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Listening to each other

Four voices offer their observations and experiences toward A Way Forward. 
In his recent commentary on prayer efforts around the Bishops Commission on A Way Forward Rev. Lloyd Nyarota, a United Methodist Elder from Zimbabwe, reflects: “Sometimes It’s so easy to hate people you don’t really know. All you have is your stereotypes and resentments. I think as United Methodists, it is time we get to know each other within our connectional global community, so that we would start reconciling with each other. This can only happen if our Commission takes a reconciliation approach as a way forward for our denomination.”

In the spirit of Nyarota’s commentary that urges United Methodists to, “the kind of commitment that will let us genuinely listen to each other,” these three articles in this week’s United Methodist news are presented together.

Can our ‘way forward’ be reconciliation?
by Rev. Lloyd T. Nyarota

It is good and great that prayer is taking a central role in the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. It is my humble opinion that the commission needs to take a reconciliatory approach.

For The United Methodist Church to move forward, we need to reconcile as a denomination about the years we have spent battling each other. Then the church can focus on critical Christian ministries.

Reconciliation takes dialogue and partnership to a new level. It invites us to reflect on what harm has been done by imposing stereotypes on each other instead of opening ourselves to see what the other had to offer. Read more.

Karen Oliveto’s Election as Bishop Was a Movement of the Holy Spirit
by Kent Ingram and Emily Allen

It’s time for The United Methodist Church to learn the real story behind the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto from the perspective of Western Jurisdiction delegates that elected her in July 2016.

When we gathered in Scottsdale, Ariz., to choose a new bishop in the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church we weren’t expecting to experience a monumental movement of the Holy Spirit

A diverse field of clergy – nine eminently qualified people of different races, and ethnic backgrounds, and yes, a gay man and a lesbian – sensed a calling from God to a new experience of service to the church of Jesus Christ as a bishop. Read more.

Understanding renewal, reform group positions

by Rev. Walter Fenton

As the Commission on a Way Forward moves beyond preliminaries to the hard task of proposing a plan for the church’s consideration, it is worth trying to clarify what United Methodists in the renewal and reform groups regard as misunderstandings or mischaracterizations of their positions.

Not infrequently, some centrists and progressives claim renewal and reform leaders are unwilling to engage in dialogue. This is demonstrably untrue. Over the years, its leaders and board members have participated in numerous roundtables, open forums and debates at every level of the church. They have respectfully listened to others, represented their own positions, and have given consideration to proposals to resolve our differences. They remain open to further conversation today. People who claim otherwise are either unfamiliar with the church’s 50-year history or are attempting to characterize them as impediments to unity. Read more.