umc laity letter

Welcome. This is the place where updated information will be posted for the signers of An Open Letter from the Laity as well as our clergy allies and other interested folk. It will be updated in a timely fashion if we get a response from Bishop Ough, with new links, and other information regarding the Commission.

Want to read the letter and/or see all the amazing laity signers*? Here is the PDF version of Laity Missing From Commission For A Way Forward: An Open Letter from the Laity with all signatories.

Current Status of the Letter

  • Physical letter sent to Bishop Ough on Saturday, October 15, 2016. Click HERE to track the letter, it should arrive to Bishop Ough’s office on Tuesday, October 18.
  • Email with the letter & attached PDF sent to Bishop Ough + Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops on Sunday, October 16.
  • All mediums delivered and received!

Responses from the Executive Council

  • Email from Bishop Ken Carter: Thank you for this letter.  The process of the composition of the team continues, and this very appropriate concern is shaping the final discernments.  Blessings to all of you as you worship God today. (October 16, 2016)
  • Quote from Bishop Bruce Ough via UMNS: “We absolutely agree that the voices of laity are important, and they will have a prominent role in the commission’s work alongside of clergy and bishops… The process for nominating persons to the commission is ongoing. The concern about the number of laypersons nominated to serve on the commission has been heard and is being taken seriously. The pool of original nominees is currently being reviewed in response to this concern.” (October 17, 2016)
  • See below letter from Bishop Ough.

Letter From Bishop Ough

October 22, 2016

Irene R. DeMaris
Seattle, WA 98146

Dear Irene,

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I want to thank you and the many others who drafted the open letter to me and the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops regarding the number of laity initially nominated to the Commission on A Way Forward.

Your thoughtful letter and the concerns you raised, along with feedback from several members of the Council of Bishops, have helped inform and shape the Executive Committee’s work in completing the nomination process. Several additional laypersons have been identified from among the 300-plus original nominees and recommended to the Council for inclusion on the Commission. However, the Commission membership will retain a rough balance between bishops, clergy and laity.

The 2016 General Conference gave a specific mandate to the Council of Bishops to lead The United Methodist Church in discerning and proposing a way forward through the present impasse related to human sexuality and the consequent questions about unity and covenant. While the bishops were given this assignment by the General Conference, we chose to broaden the conversation to include other clergy and laity. Thus, the Commission is a technical group appointed by the Council to assist and inform the Council in fulfilling its mandate. This understanding of the Commission’s role led the Council to name bishops from across the global Connection to serve on the Commission alongside laity and clergy. While only laity and clergy will vote at a General Conference on these matters, the bishops have the responsibility to lead the church.

I agree that it will take fresh eyes, and I would add, fully open hearts and minds, to move the church forward. The COB Executive Committee believes we have named a Commission that gives us the best chance to create the sacred conversation necessary to find a way forward. We acknowledge that, given the parameters of a global church on four continents, the desire for representation, and the practice of democratic polity, there will be speculation and questioning (such as your open letter) of the final composition.

Finally, I want to inform you that the Council is developing plans to do additional and complementary work in annual conferences to further broaden the conversation with hundreds of additional lay and clergy members. Although the Commission will have a critical role in assisting the Council, it will not be the only voice that will inform decisions made at General Conference.

Again, thank you for your articulate letter and Spirit-inspired counsel. You have assisted us in creating a more inclusive Commission. May God illuminate our path and open hearts to seek a new way forward.

In Christ,

Bruce R. Ough
President, Council of Bishops

Goals Moving Forward

  1. Response from College of Bishops:
    • Explanation of the reasoning of why so few laity are included on the Commission.
    • Discover if this can be remedied.
  2. Continual mobilization of laity around the Commission.
  3. Creating a grassroots laity movement within The United Methodist Church.
  4. Are you UMC laity and didn’t sign the letter but want to be apart of this movement, please click HERE and join our UMC Laity list today.

Media & Blogs Mentioning Open Letter

Bishops name commission members by Heather Hahn
United Methodist News Service • October 24, 2016

The Room Where it Happens For The #UMC by the Rev. Jeremy Smith
Hacking Christianity • October 24, 2016

Laity want more representation on commission by Kathy L. Gilbert
United Methodist News Service • October 17, 2016

Way Forward Commission makeup challenged by Kathy L. Gilbert & Sam Hodges
United Methodist News Service • October 6, 2016

#allies by the Rev. Sara Baron
A Snarky Pastor’s Rantings • October 6, 2016

Fig Tree Revolution • October 6, 2016

Tell the Bishops: Give Laypeople Equality on ‘Way Forward’ by UM Insight Editorial
United Methodist Insight • October 7, 2016

Same old same old by Dr. Dorothee Benz
Reconciling Ministries Network • October 7, 2016

guest post: why i signed the open laity letter by Aaron Pazan
Reclaiming My Initials • October 10, 2016

Four Questions on Laity Inclusion in ‘A Way Forward’ by the Rev. Jeremy Smith
Hacking Christianity • October 11, 2016

guest post: i signed because i am passionate about the future of this church by Home Missioner Kevin Nelson
Reclaiming My Initials • October 12, 2016

Questions or concerns? Contact Irene DeMaris.

*Despite our best efforts, a few clergy allies may slipped past our screens. Thank you for your well-intentioned support.