Smothers Named to Commission on a Way Forward


Council of Bishops Names 32 Commission Members

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has announced the membership of the Commission on a Way Forward. Rev. Jasmine Smothers of the North Georgia Conference is among the 32 members, made up of United Methodists from around the world. 

"After three months of diligent and prayerful discernment, we have selected 8 bishops, 11 laity, 12 elders and 1 deacon to serve on the Commission," said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops. "This group is representative of our theological diversity."

Ough said the makeup of the 32-member commission is roughly comparable to U.S. and Central Conference membership. Seven of the members (Jorge Acevedo, Tom Berlin, Jessica Lagrone, Julie Hager Love, Bishop Deborah Wallace-Padgett, Alice Williams, and Rev. Smothers) are from the Southeastern Jurisdiction. 

All of the members of the Commission have already indicated their willingness and availability to serve. The team of moderators --  Bishop Ken Carter, Bishop Sandra Steiner-Ball and Bishop David Yemba -- will soon convene the Commission to begin to organize their work and finalize their meeting schedule.

The Commission's mission is to  "bring together persons deeply committed to the future(s) of The United Methodist Church, with an openness to developing new relationships with each other and exploring the potential future(s) of our denomination in light of General Conference and subsequent annual, jurisdictional and central conference actions." 

The 2016 General Conference gave a specific mandate to the Council of Bishops to lead The United Methodist Church in discerning and proposing a way forward through the present impasse related to human sexuality and the consequent questions about unity and covenant. 

The Commission is a group appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the Council in fulfilling this mandate. As such, the Council has appointed bishops from across the global connection to serve on the Commission alongside laity and clergy. While clergy and laity will vote at a General Conference on these matters, the bishops have the responsibility to lead the church. Thus, the Commission is designed to inform the Council’s leadership of the General Conference. After hearing concerns that the proposed composition did not include enough laity, three additional laypersons were added from the original pool of more than 300 nominees.

At their fall meeting (October 30 – November 2), the Council will make a decision about a called General Conference and will review a plan to conduct additional and complementary work in annual conferences designed to broaden the conversation with hundreds of lay and clergy members.

The members of the Commission are:


Jorge Acevedo
USA, Florida, elder, male

Brian Adkins
USA, California, elder, male

Jacques Umembudi Akasa
Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, laity, male

Tom Berlin
USA, Virginia, elder, male

Matt Berryman
USA, Illinois, laity, male

Helen Cunanan
Philippines, elder, female

David Field
Europe, Switzerland, laity, male

Ciriaco Francisco
Philippines, bishop, male

Grant Hagiya
USA, California, bishop, male

Aka Dago-Akribi Hortense
Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, laity, female

Scott Johnson
USA, New York, laity, male

Jessica Lagrone
USA, Kentucky, elder, female 

Thomas Lambrecht
USA, Texas, elder, male

Myungae Kim Lee
USA, New York, laity, female

Julie Hager Love
USA, Kentucky, deacon, female

Mazvita Machinga
Africa, Zimbabwe, laity, female

Patricia Miller
USA, Indiana, laity, female

Mande Guy Muyombo
Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, elder, male

Eben Nhiwatiwa
Africa, Zimbabwe, bishop, male

Dave Nuckols
USA, Minnesota, laity, male

Casey Langley Orr
USA, Texas, elder, female 

Gregory Palmer
USA, Ohio, bishop, male

Donna Pritchard
USA, Oregon, elder, female

Tom Salsgiver
USA, Pennsylvania, elder, male 

Robert Schnase
USA, Texas, bishop, male

Jasmine Rose Smothers
USA, Georgia, elder, female

Leah Taylor
USA, Texas, laity, female

Deborah Wallace-Padgett
USA, Alabama, bishop, female

Rosemarie Wenner
Europe, Germany, bishop, female

Alice Williams
USA, Florida, laity, female

John Wesley Yohanna
Africa, Nigeria, bishop, male

Alfiado S. Zunguza
Africa, Mozambique, elder, male


Sandra Steiner Ball
USA, West Virginia, bishop, female

Kenneth Carter
USA, Florida, bishop, male

David Yemba
Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, bishop, male