CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE

  • A WAY FORWARD COMMISSION

  • COUNCIL OF BISHOPS

    • April 29-May 4 2018 - Meeting to discuss the Way Forward proposal

      • The Bishops voted by a majority that they prefer the One Church Model for the 2019 General Conference.

      • They also voted to include the other two sketches/options in their report to the General Conference.

    • July 8, 2018

      • The Council of Bishops' suggestion for the One Church Plan will now be added as an Appendix to the "A Commission on a Way Forward" three models/proposals. It is the Commission's proposals that will all be on the floor of the General Conference for a vote.

  • JUDICIAL COUNCIL

    • May 22-25, 2018 - Meeting to address the Council of Bishops’ questions about the possibility of additional petitions for the General Conference (http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/court-ruling-spurs-competing-interpret...)

      • The Judicial Council voted to allow that additional petitions could be sent to the General Conference as long as they were in harmony with the intended and stated purpose of the specially called General Conference. The Judicial Council, in Decision 1360, declared that any United Methodist clergy, laity, or organization might petition the special General Conference, enabling a multitude of proposals to be placed before the delegates for consideration.

      • The Judicial Council further declared that the report that will be up for a vote to the General Conference should be the report of the COWF, not a report from the COB. Based on recent statements made by some bishops and some members of the Commission On a Way Forward, no report will come to the special General Conference from the Council Of Bishops. Rather, now the Commission On a Way Forward will deliver its report, unfiltered by the Council Of Bishops, as it was directed to do by the 2016 General Conference. The Commission On a Way Forward report that will be delivered will be supported by fully developed petitions to implement each of the proposals explored by the Commission On a Way Forward — the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan.

    • An additional meeting took place on October 23-26, 2018.

      • In an electronic vote on July 7, 2018, the bishops agreed to seek a ruling from the highest court in the denomination on whether proposed legislation known as the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan and the Traditional Plan are constitutional. “We are asking for this so that we can gain greater clarity about constitutional issues within the three plans, and in service to and support of the delegations, who will do extremely important work in a very limited amount of time,” said COB President Bishop Kenneth H. Carter. We will add the Judicial Council's ruling on hte three plans here once it is made public. 

      • Link to videos of those Judicial Conference meetings: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/judicial-council-october-2018-webcast

      • Link to a .pdf file of their decision: http://www.umc.org/decisions/78141

      • The whole purpose of this proceeding before the Judicial Council was to learn in advance of the special General Conference whether language in any of the petitions proposed to implement the plans raised constitutional issues. With some minor exceptions, the Judicial Council held that the petitions filed to implement the One Church Plan would be constitutional if adopted. In reviewing the petitions filed to implement the Traditional Plan, the Judicial Council identified constitutional issues with the language contained in eight of the petitions. The Judicial Council’s decision helpfully identified issues which must be addressed should the special General Conference adopt the Traditional Plan. Each of the points raised by the Judicial Council will be addressed legislatively through minor changes in the Traditional Plan without the necessity of constitutional amendments. The Judicial Council declined to make any rulings with respect to the Connectional Conference Plan since that plan concedes that constitutional amendments would have to be passed to enable it to be adopted. As the Judicial Council observed, it “lacks the authority to scrutinize proposed constitutional amendments.”

  • LISTENING SESSIONS

    • ​August 2018 - Bishop Swanson responded to questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference at these meetings. Several members of the 2016 delegation representing the Mississippi Annual Conference also attended these meetings. Crowds of 300-500 people attended the events throughout the state. Video summaries from the Listening Sessions, and also a roundtable discussion with the Bishop and General Conference delegates, will be available soon. We will post the link for that here when it does. 

    • September 2018 - Summary video with Bishop Swanson and General Conference delegates about the recent Listening Sessions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyH5ZRzF0-k&t=28s).

    • September 2018 - FAQ document from the August Listening Sessions (https://www.mississippi-umc.org/files/episcopal%20office/2018%20fall%20l...).

    • March 2019 - Bishop Swanson will hold District-wide meetings to discuss and answer questions about the February General Conference vote. Dates will be listed here for those meetings once they are determined.

  • GENERAL CONFERENCE

    • February 23-26, 2019

      • Saturday, February 23, will be a day of prayer and preparation, culminating the bishops' "Praying Our Way Forward" campaign to seek God's help for our church's way forward.

      • Sunday, February 24, will be the first day of business. The conference will hear a report from the Commission on a Way Forward on the three plans it brought forward. The conference will spend the rest of the day debating the three different directions suggested by the plans. At the end of the day, there will be a straw poll to determine which plan will be the one that the body works on. (This is not a final vote, but rather determines which set of petitions will be considered in the committee process. There will need to be more votes before the action becomes final.)

      • Monday, February 25, will see the conference meet as a legislative committee of the whole, presided over by a delegate. The body will consider, amend, and pass the petitions related to the plan they voted to consider on Sunday. Other petitions can be added to or substituted for the ones directly related to a plan. All the other petitions that are not approved will presumably receive a vote of non-concurrence, since all petitions must be voted on by the legislative committee. If the petitions related to the chosen plan do not pass, the body could presumably try to perfect other petitions related to another plan instead.

      • Tuesday, February 26, will be the final day of the conference and it will meet in plenary session, again with a bishop presiding. The petitions perfected on Monday will receive a final vote. The conference will also consider the implications of its actions for the future, particularly for the upcoming regular 2020 General Conference. This day also provides a bit of margin, in case the perfecting work is not completed on Monday or the conference votes to go in a different direction. Whatever is enacted by the plenary session on Tuesday will be the final decision of the conference.

  • ANNUAL CONFERENCES

    • Summer 2019 - Annual Conferences across the UMC will meet and vote to ratify the constitutional amendments of General Conference if they are any part of the approved proposal.  

THREE SKETCHES/OPTIONS INFORMATION

  • THE ONE-CHURCH MODEL: Under this plan, each conference would be able to decide whether to ordain LGBTQ individuals as clergy. Each pastor would be able to decide whether to perform same-sex weddings or unions. Each local church would be able to decide whether to allow same-sex weddings in its sanctuary or receive an openly gay pastor. Those who could not in good conscience participate in same-sex weddings or ordination of LGBTQ clergy would not be required to do so. Central conferences — church regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines — could maintain their own standards on ordination and marriage. The model would essentially make legal what is already happening in some parts of the connection.  The One Church Model gives churches the room they need to maximize the presence of United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible. The One Church Model provides a generous unity that gives conferences, churches, and pastors the flexibility to uniquely reach their missional context in relation to human sexuality without changing the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church.

  • THE MULTI-BRANCH MODEL: Under this plan, United Methodists would share doctrine, services and one Council of Bishops, while also creating different branches. The five U.S. jurisdictions would be replaced by three connectional conferences, each covering the whole country, based on theology and perspective on LGBTQ ministry — progressive, contextual and traditional branches. In this case, contextual means allowing churches flexibility in ministry with LGBTQ people as best fits their mission field. Annual conferences would decide with which connectional conference to affiliate. Central conferences would remain as they are or could choose to affiliate with one of the three connectional conferences. This model likely would require amendments to the denomination’s constitution.

  • TRADITIONLIST MODEL: This plan would keep the current Book of Discipline language about human sexuality and would then place a high value on accountability. Eventually, the Commission narrowed their proposal down to the two sketches that they presented to the Council of Bishops and so there is less detail and specifics about this plan. 

CURRENT BOOK OF DISCIPLINE “SOCIAL PRINCIPLES” REGARDING HUMAN SEXUALITY

We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift.

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children. All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults.

We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

 “the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching….We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.¶ 161.G 

Marriage is still defined in the UMC as “between one man and one woman.” ¶ 161.C  While same-sex couples are welcome in the UMC, our ministers are not allowed to permit same-sex union services, nor can such services be held in our churches. ¶ 341.6: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.  

“Self-avowed, practicing” cannot receive ordination in the UMC. ¶ 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church. 

GENERAL CONFERENCE 2019 MISSISSIPPI ANNUAL CONFERENCE DELEGATION

Lay delegates: Timothy Crisler, Turner Arant, Ann LaSalle, Ann Harrington, David Beckley and Lauren Sledge.

Clergy delegates: Mattie Gipson, Stephen Sparks, Fred Britton, Zach Beasley, Mitchell Hedgepeth and Bob Rambo.

 

Reserve delegates

Lay: David Stotts

Clergy: Leanne Burris