An informational meeting will be held on Sunday Feb. 17 at 11:30 am in the sanctuary to hear the three proposals to resolve the church’s decades-long division over homosexuality.
A Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church takes place February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. The Commission was authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity. More information can be found on the link below:
On Saturday, 23 February, 864 delegates and thousands of observers from across the world will gather in St. Louis, Missouri for the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The delegates will spend Saturday in prayer. That time of prayer will be in preparation for the three days of legislative session which will conclude on Tuesday, February 26th. The purpose of this Special Session of the General Conference is to consider legislation to change the official teaching of The United Methodist Church pertaining to human sexuality.
Although I spoke this past Sunday about this Special Session, some of our church members still have questions pertaining to what will take place at the General Conference. I have written the administrator of the California-Pacific Conference to ask the names of our representative delegates so that we may pray for them by name.
Rev. Michael Mumme of First UMC Austin, recently crafted a question and answer paper which you may find helpful.
Who Will Be There?
As previously stated, there will be hundreds of voting delegates representing United Methodists from around the globe. The breakdown of where they come from is as follows:
58% from conferences in the US;
30% from conferences in Africa; and
12% from conferences in the Philippines, Europe, and Eurasia and representatives from the concordat churches.
What To Expect?
It will take significant time to organize and adopt the rules that will govern the Conference, likely the entire first legislative day.
A vote to receive the Report from the Commission on A Way Forward. This Report outlines possible changes The United Methodist Church can adopt with regard to its stance on human sexuality.
The three plans discussed in the Commission’s report are: the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan.
The three plans detailed by the Report from the Commission on A Way Forward will not likely be considered by a clear up or down vote. Instead, each will be voted on by individually considering the 48 petitions that comprise parts of each plan, since each petition can only address one paragraph in the Discipline.
Additionally, the Conference will consider the 30 petitions submitted by individuals or groups. These include the Simple Plan, provisions for a “gracious exit,” and alternative approaches to accomplish aspects of the various plans under consideration.
What You Are Likely to Hear?
National media will cover General Conference.
Persons representing advocacy groups will seek to offer their spin to shape the narrative of what has occurred.
Some group will call for persons and churches to exit the denomination.
How Did We Get Here? – a short answer to a big question
In 1972, the “incompatibility” statement was adopted, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The UMC has debated this and related statements at every General Conference since 1972.
In 2016, the conflict over the place of LGBTQI persons in the ministry and life of The UMC led delegates at the 2016 General Conference to ask the Bishops to help the denomination find “a way forward” beyond this perpetual conflict. This led to the Commission on A Way Forward and their report which details three plans. More than 60% of the active bishops recommend the One Church Plan. This report and recommendation form the basis of work to be addressed at the 2019 General Conference.
Concluding Thoughts from Rev. Mumme
Pray for the delegates and the many staff and assisting persons at the Conference.
Pray for safe travel, especially for those traveling from continents away.
Pray for an openness to God’s Spirit at work among the delegates.
Pray for all who feel the weight of years of oppression and exclusion from our policies and from a lifetime of words not spoken in love.
Pray for A Way Forward.
Additional Information from Pastor Laura Brewster, NW Hills UMC Austin
There are a variety of ways to stay informed about the developments at the General Conference. Events will be live streamed at UMC.org/gc2019. Written reports contained in the Daily Christian Advocate will also be available at UMC.org/gc2019. Additionally, news stories will be available at UMNews.org and on Twitter @ResourceUMC.
We do not know if United Methodist policies will actually change as a result of the special General Conference that will begin on Sunday. As such, we do not know what changes may be in store for our local church. But we do know this: The God of grace, the God of mercy, the God of all creation, the God who freely offers love to all, will continue to abide with us. We need only to look to him for guidance, wisdom, strength and courage as we step into the future.
Grace and peace to you all, Wren Foster