The Study Commission on Doctrine (SCOD) for the 2007 through 2011 quadrennium is comprised of the following members: David Kendall, Chair; Linda Adams; David Bauer; Bruce Cromwell; Frank Kline, Secretary; Paul Livermore; Matthew Thomas; David Roller; and Denny Wayman.
The SCOD holds face-to-face meetings once each year as needed, and met on the following dates: March 10, 2008; March 10, 2009; and March 17, 2010.
In the 2007 Book of Discipline (4080A), the Study Commission on Doctrine is charged as follows: the “Study Commission on Doctrine shall serve the General Conference by studying theological and social issues facing the church, and make recommendations to the General Conference.”
During this quadrennium, the SCOD had several papers referred to it from the General Conference. In addition, there were several issues that members felt were important to consider. The following list of issues considered by the SCOD during this quadrennium is organized by the year in which they were introduced. Many issues have taken several years of prayer, thought, discussion and study. Following each topic is a brief description of any action SCOD took in relationship to the item. This report concludes with several appendices providing resource documents prepared by the SCOD over the quadrennium.
• Human Slavery
SCOD gave itself the assignment of developing an advocacy paper that identifies pertinent issues, raises awareness and identifies resources that can be used to address the issue in redemptive ways. The paper was reviewed by the commission and revised.
• The Language of Worship
The 2007 General Conference referred a resolution to the SCOD and the BOA concerning
paragraph 122 on “The Language of Worship.” The Commission amended the article as follows:
According to the Word of God and the custom of the early church, public worship and prayer and the administration of the sacraments should be in a language understood by the people.
In addition, the scriptural references to paragraph 122 were changed to read as follows: Nehemiah 8:5-8; I Corinthians 12-14.
The SCOD presented the revised paragraph 122 to the BOA, which then adopted the proposed changes. We commend this change to the 2011 General Conference for vote, and then to be sent to the World Conference for the referendum process.
• Divorce, Recovery after Divorce, Remarriage after Divorce, Refusal of Counsel
The SCOD prepared a draft of a new resolution on divorce for consideration. It was moved and seconded that the orientation and hermeneutic of the resolution be affirmed and that it be referred back to the author for revision with the discussion in mind. In addition, that the paper be included as part of the prefatory materials of the resolution for the benefit of the General Conference.
The SCOD’s work on this matter was subsequently approved by the BOA, per the 2011 resolutions process.
• The Openness of God
The SCOD gave itself an assignment of developing a paper. The paper was developed, discussed and revised. The issue of dissemination and final revision was turned over to the Board of Bishops, with a note that John Wesley’s comments on 1 Peter 1:2 in his Explanatory Notes on the New Testament might well be included in the Pastors’ and Church Leaders Manual.
• Same-Gender Intimacy, Unions, and Marraiges
Denny Wayman prepared a pastoral dialogue that illustrates responses to some of the most pressing questions. SCOD reviewed this document by reading it aloud as a dialogue. Several edits were suggested to clarify and expand the document. The paper was revised and reviewed by email. It was submitted to the Board of Bishops for dissemination through the Pastors’ and Church Leaders Manual.
An initial outline on eschatology was prepared. The SCOD asked the author to flesh out the
outline he presented with help from various and sundry experts in the field. • Issue of debt
The SCOD considered developing a draft statement on indebtedness, but took no action. • Worship
It was moved and seconded that SCOD sponsor a discussion forum on the website for a number of issues including worship.
• Ministerial education and preparation
SCOD will prepare document outlining the minimal theological/doctrinal understandings to help MEG boards know when someone is ready for ordination. They will forward this document to the Commission on Leadership Development to make sure that all areas are covered.
The Council of Bishops asked the SCOD for information about cremation. A paper from a former
SCOD member was reviewed. The SCOD will take responsibility for revision of the paper. • The sesquicentennial celebration
The Board of Bishops commissioned Dr. Howard A. Snyder to write and present a paper reflecting on the historical trajectories of the Free Methodist Church as it celebrates its sesquicentennial. SCOD reviewed Dr. Snyder’s paper, entitled “Free Methodism’s Living Witness: Sesquicentennial Reflections,” and made several suggestions for revision.
• A study of women in ministry in the FM Church
The SCOD recommended to the Board of Bishops that a replication of the original study completed in 1997 be conducted. SCOD anticipates this study’s completion by the 2011 General Conference.
• In response to a resolution to the 2011 General Conference concerning the use of alcohol, SCOD developed a teaching document, providing a rationale for the church’s current approach to this issue. This document will be made available on the denominational website and will inform processes of leadership development and membership processes.
Respectfully Submitted, Frank Kline, Secretary