Friday, March 15, 2019

The UMC in Denmark considers "a better way forward"

Ole Birch, a pastor in the Denmark Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has suggested that body appoint a commission to recommend "a better way forward" for the UMC in Denmark. While Birch's suggestion is just that - a suggestion - it reveals the range of options that may be under consideration in Denmark following the adoption of the Traditional Plan by the special General Conference 2019. A translation by David Scott of an interview with Birch by the official website of the UMC in Denmark is below.

Proposal for a Better Way Forward (Forslag om en bedre vej fremad)
After the conclusion of the extraordinary General Conference last week, Ole Birch, pastor of the Jerusalem Church, posted a proposal to Facebook that he will present to the Methodist Church's National Meeting [Annual Conference]. Ole Birch calls the proposal "A better way forward," and it is about establishing a commission that will have the task to prepare a report for the 2021 annual conference on a future for the United Methodist Church in Denmark where gays and lesbians enjoy the same opportunities to have their relationships blessed and to serve in the church as all others.

You can read the proposal here. [Link in Danish.]

Proposals are made to the National Meeting and are handled by the delegates that the local congregations elect to represent them. has asked Ole Birch to explain the background for his proposal:

Ole Birch writes:

I have sent a proposal to the [United] Methodist Church in Denmark's annual conference about a commission for a better way forward. Moderator Anne Thompson has asked if I would shortly explain my thoughts in this regard, and I will do that gladly.

Like many others, I have experienced repeated disappointments that our more conservative brothers and sisters are not willing to allow room for different theologies on the question of human sexuality. I had dared to hope a little bit that our bishops initiative and support for the One Church Plan at the now concluded General Conference could have helped us into a new situation. As all who followed along saw, it went very differently. It is difficult to see how it would possibly go differently in the foreseeable future. It is my experience that many Danish Methodists experience discouragement and a feeling of powerlessness over this.

I make my proposal on two grounds. First, to point out that we are not powerless. We can, with God's help, take the situation into our own hands and form our future as we think it should be shaped. We must not give in to discouragement, which is a great temptation in this situation. Discouragement will lead us to give up and take us away from our fellowship in the church. I cannot think of any that feel discouraged, namely not the LGBTQ people that have held fast to their church, which has condemned and discriminated against them, but I will say that there is hope for a better way forward, if we stay together to form the way.

Second, I think we need to investigate what possibilities we have to come to a situation where we do not condemn and do not discriminate. Many have asked if one or another solution could not work? The commission I suggest should investigate to answer this question. Can we work together with European Methodists on a new church? Can we find ecumenical partners in Denmark to be church together with? Can we be autonomous? Can we ever leave the United Methodist Church? Can we become an affiliate church to the United Methodist Church, and thereby open more freedom? There are many such questions, but we lack answers. It is my hope that the commission can help us to find a better way forward.

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