The Way Forward is just that, a path toward the future. For some this is an intensely important conversation. Others are less engaged, more focused on local matters; yet others, having drawn conclusions, are content to sit at the edges, being more interested in how the landscape will look once everything is sorted out.

If you are reading this, I trust that you have more than a passing interest. And so I want to make three requests:

  • Consider the diverse voices in these pages, ones that have something to contribute to this conversation. This is important. The United Methodist Church does extraordinary ministry on four continents, in many languages, under the cross and flame. There is a great deal at stake here.
  • As you read these essays, hold a posture of an open mind and heart. God has begun a good work in us, but God is not finished with any one of us. It is less about where we stand and more about whom we are walking with. There are multiple angles of vision, and I pray that the perspectives in these pages will deepen our understandings.
  • This is important, because the church is not at closure in seeking a way forward. The work, begun by the Commission on a Way Forward in dialogue with the Council of Bishops, and in deep listening to the whole church, is now in the hands of the delegations from across the church to the Special Session of the General Conference. These laity and clergy, women and men, will listen for the movement of the Holy Spirit in casting a vision for the church in the next season of its life.

I have been drawn to the words of Ephesians 4:1-6 and invite you to be guided by them as well:

Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all. (Eph 4:1-6 CEB)

May this edition of Circuit Rider serve as one of our efforts, among many, to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the peace that ties us together. Indeed, it is that same Spirit that we invoke at the Lord’s Table to make us “one with Christ, one with each other, and one ministry to all the world.”

This, the Spirit’s leading, is our best way forward. Thank you for walking on this path with us!

Publisher’s Note: Circuit Rider, an online quarterly periodical, continues to appear at Print runs ceased in 2016. This special August 2018 edition is made available one time in print for United Methodist clergy and 2019 General Conference delegates.

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