In February 2019, a special called session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church convened in St. Louis, Mo. The session was called by the Council of Bishops to solely address human sexuality in The United Methodist Church. The delegates were assembled to consider three plans from the Commission on a Way Forward.
Delegates passed the Traditional Plan, which would "affirm the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage. It also boosts penalties and accountability for transgressions of those bans," according to a report from United Methodist News Service on Feb. 26, 2019. The plan is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Since then, several groups within the connection have gathered to offer alternative options for a way forward. Legislation has been submitted for consideration and possible enactment by the General Conference when it meets again in May of 2020.
Click here for information and responses from Greater Northwest leadership to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.
The following list is not exhaustive but includes those plans that have been distributed publicly. Other plans have been submitted and will be available for consideration by General Conference delegates when it has been translated into the four official languages.
*Links from caucus groups are for information, not endorsement.
Breaking up would be hard to do – Oct. 1, 2019
You can find more articles about General Conference on the UMNS website.
In anticipation of the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky invited United Methodists in the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Conferences to join her in an area-wide book study for what she coined a CrossOver year. That study continues until December 2019.
Each annual conference hosted and encouraged local churches to participate in Table Talk conversations to engage the church’s current discussion of human sexuality and the decisions made at the 2019 General Conference Session. Additionally, as conferences met in May and June for their 2019 Annual Conference Sessions they passed legislation for local action and General Conference Consideration.
Most recently, Bishop Stanovsky has formed a Guiding Coalition to help in shaping and leading a new movement of Methodism in the Northwest that fully includes LGBTQIA+ persons in membership, participation, and leadership. Workgroups of laity and clergy will examine areas where the conferences can shape or define a way forward.
The five active bishops in the Western Jurisdiction announced that they are offering Safe Harbor to LGBTQ+ clergy and urged bishops and other United Methodists to join them during the Council of Bishop’s Fall 2019 meeting at Lake Junaluska, N.C.
What will the future of The United Methodist Church look like in the coming years? Who is shaping that vision, and what are the most important values?
From Nov. 14 to 16, 2019, the Western Jurisdiction (WJ) Mission Cabinet is hosting a Fresh United Methodism Summit consisting of the WJ Leadership Team, WJ Workgroup Leaders, 2020 General Conference delegates from the WJ, and other emerging leaders. Go to the Western Jurisdiction website to find details about the groups selected to participate and for details about the live stream.
A six-session video resource from Rev. Rob Fuquay tackles the topic of human sexuality in Church today. This resource, which is available to loan from the Regional Media Center, explores how United Methodists can be fully inclusive AND faithful.
Special thanks to Charmaine Robledo, Director of Communications for the Mountain Sky Conference, for her collaboration on this project.