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UMC Special Council comes to a close

UMC Special Council comes to a close

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.


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Anne Kohlstaedt

1) I don’t understand how an overwhelming majority of bishops favored One Church, while the delegates favored the Traditionalist plan. Are the bishops & delegates not representative of the world in the same proportion?

This comment has been edited to remove material inconsistent with our policy – editor

Fred Loving

If they have learned anything from us they should know with a split there are no winners. The Body of Christ becomes more divided.

Daniel London

Does anyone know what the implications of this decision are for the United Methodist-Episcopal dialogue committee and their proposal for full communion between the churches (“A Gift to the World: Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness”)?

Marshall Scott

With Jon, my question becomes, “Which Methodists?” Our full communion conversations need approval from UMC in 2020, and the folks supporting the Traditional Plan would not seem inclined to accept us any more than the progressives in their own ranks. When we gather in 2021, we will probably be looking at a whole new landscape.

Professor Christopher Reese SEITZ

In the case of splits on the landscape of American denominations, to which you make reference: Presbyterians, Lutherans, and now Methodists are dividing and have made provision for parishes/individual churches to leave with their property. Then you mention TEC. Of course, it has not done that. (Except in conservative dioceses, which let liberal prishes leave, as in SC). That ship has sailed in TEC.

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