First Church Forward:
We welcome, celebrate, and embrace ALL.
In the wake of the recent called Special Session of the General Conference, FUMCFW keeps its congregation up to date via this page. The Special Session was called to vote on “A Way Forward” for the United Methodist Church regarding controversy over the language of The United Methodist Book of Discipline Book of Discipline concerning its ban on same-gender weddings and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. Here you’ll find relevant news, announcements, videos, blog posts, resources and insightful and unifying comments from all walks of our faith community as we continue to define ourselves by our center, Jesus Christ, rather than our boundaries.
Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor explains how the church from its earliest times has wrestled with scriptural and theological questions.
If you missed the March 3 info session regarding the action of the Special Session of the General Conference, watch it here, complete with unedited congregational questions and answers.
During the Called General Conference Senior Pastor Dr. Tim Bruster was interviewed each day — on Day 1, prior to the beginning of the conference, at the end of Day 2, and at the conclusion of the Conference with CTC Bishop Mike Lowry.
Starting tomorrow, February 23, our elected United Methodist delegates along with all of our Bishops will gather in St. Louis, Missouri, for a called special session of General Conference, which will be the culmination of the “Way Forward” process begun at the 2016 General Conference.
“The list is long of things the church has struggled with before,” Says Dr. Tim Bruster as he puts the coming Called General Conference into the context of Methodist history.
Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the Special Session of the General Conference in February 2019. Here’s how the Council of Bishops arrived at this decision.
The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
In today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reporter Hanaa Tameez’s article, “United Methodists face vote on LGBTQ issues. Will it rip the church apart?” quotes our own Dr. Tim Bruster along with several other area clergy and church members regarding the upcoming Called General Conference.
March 3, 2019 Called General Conference Info Session with Q&A
Dr. Tim Bruster’s Motion at Called General Conference 2019
Near the end of the conference, Dr. Bruster made a motion to send the Traditionalist Plan back to Judicial Council for a ruling on its constitutionality.
March 3, 2019: Traditional Worship Sermon “Jesus’ Transfiguration”
For a deeper understanding of the biblical and scriptural connotations around the issues at hand, Dr. Bruster’s sermon on March 3 illuminated this context regarding the action of the Special Session of the General Conference.
March 3, 2019: Faith Like a Child “Kermit and Gracie”
Pre-GC19 Reflections from Dr. Tim Bruster, CTC Delegation Lead
Dr. Tim Bruster Reflects on a “Tough and Painful” Day 2 of GC19
Bishop Lowry and Dr. Tim Bruster Wrap Up GC19
Dr. Tim Bruster, senior pastor at FUMC Fort Worth and the lead clergy delegate from the Central Texas Conference UMC to General Conference 2016, was chosen by the body of General Council to serve as the first alternate to the UMC Judicial Council.
Watch this space for upcoming info sessions, listening posts, and small group meetings.
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Organization: The Church as Connection (from umc.org)
Terms: General Conference, Jurisdictional Conferences, Central Conferences, Annual Conferences, Districts, Charge Conferences and Local Churches
United Methodist leaders often speak of the denomination as “the connection.” This concept has been central to Methodism from its beginning.
The United Methodist structure and organization began as a means of accomplishing the mission of spreading scriptural holiness. Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, recognized the need for an organized system of communication and accountability and developed what he called the “connexion,” a network of classes, societies, and annual conferences.
Today, our denomination continues to be organized in a “connectional” system, which “enables us to carry out our mission in unity and strength” (Book of Discipline, ¶ 701). Every local church is linked to an interconnected network of organizations that join together in mission and ministry, allowing us to accomplish far more than any one local church or person could alone.
Within the connectional structure of The United Methodist Church, conferences provide the primary groupings of people and churches for discernment and decision-making. Wesley described Christian conferencing as a spiritual discipline through which God’s grace may be revealed. At every level of the connection, church leaders and members come together in conversation, or conferencing, to discuss important issues and discover God’s will for the church. The word, conference, thus refers to both the assembly and organization of people as well as the process of discerning God’s call together.
As the primary legislative body, General Conference is the only entity with the authority to speak on behalf of the entire United Methodist Church. The General Conference meets every four years to consider the business and mission of the church. An equal number of lay and clergy delegates are elected from United Methodist conferences around the world to decide matters of policy and procedure for the denomination. Learn more.
There are five geographic jurisdictions, or regions, in the United States, which are comprised of eight to 15 annual conferences each. Learn more.
In Africa, Europe and the Philippines, there are seven geographical regions, called central conferences, each of which is comprised of annual conferences and divided into several episcopal areas. Learn more.
The annual conference is a geographical entity, an organizational body (made up of elected lay and clergy members), and a yearly meeting. It is the fundamental body of the church (Book of Discipline, ¶ 11). Learn more.
Each local church is part of a district, which is an administrative grouping of churches in a geographic area. Learn more.
Charge Conferences and Local Churches
As the visible presence of the body of Christ, the local church is the place where members grow in faith and discipleship, putting their faith into action through ministry in the world. Learn more.
Constitutional Structure (from umc.org)
Terms: General Conference, Council of Bishops, Judicial Council
The United Methodist Church does not have a central headquarters or a single executive leader. Duties are divided among bodies that include the General Conference, the Council of Bishops and the Judicial Council. Each of these entities is required by our Constitution, a foundational document, to be part of our structure, and plays a significant role in the life of the church.
The General Conference, the primary legislative body of The United Methodist Church, is the only body that speaks officially for the church. Meeting once every four years to determine legislation affecting connectional matters, it is composed of no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,000 delegates.
Working within the boundaries of the Church Constitution and General Rules, the General Conference defines and fixes the conditions, privileges and duties of church membership; the powers and duties of elders, deacons, diaconal ministers and local pastors; and the powers and duties of annual conferences, missionary conferences, charge conferences and congregational meetings. It authorizes the organization, promotion and administrative work of the church. The General Conference also defines the powers and duties of the episcopacy, authorizes the official hymnal and book of worship, provides a judicial system and procedures, initiates and directs all connectional enterprises of the church and enacts other legislation for the operation of the church. Learn more.
Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops gives general oversight of the ministry and mission of the church and spiritual leadership to the entire church connection. Composed of all active and retired bishops, the council meets as a group at least once a year.
Bishops are elected by Jurisdictional Conferences and assigned to a particular area, made up of one or more annual conferences. Each bishop provides oversight of the ministry and mission of annual conferences in his or her area and appoints all clergy to their places of service.
Through its Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, the council builds and maintains ties with other Christian denominations as well as other faith groups. Learn more.
As the denomination’s highest judicial body or “court,” the Judicial Council’s nine members, made up of laity and clergy, are elected by the General Conference and normally meet twice a year to consider whether actions of the various church bodies adhere to the constitution and follow the rules outlined in the Book of Discipline.
Their cases are generally referred to them by action of the Council of Bishops, the annual conferences or the General Conference. According to the Constitution, decisions of the Judicial Council are final (Paragraph 57, Article III). Learn more.
“A Speech Against” Blog by Adam Hamilton
“A way backwards: winning the battle, losing the church” Blog by Adam Hamilton
A New United Methodism? Blog by Adam Hamilton
“Methodism Began as a Spiritual Movement” Blog by Diana Butler Bass
Voices of Our Congregation
For what it's worth: if the vote is to preserve the status quo, our family isn't going anywhere. Because not every great player makes it into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and sometimes big ideas take time to gain traction. FUMC is a big league hitter, and is in a position to influence others, and it would be beyond stupid not to use that platform to keep pushing. So we stay put, and we keep working, and we rejoice in the fact that we have found a place that not only doesn't think "social justice" are dirty words but truly embraces the idea that THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT.
As a Methodist, I feel like I have a voice. And a shot. A chance to move things forward. Words on the page, or on a Web site, CAN change, and I can be a change instrument. What a blessing.
What you propose to tell the kids is not only consistent with the message we have provided regarding the immediate issue but with what we have taught them all along. The Christian mandate is to love. When in doubt, default to that. If someone professing to be a Christian advocates hate or intolerance, feel free to stand up for your faith: WWJD? NOT, in fact, THAT. But love them. Recognize issues with their actions, but fight the urge to dismiss the person.
It makes me beyond proud that we are not afraid to say, "This maybe isn't so black and white."
I think our church reflects the diverse groups that I envision gathered at Jesus’ feet. People who came to hear the word of God, and yield to the command to go out and be His people in the world.
I heard it said that FUMCFW’s umbrella IS large enough to include all of God’s children. My experience throughout the various groups of activity within our church reflects this attitude to be truth.
I feel FUMCFW is an answer to our family’s prayer for a church that would embrace, include and be tolerant of our diverse loved ones. I believe we are a church that does not hide from change but rather works to find solutions that starts with God as our center.
If things remain the same at First, then it just carries on as we work to change hearts.
Thank you, Dr. Bruster, for being a voice in this wilderness.
Thank you for representing our highest and best.
I am grieved about General Conference and am very appreciative of your sharing your feelings and perspective and for your work on this. I so appreciate your compassionate and honest communication.
Thank you Tim for representing FUMCFW so well. I can’t help but feel everything will be alright. An unknown change has been set in motion, and faith overcomes the fear of the unknown. You and FUMC have my full support and gratitude.
With tears in my eyes, I want to thank you for your action, for your loving words to our church.
Dr. Bruster's words were very comforting following what was for me a very disappointing outcome at the conference. I also take comfort in Martin Luther King Jr's words, "It's always darkest right before the dawn.”
When Mark and Kermit sang Rainbow Connection, there were tears from the choir members. I wish you could have seen how you touched the congregation today. Know that your leadership means everything to the hearts of the people of the church.
Dr. Bruster, I am unable to fully express to you how much I love and value your leadership. I am heartbroken over this decision but have full faith that you will continue to lead us in the right direction. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the good fight, based on sound biblical principles and true love of God. You are a blessing.
This is not the final word on the UMC. There are many pockets of progress in the UMC where inclusiveness and openness is a priority. Maybe we should support those as well, especially where it’s taken a good bit of courage and trust to take a stand. That is true for FUMCFW. It is especially true for 11:11.
Forty-eight hours ago, I was certain I would leave this church. But after learning more in this info session, I’m staying.
I will not leave the church but am heartsick with this move. The only way we can solve this is from within, not withdrawing.
This inspires me more than ever to fight to return to the Wesleyan spiritual movement to serve the outcast, the marginalized and the poor. Inclusiveness is something I love about our church! It is who we are meant to be as Methodists in my opinion.
I don’t agree with you, but now I think I could sit and have a cup of coffee with you and talk this over.
Tim Bruster we were very proud of everything you said. I know this is a difficult issue for the United Methodist Judicial Committee, but “bring all the little to me” means ALL. Of course, I have a simplistic understanding. The debate continues.
I believe love and compassion will prevail, and that like we say every Sunday, we should continue to go out and be God's people in the world. You are so very, very good at that and you inspire me to do the same.
Thinking of you and the rest of the leaders at the church. I know how impactful the recent vote is on your heart. As a church member we are thankful to have the leadership you provide and the love you give.