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GBHEM and AUMTS to Co-Host Colloquy on Church Unity

November 3, 2016

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS) announced plans to co-host a theological colloquy on “The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.” The colloquy, planned in support of the Council of Bishops, will take place March 10-12, 2017 at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia.

The colloquy, an informed theological conversation, will bring together professors from the 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States, as well as Asbury Seminary and seminaries in the central conferences of Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary, GBHEM, and Dr. Jan Love, president, AUMTS, issued a call for papers to nearly 30 United Methodist scholars in the areas of history, doctrine and polity. All invited participants must write and submit a paper in advance.

Dr. Cape stated, “Ever since the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church proposed A Way Forward at General Conference, the staff of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has thought, talked, and prayed together about ways this agency can best be of service to the church in the current context.” Cape added, “We are convinced that the key issue before the church at this moment is the question of unity: the unity of the church as a gift from God; the unity of the church as a calling in response to Christ’s prayer in John 17:11; the unity of the church in light of our unresolved questions regarding human sexuality; and the unity of the church in light of our common desire to provide a faithful United Methodist witness.”

In planning this colloquy, GBHEM and AUMTS emphasize that it is offered in collaboration with, and following the guidance of, the COB and their plans for the Commission on a Way Forward. Bishop Ken Carter and Dr. Cape will co-convene the colloquy.

“The AUMTS is delighted to partner with GBHEM in this endeavor under the direction of the Council of Bishops. We are eager to use the rich intellectual resources of our schools in service to the church in this way,” stated Dr. Love. “We know that throughout history, The United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies have encountered situations where committed followers held very different perspectives on one or more pressing issues of the day. Clergy and laity alike genuinely, intensely disagreed on what being a faithful Christian in the Wesleyan tradition required in relation to those critical issues,” Love continued. “We hope that by exploring these historical encounters together we will gain insight on the dilemmas and challenges we face today.” 

Following the work of the colloquy, GBHEM will publish papers submitted by the scholars, and will also share the results of this process with the Bishops’ Commission, Boards of Ordained Ministry, district superintendents, campus ministers, the Orders of Elders and Deacons, the Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors, and others, which will provide tools and resources that will enable the Church to have an informed, more substantive theological conversation about this subject.