ST. LOUIS – Tuesday’s final session of the 2019 General Conference sets up to be one of the most consequential days in the history of The United Methodist Church.
This after delegates Monday, while acting in the legislative committee, only approved an amended Traditional Plan among the major plans submitted for review. Neither the One Church Plan nor the Connectional Conference Plan was supported by the legislative committee.
It was a heartbreaking day for many, especially those who advocate for full inclusion for members of the LGBTQ community. The atmosphere inside the Dome at the America’s Center became noticeably silent when the One Church Plan was not supported.
In a conversation with delegates and others from Kentucky, Bishop Leonard Fairley encouraged the church to remain hopeful.
Delegates, though, will come to Tuesday’s final session awaiting a decision by the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of all plans supported by the legislative committee. The committee had asked for the review, especially in connection with the Traditional Plan. Portions of the Traditional Plan had been ruled unconstitutional prior to the start of the called session.
Rev. Joe Harris of Oklahoma, chair of the legislative committee, announced that the decision would come in the morning.
The One Church Plan, which would allow for contextualization in matters related to human sexuality, was the preferred plan of the Council of Bishops. It also had support from several prominent pastors across the connection, such as Rev. Adam Hamilton of the Church of the Resurrection outside Kansas City.
The Connectional Plan never received a full debate. It was caught up in a petition to reject all remaining petitions after the One Church Plan was denied. An attempt to remove it from the motion failed to garner enough support. In the prioritization process, delegates had considered the Connectional Conference Plan as a low priority.
Only the Simple Plan, which would remove all restrictions regarding homosexuality, survived the rejection petition. It was ultimately defeated, but several delegates spoke, saying it was important to hear from the LGBTQ community that supported the plan. Hamilton spoke, saying it was necessary so no more harm would be done.
The General Conference now moves back into the plenary session Tuesday morning. While the Traditional Plan was supported in the legislative process, delegates can still take up any of the petitions that were not supported.
They will be included as part of the minority report. By the rules of the Committee on Calendar and Agenda it will take a request from 20 delegates to move a petition to the plenary that was not supported in committee.
The plenary session begins Tuesday at 8:20 am CST (9:20 a.m. EST). Live streaming services are available at umc.org/live.
Rev. Shannon Blosser is the pastor of Ogden Memorial UMC in Princeton, Ky. He is also a member of the Kentucky Annual Conference’s Communications Team. He is providing live coverage on Twitter at @ky_umc and @ShannonBlosser.