The Special General Conference of The United Methodist Church concluded its four days of meeting in St. Louis on Tuesday, February 26. The One Church Plan, which failed to make it out of the legislative session Monday was able to be brought back to the floor of the General Conference Tuesday as a minority report, but was again voted down. The One Church Plan had been supported by the majority of Bishops and would have given discretion to individual Annual Conferences, Bishops, pastors and churches when it comes to ordaining LGBTQ persons as clergy or officiating or hosting same-gender marriages.
Eventually, the Traditional Plan did pass. The Traditional Plan affirms the Church’s current ban on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-gender marriages. The Plan that passed strengthens enforcement of these punitive and exclusionary practices.
The Traditional Plan that was adopted will be sent to the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, for a declaratory decision. The Judicial Council, which is like the Supreme Court of our denomination, will rule during its next regularly scheduled meeting, April 23 – 25. We will not know until after that what portions of the Traditional Plan are actually valid and constitutional according to our denominational constitution.
There was also an exit plan or ‘disaffiliation plan’ passed for churches wishing to leave the denomination. That too will likely be sent to the Judicial Council by the Council of Bishops for a declaratory decision.
In the midst of hurt, harm and grief, God is with us and from any death comes a resurrection. What I can tell you as your pastor is that we will continue to be an open, inclusive and reconciling church in our community and continue to offer God’s love and H.O.P.E. that we have named as Hospitality, Offering Christ, Purposeful living and Engaging our community. Our witness as the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church is more important than ever to show and share God’s love to hurting people.
May we live in these days holding to the knowledge that God’s love cannot be legislated or voted upon. Together, may we continue to be a faithful witness to what being the Body of Christ in a waiting and needy world means and looks like.
For more information about the Special General Conference and The United Methodist Church, go to www.umc.org