Post-Way Forward Gathering
of United Methodist Scholars

Anne Burkholder
Associate Dean of Methodist Studies
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Elder, Florida Annual Conference

Implications and Consequences of the Process and Results of the Delegate Counts for the 2020 General Conference  

This presentation will explore the implications of US general conference delegate elections following the Special Session of the General Conference for a complex range of consequences that include but extend far beyond simply whether the traditionalist plan can be overturned.

Kevin M. Carnahan
Professor of Philosophy and Religion
Central Methodist University
Layperson, Missouri Annual Conference

Reading the Bible on Slavery and Homosexuality

There are similar patterns in the Christian use of scripture in the run up to the Civil War and in the current clash over sexuality; and there are good reasons to move beyond simple readings of scripture in each case.

Robert Allan Hill
Dean of Marsh Chapel, Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology
Boston University
Elder, Upper New York Annual Conference

No Male and Female

This presentation draws on the Wesley Quadrilateral to reflect on Galatians 3:26-28 in light of the United Methodist Church’s conflict concerning inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons.

Maria A. Dixon Hall
Senior Advisor to the Provost, Cultural Intelligence Initiatives
Southern Methodist University
Deacon, North Texas Annual Conference

Power, Resistance, and Organizational Politics: The Need to Disrupt the Orthodoxy of the Progressive Clerical Voice to Cultivate Sustainable Transformative Innovation

This presentation explores how traditional frames of power in UMC clerical structure undermine social justice progress.

Jodie L. Lyon
Senior Lecturer in Religion
University of Georgia
Layperson, North Georgia Annual Conference

Changing Minds by Changing Ethical Frameworks: Thinking Teleologically About Sex

Most Christians are taught to view the Bible as a sexual rulebook, but I argue that reorienting our ethical framework from a rule-based to a goal-oriented system can move us beyond the "clobber passages," creating LGBTQIA+-inclusive Christian communities.

O. Wesley Allen, Jr.
Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics
Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Indiana Annual Conference


This presentation contextualizes concerns about the United Methodist Church splitting over the just inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons within a wider theology of the unity of the universal church.

Sam Persons Parkes
Senior Pastor
Mary Esther UMC
Elder, Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference

Am I My Sibling’s Keeper?: A Practical Guide to Preserving LGBTQIA+ Life

This presentation will examine risk factors for the health of LGBTQIA+ youth/young adults; explain how an affirming stance increases basic health factors; and outline actions individuals and churches can take to provide sanctuary and support to queer youth and young adults as disciples of Christ.

Amy Oden
Visiting Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality
Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University
Layperson, Oklahoma Annual Conference

Welcoming the Stranger

We will explore the rich tradition of Christian teachings and practices on hospitality that we can draw on as we engage each other across our differences of all kinds.

Michael G. Cartwright
Vice President for University Mission
University of Indianapolis
Elder, Indiana Annual Conference

Lessons from the Heartland after General Conference 2019

UM laity and clergy are rightly perplexed in the wake of GC 2019, but we should not set scripture and tradition aside. The way forward is to dare to "bring forth treasures old and new" from the storehouse (Matt. 13:52).

Cristian De La Rosa
Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology and Practice
Boston University
Elder, New England Annual Conference

Considerations of Nepantla  for Latinx United Methodists

This presentation notes the Nepantla experience for Latinx young people that inhabit the traditional religious cultures of our Hispanic congregations and manage within the diverse positioning of our academic and church communities affirming the inclusion of LGBTQIA+  communities.

Scott Moore
Director of Missional Excellence, Texas Annual Conference
Ph.D. Student, Our Lady of the Lake University
Elder, Texas Annual Conference

Individual Consideration and Transformational Leadership in a Post-Way-Forward Era

Scientific research and meta-analytic data show that leaders must defy previous leadership practices and engage the Queer Community on an individual level if they are to effectively lead and transform the United Methodist Church.

Ashley Boggan Dreff
Assistant Professor of Religion
High Point University
Layperson, Arkansas Annual Conference

The New Morality: An Exploration of a Methodist Sexual Ethic

In 1963, Methodist agencies embraced the "new morality" as their sexual ethic; in 1968, Good News Magazine began a campaign against this ethic; and thus, in order to understand our current division we have to look at events in the 1960s and not just those after 1972.

Jennifer Quigley
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, Louisville Postdoctoral Fellow
Drew University
Elder, West Ohio Annual Conference

Teaching about Gender and Sexuality in the Bible: Reflections from a Seminary Classroom for Congregations

This session shares lesson plans, bibliography, and pedagogical reflections and invites conversation around the question, “What pedagogy and theology inform how we might teach the Bible in diverse ministry contexts?”

Jonathan LeMaster-Smith
Affiliate Faculty, Sioux Falls Seminary
Adjunct Faculty, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Layperson, Western North Carolina Annual Conference

The Rural Church in Connection after General Conference 2019

As rural churches are often left out of the conversation or assumed monolithic in their opinion, this presentation suggests a focus on connecting rural communities with the greater church through education, economics, and holy conferencing.

William B. Lawrence
Professor Emeritus of American Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Research Fellow, Duke Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition
Elder, North Texas Annual Conference

FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE: Four Words, Three Rules, Two Standards, One Grace

In five decades of an obsession with homosexuality, The United Methodist Church has neglected its theological foundations, beginning with four words, which threatened three General Rules, violated two  Doctrinal Standards, and overlooked the one indivisible grace of Jesus Christ.

Sarah Heaner
Lancaster Professor in the Werner Chair of Theology
Methodist Theological School of Ohio
Elder, North Texas Annual Conference

Not Giving Up on the Authority of Scripture

Too often issues are framed by traditionalists to cast progressives as not recognizing the authority of scripture; this presentation will argue for a progressive approach to the authority of scripture in relation to LGBTQIA+ issues.

Robert Foster
Lecturer in Religion and New Testament
University of Georgia
Layperson, North Georgia

Faithful to Our Holy God:
Leviticus, Holiness, and Violating Scripture's Commands

This presentation discusses how to address the explicit commands against gay sex in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as we also ground our support of our LGBTQIA+ members and pursuit of Wesleyan holiness on the foundation of the Old Testament and Christian Scripture.

Darryl W. Stephens
Director, United Methodist Studies
Lancaster Theological Seminary
Deacon, Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference 

United Methodism at the End of White Christian America

Striving to be a “worldwide” church presents systemic challenges to UMC polity and unity revealed through demographic shifts that frame the battle over LGBTQIA+ rights within a larger narrative of increased internationalization in the UMC.

Alyce M. McKenzie
Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship; Director, The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence
Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Elder, North Texas Annual Conference

Preaching to a Split Church:
Homiletical Strategies that Promote Inclusion in a Polarized Context

This presentation will explore the question: What strategic homiletical choices guide a preacher who favors full inclusion, but who preaches in the context of a split congregation? This includes choices of texts and themes, imagery and story, and sermonic form for specific sermons, as well as delivery style.

Jason Byasse
Butler Professor of Homiletics & Biblical Hermeneutics
Vancouver School of Theology
Western North Carolina Annual Conference

All the Wrong People

Mainline churches often talk about inclusion, and yet become more homogenous. What if, instead, we talk about Jesus, and see what sort of unexpected people Jesus draws to himself?

Jane Ellen Nickell
Chaplain and Religious Studies Faculty Member
Allegheny College
West Virginia Annual Conference

Defining Moments: Resistance to Changing Social Structures

Using the theory of Pierre Bourdieu and looking also at race and gender, this presentation links resistance to LGBTQ inclusion to the underlying sense of threat that traditionalists experience when social structures that define us undergo significant change.

Alex Tracy
Elder, South Georgia Annual Conference

Preaching Outside the Lines for LGBTQ+ Equality

Clergy are trained and conditioned in the UMC to preach starting with the text and running through the Quadrilateral; but when preaching for LGBTQ+ equality, a theology of the reign of God is a better driver of the sermon process.

Mark A. Chancey
Professor of Religious Studies
Southern Methodist University
Layperson, North Texas Annual Conference

Romans 1:26-31

This presentation examines the function of Romans 1:26-31 in the larger context of Romans, different understandings and types of same-sex sexual activity and relationships in the Greco-Roman world, and the exegetical and hermeneutical difficulties posed by the passage.

Rolf Nolasco
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Layperson, Northern Illinois Annual Conference

Resisting Sacred Violence through Contemplative Practice and Positive Mimesis

The presentation asks the question: What psycho-spiritual practices (of body, mind, and spirit) might facilitate resistance against the deployment of sacred violence against the LGBTQ+ community?

Kendall Soulen
Professor of Systematic Theology
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Elder, Virginia Annual Conference

Christian Marriage is a School of Holiness: A Scriptural and Theological Case for Same-Sex Marriage

A succinct statement of the theological case in favor of same-sex marriage and a reply to some common objections.

Natalya Cherry
Assistant Professor in Methodist Studies and Theology
Brite Divinity School
Elder, Susquehanna Annual Conference

Bend it Like Buttigieg: Reclaiming United Methodist “Values”

Reclaiming rather than reinventing UM values moving forward, as witnesses, scholars, and DCAs reveal that it was fear-mongering, not biblical/Wesleyan family values, that motivated the GC1972 homophobic response to the General Rules-rooted, carefully prepared Social Principles as originally proposed.

Hilde Marie Movafagh
The United Methodist Theological Seminary, Oslo, Norway;
The Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo, Norway
Elder, Norway Annual Conference

The Iron Curtain is Back:
UMC in Europe in the Aftermath of General Conference 2019

An oversight over the divided situation and possible ways to proceed in Europe concerning human sexuality, where the division follows the same line as the old iron curtain, and where cultural differences are huge.

Robin W. Lovin
University Professor of Ethics Emeritus
Southern Methodist University
Elder, North Texas Annual Conference

What Do We Say When Nobody Is Listening?

The church must respond to changes in media, culture, and politics that have blunted the Christian message and sharpened the divisions in society.

Ted A. Campbell
Professor of Church History
Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Elder, Texas Annual Conference

My Grandmothers' (United) Methodist Church

Before 1972 the United Methodist Church had no explicit statements or restrictions concerning homosexuality. This presentation proposes that when a denomination makes no statements or condemnations on an issue, local congregations and annual conferences are free to make their own decisions about issues like marriages or ordinations of gay and lesbian people.

Michelle Morris
Lead Equipper
Center for Vitality, Arkansas Annual Conference
Elder, Arkansas Annual Conference

Holy Train Wreck: Divine Purpose in Inconsistent Scripture

Using contradictions, translation issues, and poor grammar examples from the Bible, Michelle Morris will make the case that the mess in the Bible reveals God's divine purpose of driving us to need God and to need each other.

Cheryl Anderson
Professor of Old Testament
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Elder, Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference

More Than Meets the Eye:
Why How We Read the Bible Deserves More Attention

This presentation will explain how the Bible itself can and should be read inclusively, and that such readings are consistent with the biblical witness and the loving nature of God.

Lovett Weems
Distinguished Professor Church Leadership Emeritus
Wesley Theological Seminary
Missouria Annual Conference

Methodism’s History of Rejection of General Conference Actions

This presentation identifies historical examples having nothing to do with homosexuality where clergy, laity, bishops, and annual conferences disobeyed General Conference legislation, showing that “rejection through actions” is a well-established response to divisive legislation in American Methodism.

Adam Ployd
Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology
Eden Theological Seminary
Deacon, West Virginia Annual Conference

What is Love? Augustine, the Church, and a New Approach to Sexual Ethics

Augustine (354-430AD) is often blamed as the source of everything bad in Christianity, but in this presentation we will explore how he might help us think about love in ways that enrich the progressive movement for justice and inclusion.

Michelle Whitlock
PhD Candidate
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Elder, Susquehanna Annual Conference

Breaking the Baptismal Covenant

What are the consequences when the community of faith refuses to marry and ordain the children (or adults) they promised to nurture in the faith as part of the baptismal covenant?