The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force Hosts Third Panel on Human Sexuality
The Connectional Table
February 11, 2015
MAPUTO, Mozambique: On February 10, 2015, in Maputo, Mozambique, The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force hosted its third and final panel on human sexuality which emphasized the denomination’s central conference perspective. Ricky Harrison, Connectional Table member and Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School, moderated the panel. Panelists included Rev. Nday Bondo of Africa University and elder in the North Katanga Annual Conference, Rev. Israel Alvaran of Reconciling Ministries Network and elder in the Philippines Annual Conference, and Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area of the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference. Panelists introduced themselves by answering two questions. The first addressed the relationship between sexual orientation and one’s membership, baptism, and full involvement in the life of The United Methodist Church. The second question inquired about the potential outcomes of a change within The Book of Discipline on the current stance regarding homosexuality. Panelists responded to these questions and others from the Human Sexuality Task Force, members of The Connectional Table, and from the DreamUMC Twitter conversation held on January 26, 2015. The panel was recorded by United Methodist Communications and will be available online starting February 14, 2015, at http://umc.org/connectional-table-webcast.
Immediately following the panel, members of The Connectional Table gathered and discussed possible approaches to respond to their April 2014 motion concerning human sexuality. The Human Sexuality Legislative Team asked the Connectional Table for direction in accordance to this mandate.
Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, district superintendent of the West Michigan Annual Conference and Connectional Table member, presented a report to The Connectional Table on the process taken by the Team. The report emphasized three theological assertions that directed their work. They were the centrality of mission, unity for the sake of mission, and baptism as the basis for our identity as Christians and as United Methodists.
After the presentation, Connectional Table members spent the afternoon in discernment and conversation as they prayerfully considered the response to the motion. The Connectional Table read each approach and discerned in small groups. Responses from individual members and from the small groups were gathered at the conclusion of the session and will be used to direct the continued work of the General Conference – Missional Administration Group.
Though the CT did not take a formal vote at this meeting, the group did affirm the consideration of a particular approach that could provide a “Third Way” beyond The United Methodist Church’s impasse over homosexuality.
“This approach maintains the unity of the church, focuses the church on its mission, and provides spaces of grace in which there could be the exercise of conscience,” stated Kennetha Bigham-Tsai. “The group also affirmed that this approach would best allow for the contextual practice of ministry. The CT will continue its discernment and decision making process at its May meeting. Following this meeting their final recommendation will be released."
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