Letter to Bishop Lewis from the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Fellowship.
The purpose of the following letter is to implore Bishop Lewis to support the inclusion of the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation on the Agenda of the Special Called General Conference. If you support these efforts, please consider writing to your Bishop in support of adding the Protocol as the 13th agenda item for the Special General Conference.
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis
PO Box 5606
Glen Allen, VA 23058
Dear Bishop Lewis,
I greet you in the name of our soon-coming Savior, Jesus Christ! To Him be all glory and honor!
I am writing you this day on behalf of the Evangelical Fellowship of Virginia and hope this finds you in peace. We have all been through a tempestuous season and the recent announcement of postponing General Conference for twelve more months has troubled many of us even further. We understand the practical reasoning for this delay in our world of Covid restrictions, but the decision by the Council of Bishops to not advance the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation” as soon as possible leaves us wondering – “Why?”
While there may still be hope among our Bishops for unity, the emergence of both the Liberation Methodist Connexion, in 2020, and the Global Methodist Church, in 2021, make it clear to Believers on all sides that it is time to move ahead with the Protocol. It is our belief that continuing in disunity for 18 months will only delay the inevitable division that is apparent in our denomination and lead to more pain in the Body of Christ.
We join with the Wesleyan Covenant Association in their urgent request that the Council of Bishops amend the agenda for the Special General Conference. We desire to see the Protocol added as the 13th agenda item. Since it includes dates that depended on an earlier vote, we ask the Council of Bishops to change the dates and offer it as new legislation in the same way the other 12 items are going forward. Many voices in our UMC are speaking out for the passage of the Protocol – including the Western Jurisdiction. In an 10/07/20 press release, Bishop Oliveto was quoted: “The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation offers a way forward to begin easing the five decades of pain created by the wounds inflicted on LGBTQ persons by the church.”
We sense a growing frustration among those whom you have called to be “a non-anxious presence” in the Virginia Conference. As our Resident Bishop, we ask you to advocate for the inclusion of the Protocol on the Special General Conference Agenda. You are our voice on the Council of Bishops so we reach out to you with the hope that God will use you to move us toward a resolution without litigation and congregation-by-congregation negotiation. Please accept this request in the same grace that it has been offered.
We pray this blessing over you, Bishop Lewis –
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Rev. John A. Bright
President, Evangelical Fellowship
Executive Committee Members:
Kay E. Wright
Rev. Gayle Thornberry
Rev. Brandon Nichols
Rev. Greg West
Rev. H. O. Tom Thomas, Ph. D.
Rev. Norman Ramsey
Rev. Edward Johnson
Rev. Thomas Shepherd
Rev. Bruce Johnson