To all my non-Methodist friends, please be patient with me on this UMC lingo. Here’s a quick report from General Conference from today in St. Louis. In our session today, the “Traditional Plan” passed and the “One Church Plan” did not. I have advocated for the “One Church Plan” time and again as I think it gives flexibility to our churches and keeps the United Methodist Church from splitting. It would keep beloved ministries of our connection like Camp Glisson in tact! There is a chance it will be brought back up tomorrow, but for now it’s defeated.
It’s looking like tomorrow the “Traditional Plan” will be struck down because it is largely unconstitutional. However, there are two other “dissociation” provisions for churches that will likely pass tomorrow and be in line with the UMC constitution. It’s often referred to as a ‘gracious exit.’ What this could mean is that individual churches can vote to leave the denomination and take their property and assets with them.
I have heard reports for months that groups of churches and clergy are planning to exit the United Methodist Church as soon as the ‘exit strategy’ is passed. I’m a bit sad by all of this. I have no plans of leaving this church that has given me so much in my life. In fact, today I met some men from South Georgia who knew my grandparents and their ministry at Epworth by the Sea. It brought back fond memories of my grandparents’ gift of the church and Jesus to me. Being a United Methodist is a big part of who I am. As much as I disagree with some of the people I suspect might be leaving our denomination, I also love them. It will be sad to see them go. I was especially saddened to see the faces and social media post from gay friends who were disillusioned with the church’s defeat of the “One Church Plan.” They feel the church does not care about them or accept their call into ministry. The pain is real! That’s why this conference is hard.
But I’m also at peace. God could be doing something new in the midst of all of this. Jesus is still on the throne. I had a chance to visit with Candler students in a hotel lobby tonight. There were tears, prayers, music and laughter. They gave me bright hope for tomorrow. The Holy Spirit is still blowing upon the church.