Christ United members and friends,
Since July of 2019 a small group of United Methodist leaders, representing most of the caucus groups and theological positions of our church, has been quietly negotiating to find a way through the United Methodist Church’s impasse on the issue of human sexuality. Most of these leaders, on all sides, are friends and colleagues that we personally know and respect. We have had the privilege of providing input to them through these months, and have been apprised of their progress along the way.
This past week these negotiations, aided by a world-famous mediator named Kenneth Feinburg, culminated in an agreement-in-principle that was unanimously endorsed by all participants. It provides for the retention of the United Methodist Church as we know it, but also provides generous and gracious pathways for some United Methodists, on both the right and left sides of the theological spectrum, to leave and form new denominations that will endorse different doctrinal standards. It is important to note that these negotiations were collaborative in every way, and the outcome met the standard we were hoping for. As centrists, we believe in a large-tent church where people can agree to disagree on many non-essential issues, but we want to provide blessings to colleagues and friends who, in good conscience, seek to depart to form different expressions of the Wesleyan theological tradition.
It is crucial to understand the following points:
- This agreement is, at this point, informal and non-binding. It must be passed by the upcoming General Conference in May.
- There are no decisions or votes that need to be made at this point. The structure of the agreement provides for the real possibility that many, if not most, local churches will never need to vote at all.
- Both of us support this agreement-in-principle, and believe that it represents the best possible outcome given United Methodist disagreements on human sexuality. We believe that it will enable Methodists of all convictions to remain strong witnesses to the love of Christ throughout the world.
- We celebrate this moment as an example to the world of how Christians can, in love, disagree about important issues without imposing serious damage on the church universal or the Christian witness.
We urge all members and friends of Christ United to join us in prayer that the spirit of this agreement will continue to guide all members of the United Methodist Church as we move forward to General Conference. We will schedule an information session in the near future so that each of you can be more fully informed. Meanwhile, we urge you to join us in gratitude and a non-anxious spirit of peace, as we continue the vital work of loving God, serving others, and transforming lives in our local mission setting.
Thank you for the extraordinarily vital ministry you made possible in the past year. We are eager to join you in even more exciting and transforming ministries in the year ahead.
Rev. Don Underwood
Rev. Chris Dowd
Associate Senior Pastor