Whatever the results of General Conference 2019, the Kentucky Annual Conference wants to be prepared for what comes next.
Nearly two dozen pastors and laity from across the KAC, along with Conference directors and staff, have begun meetings to envision potential scenarios following the crucial session Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis to determine The United Methodist Church’s policy on human sexuality.
The group’s first meeting was held Jan. 7 at the Conference Center in Crestwood.
Bishop Leonard Fairley stressed to the group that regardless of what happens at General Conference, the UMC’s mission remains the same: making passionate spiritual disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
“God has given us everything we need to get us through this and whatever else that comes down the pike, because this won’t be the last thing,” the bishop said.
He added, “This is not about our agenda, this is about God’s agenda.”
A special advisory panel, the Commission on a Way Forward, spent almost two years drafting three scenarios for the UMC on its policies regarding LGBTQ matters. The three proposals are known as the Traditional Plan, the One Church Plan, and the Connectional Conference Plan. Full descriptions of each plan can be found here.
General Conference delegates can vote for any or none of the plans.
At the Jan. 7 meeting, participants were divided into four groups; three of them each took one plan and anticipated potential scenarios if it were to be approved. A fourth group considered scenarios in the event that delegates approve no
The group is scheduled to meet again Feb. 11.
Rev. Julie Hager Love, director of Connectional Ministries, said she has been getting questions from people wondering if the KAC is working on what could happen after General Conference. Depending on the outcome, some churches or individuals could leave the denomination or withhold apportionments to the Conference in protest, among other scenarios.
Rev. Love was also one of the 32 members of the Commission on a Way Forward.
Bishop Fairley stressed at the meeting that the contingency-planning needs to be a collaborative effort and not something that the KAC is handing down without input from clergy and laity.
Meeting participants are requesting that laity and clergy in the KAC lift the group up in prayer as part of their devotional time leading up to General Conference.
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church and normally meets every four years. The 2019 meeting is a special session called specifically to consider the UMC’s policies on human sexuality.
The next regular General Conference will be held May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis.
Darren Brandon, Eric Bryant, Kevin Burney, Tami Coleman, Bishop Fairley, Tony Franklin, David Garvin, Mark Gibbons, John Hatton, William Herndon, Esther Jadhav, Neil Janes, Mike Kenner, Julie Hager Love, Jere McIntyre, William Moore, Pam Moran, Craig Robertson (facilitator), Adam Shourds, Brad Smart, Mark Walz Jr., James Williams.