The Coordinating Team for Uniting Methodists expressed appreciation for the leadership of the African Bishops of The United Methodist Church after reading their statement released after a September 3 – 7 meeting in Sierra Leone. Commenting on the bishops’ statement, the leadership group said: “Uniting Methodists are grateful to the bishops for affirming their passion for the UMC’s ministry in each setting across the worldwide connection.”
Uniting Methodists spokesperson, Rev. James Harnish added, “By rejecting calls for schism, the bishops reiterated their long standing commitment to building up the unity of the Church for its mission of evangelism and transformation in the name of Jesus Christ. As United Methodists we are most effective when working in concert as amply demonstrated by the phenomenal levels of disciple-making and church growth in Africa.”
The team noted that the African bishops are showing the importance of tailoring ministries that are attentive to the unique needs of each cultural and geographical context. The Coordinating Team especially affirmed the bishop’s commitment to keeping faith with their vows to be pastors to all and to guard the unity of the Church.
“Unity isn’t solely based on our agreement on every issue,” said the Uniting Methodists statement, “but the pursuit of unity is a divine call modeled by the triune God.” Uniting Methodists describe themselves as “Faithful United Methodist Christians who love God and follow Jesus and hold differing views but have learned to live together and to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, affirming the same historic creeds, attending the same churches, Sunday school classes and Bible studies, and participating side by side in mission and ministry. We are bound together in a Wesleyan understanding of God’s love and grace.”
“We can all be part of the same Church and respect each other’s views even when we disagree,” said Harnish. “Those who are a part of the Uniting Methodists movement hold differing views about matters related to LGBTQ inclusion. Some share the perspective expressed by the African Bishops about marriage while others do not. But we all share a deep commitment to living and working together and in making room in our denomination for all.”
The statement from Uniting Methodists thanked the bishops for their witness and leadership and underscored the conviction that as United Methodist people we are called to be in mission together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.