This is what I propose, and I know it will be unpopular... it is certainly risky:[GC = General Conference]
I propose that we take the approach to interfaith dialogue used by the United Church of Canada: We take all the reconciling groups and all the confessing groups, and put them together on some projects that have nothing to do with the issue of homosexuality. We declare a moratorium on talking about the issue of homosexuality for a period of around ten years, but we keep the reconciling and confessing groups in constant contact and cooperation on these joint projects (about, let's say, poverty - something they can agree on). In the meantime, we do not expel any clergy for their sexual orientation/activity, but nor do we attempt to change the discipline. (Thus, the confessing movement must halt their attempts to remove clergy, but the reconciling movement must halt their attempts to get clergy accepted or even bring up the issue at GC. VERY hard for both sides, I imagine.)
Then, after ten years of working together closely and intimately, we get the reconciling groups and confessing groups together to begin a dialogue about the issue of homosexuality. By this time, they will have built relationships of trust, and perhaps even Christian love. They will no longer be talking across a great divide, but discussing something as friends, who care about each other.
I'm not sure I support this suggestion, but I'm very intrigued.
In other news, her opening paragraph made me think of glacierscout talking about Episcopalianism:
It is somewhat interesting to predict what may happen to the UMC in the future. We have had splits and then rejoined in the past, over the issue of race segregation. Perhaps the church will split into "reconciling" and "confessing" branches, and then will rejoin someday down the road. Or perhaps brother Steve is correct, and the UMC will gradually be taken over by the more "confessing" groups, and the "progressives" will leave the UMC and join other more inclusive denominations. Or perhaps we will simply continue in this diverse state for awhile, where we have large numbers on various sides of various issues, and we all keep discussing things and trying to learn and grow and achieve unity in our diversity. It is a funny aspect of Methodism, that we are historically prone to schism. I wonder if it is partly because we are not confessional/creedal - from our Wesleyan heritage, we allow for diversity of belief within our church. It is a strength theologically, but perhaps a weakness organizationally? Would the church as a whole, across the world, be weaker or stronger if we were all segregated into smaller and smaller groups, which only contain people who agree with each other about everything? Would we stop being forced to wrestle and struggle with the grey areas in scripture and in our faith? Would we become increasingly unable to hear the Spirit speaking to us in the present, alive in the world, in the modern prophets, in each other?