A special committee, appointed by the Council of Bishops in the United Methodist Church, will soon present its final report which could lead the denomination to officially change its stance on biblical sexuality.
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward has been meeting since January 2017 after being charged by bishops to come up with a way to move Methodists forward on LGBT issues.
John Lomparis, with the Institute on Religion & Democracy, downplays the significance of the commission because the Council of Bishops will have the final say on the final report. He also predicts the most outspoken leaders of the Council have been pushing a more liberalizing agenda on sexuality.
"The fact is that the Council of Bishops often operate in a very liberal echo chamber," he complains, "where they really don't care much or don't understand how many conservative United Methodists are out there."
He also observes that the Way Forward Commission was "stacked" by design with liberal members, meaning it underrepresents conservative Methodists.
Although the Council of Bishops can take this final report and make their own proposal at the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, scheduled for next February, delegates can also make proposals.
Lomperis, himself a delegate, will be pushing for United Methodists to maintain their Biblical standards; have stronger accountability; and have generous exit ramps for congregations, bishops and others who say they cannot follow those standards.
He hopes that there will not be any "parliamentary dirty tricks or heavy-handed manipulation of the rules" by liberal bishops to limit consideration of alternatives to their preferred plan.