Laity Missing From Commission For A Way Forward: An Open Letter from the Laity

All laity are urged to sign this letter, started by Irene DeMaris

Dear Bishop Ough and the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops:

On October 5th, it was announced that the executive committee of the Council of Bishops established a list of nominees to serve on the Commission for A Way Forward. We are excited that the church is one step closer to beginning the Commission, but we are disappointed and concerned with the lack of laity representation.

The group of 29 comprises 8 bishops, 13 clergy, and only 8 laity. While we celebrate that this group strives to represent the global connection and our theological diversity, we find it unacceptable that only 28% of the Commission are laity.

The church is made of laity and could not function without our volunteer hours, evangelism and missions, service on various committees, singing in choirs, financial contributions, and so much more. Our Book of Discipline implicitly states that there must be equal representation on various boards and agencies, committees, annual conferences, jurisdictional conferences, and at General Conference.

Beyond what is required, we bring the world outside of the church with us. We are teachers, scholars, therapists, theologians, writers, local pastors, activists, CPAs, lawyers, community organizers, church employees, and more. Some of us serve under the appointment of our bishops, others are general secretaries and staff of our church’s general boards and agencies, and a dedicated lay order of deaconesses and home missioners live out their call to lay ministry. A fresh set of eyes is needed to move the church forward, yet we are not being given the opportunity. Our voices are crucial in finding a way forward for our church. We must be offered an equal voice at the table of change.

Therefore, we implore you to rethink the balance of clergy and laity on the Commission for A Way Forward.

Only together can we create a way forward,

Irene R. DeMaris
Valley & Mountain Fellowship
Seattle, WA

Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck
Arch Street UMC
Philadelphia, PA

Kristin Kumpf
Mt. Vernon Place UMC
Washington, D.C.

Doug Palmer
Longs Peak UMC
Longmont, CO

Deaconess Laura Young
St. John's UMC
Lubbock, Texas

Home Missioner Kevin Nelson
First Schenectady UMC
Schenectady, NY

Chett Pritchett
Former Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Marietta, OH

Mary Lynn Ragan Clunn
Co-Convener, Affirmation
Alexandria, VA

Ryan Scott
Trinity UMC
Eugene, OR

Bill Mefford
Fig Tree Revolution
Arlington, VA

Tara Barnes
Tabernacle UMC
Binghamton, NY

Patrick Scriven
Director of Communications & Young People’s Ministries, Pacific Northwest Conference
Des Moines, WA

Emily Allen
General Conference delegate, California-Nevada Annual Conference
Mountain View, CA

Aaron Pazan
Bothell UMC
Bothell, WA

JP Patterson
Travis Park UMC
San Antonio, TX

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