The Task Force on Human Sexuality has been hard at work studying a variety of issues related to gender identity and sexual orientation. This group was authorized in July 2015 by the US National Conference, and was appointed in October 2015 by the Executive Leadership Team.
Their purpose was to take a comprehensive, biblical look at the many aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation. The 2015 US National Conference dealt with issues involving same-sex marriage, but it was clear that many other issues loomed on the horizon. Rather than deal with issues in a piecemeal way as they arose—perhaps a new issue at every National Conference—it made sense to take a more comprehensive approach which would serve the United Brethren Church well into the future. We wanted to avoid acting impulsively or out of a sense of fear in reaction to the issue of the moment.
Scope of the Task Force
The Task Force was asked to study such areas as these:
- A comprehensive and biblical view toward the many forms of sexual orientation and gender identity—over 50 such categories now, by some counts.
- Issues involving the recognition of marriages by churches and by the state.
- A fresh look at our current Discipline statements on family-related issues.
- Legal protections for pastors and churches regarding such areas as same-sex marriages, the use and renting of church facilities, and employment.
- Biblical attitudes and approaches UB members and churches should take.
- Any recommended statements to include in the Discipline as early as 2017.
- Any recommended revisions to the Pastoral Ministry Handbook.
- Ramifications for Huntington University.
Task Force Members
These are the persons appointed by the Executive Leadership Team to the Task Force on Human Sexuality:
- Dr. Luke Fetters (right) is the chairperson. Luke is professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University, an ordained United Brethren minister, and a former UB missionary, pastor, and church planter.
- Dr. Anthony Blair, president of Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, Pa. Anthony is an ordained United Brethren minister, and former UB pastor, church planter, and superintendent.
- Matt McKeown, associate pastor of First UB church in Holly Hill, Fla., with a degree in Christian counseling.
- Joni Michaud, an attorney practicing in the areas of criminal law, family law, and immigration law. A graduate of Huntington University and Notre Dame Law School, Joni is a member of Pleasant Valley UB church in Lake Odessa, Mich., and was a delegate to the 2015 US National Conference.
- Beth Pictor, a counselor from Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind. Beth graduated from Huntington University in 2015 with a Masters in Counseling.
- Andy Sikora, pastor of Renew Communities, a UB church in Berea, Ohio, which he started in 2011. Andy graduated from Huntington University in 2001, was ordained in 2014, and is a current member of the Executive Leadership Team.
- Mark Vincenti, youth pastor of College Park UB church in Huntington, Ind. Mark graduated from Huntington University in 1999, and served 11 years as youth pastor of King Street Church (Chambersburg, Pa.) before coming to College Park. He was ordained in 2015.
- Trevor Maggart, a 2015 graduate of Huntington University, is currently associate pastor of The Pointe in Fort Wayne, Ind.
- The Task Force held its first face-to-face meeting March 3, 2016. At that meeting, they defined the task before them, defined their roles, and assigned working groups.
- A second meeting was held May 24, during which working groups presented their reports.
- A third meeting was held June 9, 2016.
- A fourth meeting is scheduled for September 22, 2016.
- The Task Force will present proposals to the October 17-18, 2016, meeting of the Executive Leadership Team, and then meet in November to discuss feedback from the ELT.
- The current plan is to meet in early 2017, if needed, to finalize their work before it is presented in regional gatherings prior to the 2017 US National Conference.