Forum on The Future of The United Methodist Church


Peoria First UMC hosted a Forum on the Future of The United Methodist Church on April 28, 2015. Panelists were Rev. Walter Fenton, representing Good News, an unofficial evangelical caucus; Rev. Chris Ritter, pastor of Geneseo First UMC and author of proposed legislation at the 2016 General Conference and retired pastor Rev. Walter Carlson, who represented a progressive viewpoint on the issues facing the church.

In addition to questions asked during the forum, the following questions were not asked but may be helpful in furthering discussion on this issue:

  • Would returning to the Wesleyan practice of “holy Conferencing” help to move the UMC beyond its current impasse?
  • Is the Jurisdictional model so sacred that a more congregational oriented model of polity is not an option to solve some our issues?
  • For those of us who don’t neatly fit left/right categories, how can the UMC continue to be a safe place for us “in the middle?”
  • All Panelists – Do you consider Homosexuality a sin?
  • Chris – would your proposal have 2 Book of Disciplines? If your proposal is approved what would you forecast the US UMC membership to be in 2028?
  • Chris – Doesn’t your proposal allow the progressives to violate the current standards of the Discipline? How is that different from what the progressives are seeking now? You’re just giving them what they want without fear of reprisals.
  • (for Chris Ritter) Within the 6 Jurisdictional Plan would any of the Annual Conferences in (for instance, the Western Jurisdictional) remain in their geographic jurisdiction? And if not what would be the recourse for a moderate or conservative pastor/local congregation in such an Annual Conference? Ultimately, would we really even have a Western Jurisdiction for conservatives/moderates?
  • Wally – but Walter Fenton also said we can agree as long as it doesn’t strike at the roots of the faith. We do want all (us) broken folks, but we all (hopefully) want to change our sinful ways. We need to come to agreement on what God wants for us all. That means adhering to the Scripture.
  • Why is the Authority of the Bible being questioned/challenged? What does Light have to do with Darkness?
  • What is the IGRC doing to remove predatory pastors from appointment status? Explanation: My “tour of duty” on IGRC COSROW revealed to me as member and co-chair of COSROW that nothing is being done to remove IGRC predatory pastors from appointment status. Predatory pastors remain “on the job” in the IGRC. This must STOP! Reference BK : “When Pastors Prey” UMW Reading Program.
  • Wesley taught that in essential unity in non-essentials liberty & and in all things charity. Is our corporate disagreement with regard to same-sex marriage an essential or non-essential? And how can we show charity to these who would answer differently?
  • If the UMC wants to strengthen its local roots, is there the potential to re-look at seminary as the means to ordain clergy?