The Special General Conference meant to define a path forward and settle the issues around LGBT+ Christians in the life of the United Methodist Church is over, and by any measure of the actual actions compared to the goals was a failure. Perhaps that was always slated to be the outcome; it would have been a heavy lift to be the only Christian body to have resolved these issues to everyone’s satisfaction.
By large majorities the delegates chose the Traditional Plan, which does not preserve even the status quo, but doubles down on excluding LGBT+ person from any meaningful role in the life of the church, requiring ministers, ministry committees, bishops, and the councils of the church to continually certify and re-certify their straightness.
Even though, significant portions of the Traditional Plan were found to be contrary to the church’s constitution, the majority voted for it anyway. Proponents of an inclusive church seemed to hope to delay or defer the inevitable vote by introducing a raft of amendments, with one delegate, The Rev. Mark Holland, holding a stack of amendment forms and vowing to keep submitting them until the monster trucks entered the arena, saying; “We’re gonna amend until the monster trucks roll in.” A monster truck show was scheduled later in the evening after the convention cleared out.
The bishops had pushed hard for adoption of the One Church Plan; which would have allowed for a multiplicity of approaches within the church to LGBT+ inclusion, but it was quickly dismissed. There was an attempt to bring it back as a minority report this morning; but that effort floundered as the majority of conservative delegates seemed set on the Traditional Plan.
There is another, regular, General Conference scheduled for next year, and will happen before the decisions made today are scheduled to go into effect. It seems likely that there will be a continued efforts by proponents of inclusion to create a welcome space in the United Methodist Church at that time. Nonetheless, the fractures in the church are more obvious than ever, and now far less willing to find a via media.