The Alternative Plan Task Force of the Korean Association of The United Methodist Church and its Central Committee met to discuss the 2019 Special General Conference and the future of the Korean United Methodist Church at the First Korean United Methodist Church in Chicago.
General Conference, the ultimate decision-making body of The United Methodist Church, is held every four years. This special session has been specifically called by the Council of Bishops and will be held Feb. 23-26, 2019, to address disagreements regarding human sexuality in the denomination.
The Commission on a Way Forward consists of 32 members appointed by the Council of Bishops, and recently proposed three plans to discuss at the special conference. The three plans are the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan and the Traditional Plan.
In addition, the Council of Bishops has asked the Judicial Council, the highest court of the denomination, to decide whether the plans would violate the church constitution as found in the Book of Discipline. The Judicial Council will meet Oct. 23-26, 2018 in Zurich. The special General Conference is expected to consider as legislation the three plans, including those provisions that would require a constitutional amendment.
The Korean Association decided to form an Alternative Plan Task Force to handle this issue during the Central Committee meeting held in October 2017. The Alternative Plan Task Force, which was newly organized during a gathering of the association held in April 2018, as well as the Central Committee and the executive committee recently held a joint meeting.
During the opening worship service of this meeting, the Rev. Hannah Ka said, “We must change our life’s value from doing to being. This means we respect each and every person in the body of Christ as a being of equal value before God.”
“Jesus was interested in a Samaritan woman, a leper, a blind man, a bleeding patient, a child of a Gentile woman, a sinner, a tax collector and Judas Iscariot,” said Ka.
“We have to realize that the thoughts of God are deeper and wider than our thoughts, and that our thoughts are only a part of God’s infinite will. Even though our life experiences, situations and colors of faith are different, we are to hear the word of God rather than to pay attention to human beings,” she concluded.
“There is a concern that the 2019 Special General Conference may be the beginning of a new conflict rather than a settlement and arrangement,” said the Rev. Paul H. Chang, executive director of the Korean Ministry Plan. “We, the church, should pray and work for the unity of the church, and the two extreme groups at both ends should concentrate on mission rather than division and separation.”
Myeong-rae Kim Lee, one of the leaders of the Korean American United Methodist Women and a member of the Way Forward Commission, recalled the history of the denomination. “In the 1800s, (U.S.) Methodism was divided into South and North due to slavery problems,” she said. “A great number of people were sacrificed in the Civil War. Even after that, there was a great conflict over the ordination of women, but now no one talks about slavery or the ordination of women.
“I hope that the Korean United Methodist Church, which has grown up as a fruit of the mission of The United Methodist Church, will now become a bridge of peace and unite the divisions of United Methodism.”
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