I know some of you keep yourselves updated on the developments as we get closer to the dates of our special called General Conference, but many are completely unaware. So in short, here are some facts:
- The special called General Conference will meet Feb 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. The 32-member Commission was authorized by General Conference 2016 and appointed by the Council of Bishops to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and exploring options to strengthen the unity of the church.
- After some changes, we have about 78 pieces of legislation that we will possibly look at, which range anywhere from a very conservative interpretation of our faith to accepting all people as God’s beloved children. There are plans that say, if we change our current stance, we will leave, to, we will not change anything, you can leave! Then there are people who love the institution so much that they are willing to compromise anything for unity, while there are others who say- we love the church, but will not allow it to harm anyone anymore.
So, where do I, as a delegate, but even more importantly as your pastor stand? I stand with the SIMPLE PLAN, which did not come from the commission, but from the Queer caucus of our church, but it simply asks that we remove the harmful language from the current Book of Discipline and remove the financial ban, which means donations made to the United Methodist Church, can be used to support LGBTQ ministries. Here is the link, if you desire to know details about the Simple Plan.
The 3 plans from the commission are- the One Church Plan which is labeled as the ‘progressive’ plan but I am not ready to support it, as it is. It will need to be amended significantly before I put my vote to it, the Connectional Plan and the Traditional Plan.
Some people question, if the progressives are splitting the votes among ourselves by supporting 2 different plans. But, another reality is that we do not clearly know how the process will flow. The first day has been set aside for prayer and preparation. The remaining three days will be spent in discerning, debating and, perhaps, deciding. So, as I said in the beginning, the upcoming weeks are full of uncertainty and anxiousness, but also of much prayer, conversations and negotiations.
People of God, I ask you to hold all those who involved in your daily prayers. I would even ask that you say a special prayer for us -- specially during the days of the General Conference. I would also welcome your questions, conversations and any other thoughts you may have.