At our April Bi-District Clergy meeting, Tom Berlin energized the crowd with his update on the Way Forward Commission. Tom was uncharacteristically upbeat about the future of the denomination, saying that he has hope for the first time in a long time. The process that the Commission is going through fascinated me. They started by building relationships within the Commission. At meals, they intentionally sit with people they do not know, getting to know each other as persons, rather than as “representatives of positions.” Rather than getting stuck, like lava, in positions formed long ago, they are finding new channels through the divisions that have “stuck” us Methodists for so long. Tom says that he is hopeful that we can “refound” the United Methodist Church—going back to our scriptural and Wesleyan roots, but writing a new story about who we are on a clean sheet of paper.
When the Commission met in DC recently, Tom invited a historian from his congregation to organize a “leadership tour” of DC, visiting ...