Author: Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, retired
I’m pleased to join my Episcopal Colleagues of the Western Jurisdiction in endorsing the “One Church Plan,” presented by our Council of Bishops, as the better way forward for The United Methodist Church. By taking this position, I acknowledge that the “One Church Plan” is not perfect. In fact, it’s far from being perfect. Yet, it is the better plan among all those being proposed to the 2019 Special General Conference. Why? It keeps us in one single structure, while allowing space for people who disagree to remain within the one structure without facing punitive actions. For people with open minds, it allows us to continue the struggle toward perfection, together, in a united structure, rather than in separate structures based on theological or moral beliefs or differences regarding human sexuality. John Wesley invites us in the Methodist movement to prayerfully strive toward perfection as, together, we seek to become one in Christ.
I speak as one who lived with the experience and consequences of the 1939 General Conference decision to create a separate Central Jurisdiction based on race. It took us thirty years to tear down that wall and to continue the journey toward racial inclusion. It saddens me to say that racism is alive and well in The United Methodist Church. But, together in one structure the journey toward full inclusion continues.
It is my belief that the “One Church Plan” provides for us the greater possibility for unity, by learning to live with our differences regarding race and sexual orientation as persons created in the image of God. We are called to be one in Christ. In all my theological discovery, I’m reminded we are all sinners, in the process of being saved by God’s grace.