As you might know, delegates from United Methodist Churches across the globe are meeting today thru Tuesday evening in St. Louis. I’d like to speak to you briefly about those activities.
First, a little recent history . . .
At our most recent General Conference session in 2016, a special commission called The Commission on a Way Forward was tasked to bring a recommendation for a way to resolve the conflict that exists within our denomination. The conflict is related to the issue of human sexuality. The Commission on a Way Forward was made up of 32 people representing nine different countries. It was composed of 1/3 laity, 1/3 clergy, and 1/3 bishops. It was also a diverse group with perspectives that span the wide range of positions related to same-sex relations.
At the special called General Conference meeting now, over 800 delegates from across our world are in St. Louis to vote on a way forward for the UMC. Their deliberations will be based on the report from The Commission on a Way Forward.
There are three different plans that will be presented to the General Conference. Two additional plans may be considered, too. However, my current understanding is that early in the deliberation process, the General Conference will select one of the three plans to center its work on, and after deliberation, amendment, and negotiation, a vote will be taken on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
I am writing this email to help you stay informed BUT also to ask you to pray. Pray for the work of the General Conference, for the delegates, for the UMC and FUMCMC. And while you are praying, I would love it if you pray for all the clergy that are filled with anxiety during these times.
Here are some links that might help you understand the plans that are being discussed:
- A fairly unbiased report that also includes some information about two additional plans that will be presented at General Conference: https://um-insight.net/in-the-church/a-way-forward/what-are-the-possible-outcomes-for-gc2019/
- The plans in a chart format: http://s3.amazonaws.com/Website_Properties_UGC/learn/documents/GC2019-Plan-comparison.pdf
- A live stream of the General Conference: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2019-live-video-stream-english
One other thing — as I said in worship in all of the services today, I urge to stay away from the influence of social media regarding General Conference. Often times, incorrect or incomplete information will be shared as well as painful and hurtful opinions that can cause more damage than help.
Like you, I simply watch in prayer from afar. My hope is that this process can find a way forward with a sense of love and grace.