Today’s efforts at the UMC special conference was largely a dispiriting day for proponents for full or greater inclusion of LGBT+ Christians in the life of the church. Working through yesterday’s priorities, the Traditional plan was approved to move to a vote in the plenary session by a majority of just over 56% of those voting.
Later in the day, the One Church Plan, which would have removed language from the Book of discipline concerning LGBT+ persons but left it up to each minister and congregation as to how to respond was defeated by a similar number as approved the Traditional plan (53%). That plan was the one which had been recommended by the bishops of the church.
Though it failed to move to a vote in the plenary, the One Church Plan was expected to be “resurrected” as a minority report to be addressed in tomorrow’s legislative action.
Anticipating that whichever plan was approved, congregations would seek to depart from the denomination, two separate proposals for disaffiliation were approved for debate and vote in the plenary. Both would require a 2/3 vote of the congregation and payment of pension and insurance liabilities. Proposal 90066 though, proposes an intermediate step where the judicatory would be required to assess the viability of the congregation and could choose to close the parish instead of releasing (thus retaining all funds and properties to itself).
There was then a motion to vote down all other proposals, though an amendment was offered to strip out discussion of the Simplified Plan (which also removes references to homosexuality from the Book of Discipline). That amendment passed, so the Simplified Plan is still on the table while everything else has been set aside.
Near the end of the session, JJ Warren, a college student, gay man, and alternate delegate from the Upper New York Conference, brought many in the crowd to their feet with his impassioned plea. Many in the assembly responded with enthusiastic and emotional cheering when he said;
“My evangelism on campus has grown. We have brought people to Jesus because they have not heard this message before. They didn’t know god could love them because their churches said God didn’t. And so if we can be a church that brings Jesus to people who are told can’t be loved; that’s what I want our church to be and that’s the Methodist Church that I love.”
People could be heard singing “Jesus Loves Me” in the background as he finished.
— Sav-o-lantern 🎃 (@hey_savvy) February 25, 2019