Conversations On a Way Forward—extended learning opportunity

February 08, 2018

Register here

The School for Lay Ministry Commission is once again excited to offer an Extended Learning Opportunitie at Cornell College on Saturday, March 10, 2018 titled, "Conversations on a Way Forward. " The instructor is Kristine Rodney, a former School for Lay Ministry graduate and training by National United Methodist Women.

Class Description—Conversations on a Way Forward 

Nothing is more powerful than a conversation. In a real conversation, both parties show up. They bring their attention to the present moment and to what is being said. A conversation is something that happens between people. It is not just a series of speeches, but an engagement in which we learn about someone else’s experience and develop and reflect on our own thoughts and perspectives. Conversations can help us see the world through the lens of a broadened perspective. 

The Commission on a Way Forward has been engaging in a conversation as it prepares a report to come to the Special Session of General Conference in 2019. 

Differences of belief and opinion about how The United Methodist Church should include, minister to and treat our LGBTQ members have been a source of conflict since the first language addressing homosexuality was added to The Book of Discipline in 1972. Now, some have begun to say that they can no longer be part of a denomination that they see as discriminating against LGBTQ members and causing them harm. Others have begun to say that they can no longer be part of a denomination that includes what they consider to be biblically appropriate positions in The Book of Discipline but that the church does not seem to live by. The conflict about this is intense, deeply felt and very personal as we think about how we read and understand the Bible, how we expect our family and friends and ourselves to be treated, and how the church can handle our differences with love, honoring each other. 

In United Methodism, policy and doctrine is decided in Conferences, comprised 50/50 of lay/clergy. While we look to bishops and clergy for wisdom and discernment, as laity we also have wisdom and discernment to share. We have expertise in a variety of areas. Science, psychology, sociology, history, ethics, the Bible and the arts all have contributions to make. 

In this class, we will participate in conversations to bring our members together to share our wisdom, observations, aspirations and questions as the church prepares for the special session. We will be acknowledging the existence of different viewpoints and asking: How should we treat each other within the church in the face of this conflict? We will also be talking about our preferred future for our church. How might we faithfully stay together or divide? It is our hope that members will express their views to their pastors and congregations, to the members of their General Conference delegation and to their bishops. 

As members of The United Methodist Church we have wisdom and experience to share that is born from working together amidst differences for many years. We have seen conflicts resolved well and conflicts resolved poorly. We have families that have stayed close and families that have pulled apart. The church needs your prayers, your wisdom and your willingness to engage. Please say “yes” to participating in conversation and finding ways to speak your mind and heart as we journey together. 

We don’t anticipate a pre-class reading assignment. We will, however, have materials for the participants to take with them after class.

Continuing Education Units are available for those needing one.

Advanced classes are held at Cornell College, 600 First Street SW in the Thomas Commons building. That address is 810 Commons Circle SW. You can check Cornell’s website at or for the location of the specific addresses if you are not acquainted with the Mt. Vernon area. Click here for a campus map.

Registration begins at 8 am Saturday morning; opening devotions at 9 am with classes starting at 9:15 and you will finish up at 5 pm. Saturday lunches, which is part of your tuition, will be available. As usual, you are invited to eat dinner with the SLM students at a cost of approximately $9 per person.

Should you need lodging, a list of lodging locations in the Mt. Vernon area along with the Parking Permit you will need when you park at Cornell Campus are posted on the SLM website at this link: For more information, contact Barb Mann 515-974-8905