The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, in support of the Commission on a Way Forward, today announced the release of a new study guide, “The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.”
The study guide offers United Methodists an opportunity to facilitate constructive conversations around a cultural and ecclesial flashpoint—human sexuality. The concept for the study guide originates from an Academic Theological Colloquy that shares its name and was held at Candler School of Theology in March 2017.
Convened to help the Commission on a Way Forward complete careful theological work around this pressing topic, the Colloquy brought together more than 30 participating scholars from United Methodist seminaries and theology schools around the world to present and discuss theological reflections on human sexuality and Christian doctrine.
During this time in the denomination, constructive conversations around the topic of human sexuality and church unity are vital. The four-week study guide is a tool to help annual conferences and local churches empower these important conversations.
Methodism is no stranger to controversy. John Wesley addressed the contentious issues of his day and endeavored to hold the Methodist societies together across many lines of difference. This guide follows the depths of the Wesleyan heritage to enhance our faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The study guide is based on the work of Dr. Charles Wood, retired professor of Christian Doctrine from Perkins School of Theology. At the Colloquy, Wood presented his paper “Wonder, Love, and Praise,” focusing on the saving love of God for all people, the transformational love of God, and the ability of God’s love to create community.
“GBHEM is charged with the leadership development of our church. As a part of this responsibility, we continually work to provide the tools and resources needed for our church leadership to help move our church forward. The study guide is one of these resources,” said Dr. Kim Cape, GBHEM general secretary. “As the discussion of church unity continues, the study guide can help ensure that constructive conversations and reflections take place around the church. Through these conversations, we will discern our way forward.”
Dr. Kim Cape authored the foreword for the study guide and Bishop Kenneth Carter, Florida Episcopal Area, created the afterword for the four-part study guide. The four sections of the guide include: The Conversation Matters, Loving God with Our Mind Matters, The United Methodist Church Matters and Finding a Way Forward Matters.
“The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness” study guide is available on Cokesbury.com. Translations in French, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese will be available on the GBHEM website here.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.