UMC General Conference Special Session
Vista Ridge UMC will host two informational presentations on Sunday, January 27, 2019, regarding the United Methodist Church’s General Conference Special Session in February to address the issue of human sexuality. No position will be taken on this topic, but church leaders want to ensure that our worshipping community is informed. Tim Crouch, head of the North Texas Conference Delegation to the General Conference, will present the information.
- 9:45 a.m. (Fellowship Hall)—overview of plans being considered and the process by which the General Conference will vote
- 12:30 p.m. (Sanctuary)—in-depth presentation about the plans being considered and a question/answer session
Our United Methodist denomination has been in ongoing conversations and church legislative efforts regarding human sexuality for the past 40 years. Included in those discussions are the topics of fidelity in marriage, celibacy in singleness, and engaging in ministries with our neighbors who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). The discussion of human sexuality has centered around two specific areas: the marriage of LGBTQ persons and the ordination of LGBTQ persons to professional ministry.
These conversations came to a head at the 2016 General Conference (the United Methodist Legislative body) in Portland, Oregon. Years of differing beliefs led to a stalemate that has threatened to divide the United Methodist Church. At the request of the General Conference, the Council of Bishops (the United Methodist Executive body) was asked to lead on these issues. The Council of Bishops recommended the formation of The Commission on A Way Forward. The commission was composed of 32 individuals from all corners of the world, with different backgrounds and perspectives. They met regularly for more than 18 months as they formed recommendations for the future of the United Methodist Church as it relates to the ongoing conversations about human sexuality.
In July 2018, the commission submitted three different plans: the One Church Model, the Connecting Conference Model, and the Traditionalist Model. The Council of Bishops received the report and came back with a large majority recommending the One Church Model. Their hope for this model is threefold:
· Design a way for being the church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness;
· Allow for as much contextual differentiation as possible; and
· Create as much unity as possible.
On February 23-26, 2019, a special session of the General Conference will convene in St. Louis, Missouri, to vote on these matters.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What have other denominations done?
Other mainline denominations (like Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian) have dealt with these matters in recent years. There has not been an example of an easy solution.
What is the process for voting at the Called General Conference?
Each annual conference elects an equal number of lay and clergy delegates who will vote in February. Vista Ridge UMC is part of the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Local churches and individual church members will not be voting. Delegates have been engaged in prayer, conversation, listening sessions, research and other collaborative work for several years. Ultimately, their votes will be guided by their conscience and what they believe is best for our conference and our denomination.
Who are the delegates?
There are 864 delegates worldwide comprising equal numbers of laity and clergy. The North Texas Annual Conference has 10 delegates who were elected in 2014 for the 2016 General Conference. The 2019 Called General Conference is a continuation of that work.
What happens after General Conference?
Regardless of what happens in February, Vista Ridge UMC will continue to be about the work of building life-giving relationships with God, with each other and with our community.
RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE
Written Report –Final Report of the Commission on A Way Forward
Articles – Related to the Commission on A Way Forward
Video – Tom Berlin Discussing the Work of The Commission on A Way Forward(55 minutes)
Video – Adam Hamilton at the Uniting Methodists Conference in Dallas(1 hour)
Video – Mark Miller at the Uniting Methodists Conference in Dallas(40 minutes)
Scripture – Read and studyActs 15: 1-35 (the situation of the early church and how it relates to our situation today)
TO HAVE A CONVERSATION
If you would like to have a conversation about A Way Forward, please contact: