I suppose we really shouldn’t be too surprised. For after all, the Council of Bishops did say in their press release of May 4 that their promise to release all the plans of the Commission on the Way Forward “no later than July 8″ for the upcoming General Conference was simply “estimated.”
That particular date sort of stuck out, of course, because in the strangest of coincidences, July 8 was also the deadline for anyone else besides the bishops to submit their own proposals to that conference on how to keep the United Methodist Church from devouring itself over the sexuality issues that have long confronted us.
To be sure, it was a noble sentiment that drove the delay, for reflective of the wonderfully global nature of our denomination, the bishops did not want any one portion of the church to receive those plans before they could be translated for everyone else. According to one of the bishops, however, as of July 8 the “translation process is not yet complete.”
That’s where it seems a little odd to me, though. Two thousand words a day, for instance, is often used as a standard for estimating what the task of translation will actually take. For a 200-page book, thus, that comes out to about 25 days at a commercial rate, though of course if you put the resources behind it, it can go much faster. The newspaper in Houston, for instance, translates many of its articles into four different languages each and every day.
Nevertheless, I suppose we’ll simply have to wait a while longer to see the details of just what our episcopal leaders, emboldened by the massive 428-405 mandate they received back in 2016, believe can save the church.
In the meantime…would it be too much, however, to ask that those bishops who disagree with our current stance keep their vows and not continue to ordain and make superintendents out of individuals whose lifestyles are neither endorsed nor allowed for the clergy of our church?
If not, “it is estimated” that the next colossal collision in United Methodism will be “no later than” February 26-28, 2019, when we meet in St. Louis. For ready or not, our denominational day of decision really is coming fast upon us.