Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Recommended Reading: Post-GC 2019 Updates from Europe

As previously reported, the actions of General Conference 2019 raised questions about the future for United Methodists in Germany, the Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area as a whole, and Denmark and Norway specifically within the Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area. All of these areas have created groups to generate proposals for the future of the United Methodist Church and ministries with and by LGBTQ persons in these countries.

While the total number of United Methodists in these areas is small, these efforts are significant, as they show United Methodists from several cultural settings other than the US trying to grapple with how to balance affirmation of LGBTQ persons by the majority and preserving unity among United Methodists of a variety of opinions.

Since most annual conferences in those areas have now met for 2019, some updates on the processes underway in these areas are available.

All three German annual conferences discussed the results of General Conference 2019 and affirmed the work of the roundtable that the Germany Episcopal Area church leadership council created to explore possible futures for the UMC in Germany. News articles (in German) on those discussions are available for the East Germany, South Germany, and North Germany annual conferences.

The roundtable met for a second time in July and identified three possible structural approaches to differences of opinion over the place of LGBTQ persons in the church. Two would re-organize the Germany Central Conference to create separate organizations within the central conference for conservative churches. All three would allow progressive German Methodists to ordain LGBTQ persons and perform gay weddings. A report and news article (both in German) provide details.

Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area
Reflections by Bishop Christian Alsted (in English) written after most annual conferences in his episcopal area give a good sense of the variety of responses to GC2019 in the Nordic and Baltic Area. They also provide some details on specific actions undertaken by Denmark and Norway.

The Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area will have its own roundtable process to discern its future, with a report to be given at the 2021 Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference. An update on the roundtable (in English) included information on participants and process. An update from the UMC in Norway (in Norwegian) provides a few more details on process.

In a series of votes, the annual conference in Denmark showed overwhelming support for the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the church. The Danish annual conference also approved creating a commission that will bring suggestions to the 2021 Denmark Annual Conference about how to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. A report about the 2019 annual conference (in Danish) provides details.

Despite notable differences in opinion, the Norway Annual Conference used a consensus decision-making process to adopt a consensus proposal that called for full inclusion of LGBTQ persons, respect for the minority of Norwegian United Methodists with differing views on this matter, and as much continued unity as possible. A working group of eight people will develop a report for next year's annual conference, laying out proposed actions to achieve these goals. A report on the annual conference (in English) provides more details, as do an announcement (in Norwegian) of those on the working group and a letter from the cabinet (in Norwegian) issued after the annual conference.

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