Bishop Carter: Unity can’t be at someone’s expense

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, reflects on the Commission on a Way Forward, reaction to the special 2019 General Conference and expectations for General Conference 2020. Video image courtesy of UM News.
Video image of Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, courtesy of UM News.

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter of the Florida Conference is president of the Council of Bishops and served as one of three moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward, the panel charged with finding ways through the denomination’s deep divide on homosexuality 

In a conversation with UM News, Carter reflected on his time on the commission, reaction to the special 2019 General Conference and expectations for General Conference 2020. 

Watch videos.

What does the Commission on a Way Forward mean to the church now?
“I think they did good work,” Carter said, but feels that it serves as a foundation for further work.

What do you wish the commission had done differently?
Carter expresses his wish that the commission had been able to agree on one plan, rather than three, to submit to General Conference 2019.

Reflecting on responses to the outcome of General Conference 2019
Carter notes that the close voting margins reveal a divide that isn’t aided by the denomination’s “winner take all” voting system.

Not “just a U.S. church or just an African church.”
In the wake of the passage of the Traditional Plan at General Conference 2019, many African United Methodists felt they were blamed. Carter addresses the challenges of being a global church.

On the role of a bishop in the current church climate
Carter said the need for bishops to promote unity is more important than ever in a denomination where deep divisions exist.

Will the Council of Bishops recommend further proposals?
Carter talks about the council’s desire to accompany, rather than control, conversations about the church’s future.

“General Conference is broken, but annual conferences are not.”
Carter suggests that it’s not possible to see the church as a clean split between traditionalist, centrist and progressive, since each annual conference, or regional body of the church, contains a variety of theological views.

On the U.S. annual conference elections
Carter observed what he calls a “generational shift in leadership” where an increasing number of young delegates were elected.


Read the accompanying story, Bishop reflects on journey to GC2020.


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