The Commission overseeing the United Methodist General Conference announced on March 3 that they have made the decision to postpone the General Conference that was scheduled for August of 2022 and have moved it to May of 2024. They have cited concerns over delegates from other countries being able to acquire visas as well as concerns over vaccinations for those delegates. You can read their decision here: https://www.umc.org/en/content/general-conference-further-postponed-to-2024.

Our Administrative Council met recently to discuss our concerns about this potential news and we will meet again on September 1 for more conversation about the implications of this decision. We will post more news in our upcoming newsletters and through our social media accounts as more information becomes available.

Our pastor met with all the Sunday School classes that accepted his invitation to speak with them about the General Conference. He would like to ask classes, groups, and individuals to continue to let him meet with you to talk about this decision and about the General Conference. Please contact him (601.856.6058) to schedule a time soon to meet with your group or with you.

Let us all be faithfully praying for the leadership of our General Conference, Annual Conference, and church during this difficult season. God has certainly gifted us a wonderful church family with so many ministries and missions and we will focus on our calling, ministry, and life together as we also pray and walk through these issues within our denomination.

ACTIVITIES FOR THE POSTPONED 2020 GENERAL CONFERENCE

RECENT UPDATES

  • October 2, 2022 - 

    As we reported in March, the postponed 2020 General Conference meeting of the United Methodist Church was further delayed until 2024. Since then, there have been additional developments within our denomination which have caused many United Methodist churches to explore the disaffiliation process that was passed at the 2019 General Conference. In our state alone, it has been reported that 159 churches have asked for an Exploration Meeting with conference leaders to learn about the steps and actions required for that process.

    This spring our pastor met with our Sunday School classes and held a church-wide Sunday School class to discuss the current issues about General Conference and within our denomination. In June, our Administrative Council created a sub-committee to explore the options for our church family. The Council heard from that group at our meeting on September 1 and they voted to request an Exploration Meeting with our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Connie Shelton, and our Conference Treasurer, David Stotts.

    This Exploration Meeting will be held on Sunday, October 2, at 4:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. It will be open to the entire church. It is an informational meeting only, and no vote will be held. Our conference leaders will share the steps and requirements for any church from our conference to either close or disaffiliate. They will answer questions on that specific subject, but this meeting is not about denominational issues or General Conference concerns. It is being held so we can gain an understanding of the specific requirements for churches.

  • September 25, 2022 - In response to the 2022 annual conference petition that was approved by the membership (page 145, Call for Vital Relational Conversations Among the Leadership and Churches of the Mississippi Annual Conference), the Mississippi Conference Delegation is hosting an online seminar entitled, “Important Connection Conversations in the Mississippi Annual Conference.” The Zoom webinar will be on Sunday, September 25, at 5:00 p.m. There is no required registration to attend. You will simply join in by using this Zoom information: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89735059444 or one tap mobile: US: +13092053325,,89735059444# or +13126266799,,89735059444# Webinar ID: 897 3505 9444. The online webinar will be hosted by Rev. Fred Britton, head of the delegation. Rev. Lisa Garvin will share the hopes of those who would like to change The Discipline to be a fully inclusive UMC denomination. Rev. Stephen Sparks will share the hopes of those that would like The UMC to remain a traditional denomination. Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson will share the hopes of those who advocate for unity and not separation. David Stotts will lead an overview of the disaffiliation process. Rev. Trey Harper will present on the related effects of clergy who choose to leave The United Methodist Church. The webinar will be recorded and can be found on the Delegation Hub (https://www.mississippi-umc.org/delegationhub) by Tuesday, September 27, for those who were unable to attend or would like to view the presentation again.

  • August 23, 2022 - The Judicial Council ruled that churches cannot use paragraph 2548.2 (Comity agreement) to exit the denomination. Here is a link to an article about that (https://www.umnews.org/en/news/church-court-clarifies-property-transfer-...). With that decision, the options for churches wanting to leave the denomination have basically narrowed to using paragraph 2553. This is the disaffiliation legislation voted on at the 2019 General Conference and that temporary provision will go away at the end of December 2023. 

  • June 7, 2022  - Progressive leaders and groups announced that they have pulled their pledged support for the mediated Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation legislation for the upcoming General Conference. You can read their announcement about that here: https://www.protocolresponse.com/?fbclid=IwAR3veRPqf8iRU4tqrKZokQfEWBWOW....

  • June 1, 2022 - The Judicial Council has amended their previous ruling about when newly-elected Bishops may take office. Here is an article about that news: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/church-court-modifies-ruling-on-bishop-el....

  • May 20, 2022 - The Judicial Council shared their ruling that Jurisdictional Conferences can be called so that bishops may be voted on to fill any openings. There are a few restrictions about those conferences and you can read the umnews.org article about this ruling here: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/ruling-opens-door-for-bishop-elections-in...

  • May 15, 2022 - The Clarion Ledger ran a front-page article on the Wesleyan Covenant Association's meeting in Indianapolis. The article also discussed the formation of the Global Methodist Church.  

  • May 10, 2022 - The Judicial Council has ruled that annual conferences in the U.S.A. cannot leave unless the General Conference provides enabling legislation for them to do so. Central Conferences can leave as an entire conference and the Bulgarian-Romanian Conference did leave as a conference in April. You can read about the Judicial Council decision here: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/judicial-council/judicial-coun....

  • April 20, 2022 - The Judicial Council has begun to release rulings from their April meetings. You can read about the most recent decisions here: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/judicial-council/most-recent-d...

  • April 1, 2022 - The Bulgarian-Romanian Annual Conference, at its annual meeting on April 1st, unanimously voted to withdraw from the United Methodist Church and align with the Global Methodist Church. This will be effective on May 1st when the Global Methodist Church launches as a new denomination. The Bulgarian-Romanian Annual Conference is the first Annual Conference to withdraw from the United Methodist Church and join with the Global Methodist Church. 

  • March 17, 2022 - The Council of Bishops shared that they have met to discuss pathways for those churches choosing to disaffiliation from the denomination and that they asked for an expedited ruling from the Judicial Council in April on if Annual Conferences can leave together and also about the possibility for Jurisdictional Conferences to meet in the fall to elect bishops. You can find that announcement here: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/bishops-discern-ways-f....

  • March 3, 2022 - The Global Methodist Church has announced it will officially launch on May 1, 2022. You can learn more about the Global Methodist Church here: https://globalmethodist.org/

  • March 3, 2022 - The Commission over the General Conference announced today that the General Conference that was scheduled for August of 2022 has been postponed to May of 2024. Here is their report about this decision: https://www.umc.org/en/content/general-conference-further-postponed-to-2024. It has yet to be determined if the 2020 General Conference is postponed to 2024 or if it is actually cancelled. The Judicial Council seems to be the group that will make that decision and should share that soon. 
  • February 24, 2022 - The General Commission met and made a decision on if the General Conference will be held. They have reported that the decision will be shared and publicized by March 3.

  • February 23, 2022 - African delegates to the General Conference wrote a letter to the General Commission asking for them to hold the General Conference this coming August. Here is a link to that: https://goodnewsmag.org/2022/02/23/a-message-to-the-commission-on-genera....

  • January, 2022 - No decision was made about postponing the General Conference, which is still scheduled for August. The decision should come by the middle of March. The commission is weighing Covid-19 concerns and the availability of visas for overseas delegates.

  • December 16, 2021 - The Mississippi Annual Conference has created a Delegation Hub on their website with information about the upcoming General Conference and our delegation. You find that at this link: https://www.mississippi-umc.org/delegationhub.

  • November 22, 2021 - The General Conference committee met and shared their goals and also their hopes that the General Conference would meet in 2022. Here is article about that: https://um-insight.net/in-the-church/umc-future/setting-criteria-for-a-2....

  • October 26, 2021 - The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference passed a resolution to endorse the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, un-amended, by the following vote: 501 for. 133 against, and 23 abstentions.

  • October 6, 2021 - Here is an article from umnews.org that contains information about different groups and plans for the potential separation of the denomination and the links to their videos and events: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/conversations-address-going-separate-ways.

  • October 1, 2021 - The Mountain Sky Annual Conference passed the following petition to support the Protocol with a "for" vote of 86% - https://www.mtnskyumc.org/files/websites/mountain/Final+MSC27+-+MSC+Endo...

PAST UPDATES

  • August 13, 2019 A group of Progessive, Centrist and Traditionlist leaders have proposed an initial plan of separation for the denomination. An article about that can be found here: (https://www.umnews.org/en/news/group-drafts-separation-plan-for-denomination). There are other groups meeting and proposing similar changes. Again, only the General Conference can make any changes for our denomination. 

  • September 18, 2019 - General Conference petitions are due by this date. They will not be translated and publsihed for several months.

  • September 26, 2019 - Here is a link to an article by Rev. Chris Ritter, an Elder in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. He shares a general summary and his thoughts about the many proposals and plans for the 2020 General Conference. (https://peopleneedjesus.net/2019/09/26/gc2020-nine-plans-and-what-to-think-about-them/?fbclid=IwAR2CvZJcJtDddJ_3IusvvzDdw3FCWvdCho2Hcg1RMZBxxhX_VULp2ffzfvM)

  • December 18, 2019 - Here is a umnews.org report about negotiations occuring before the 2020 General Conference between a small group of Progressive, Centrist and Traditionalist leaders (https://www.umnews.org/en/news/church-future-under-negotiation-before-gc2020).

  • January 3, 2020 - Here is a link to a news article about United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops signing an agreement, through a mediated negotiation, aimed at the separation of our denomination - https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/united-methodist-traditionalists-centrists-progressives-bishops-sign-agreement-aimed-at-separation-13133654?fbclid=IwAR0UulHITA2hpGpgbR2Qnnx_gbiNGH0QLQWXhsp_70XiatyZfL3UO4Hz3hU. Here is a link to a Frequently Asked Questions page about this mediation process - https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-united-methodist-mediation-team-13133711. This General Conference will have to act to receive this proposal since it did not come through the normal cycle and because it was not turned in by the September 18 deadline. Again, only the General Conference can make any changes for our denomination. 

  • January 3, 2020 - Here is a link to read what our Bishop's response was to our Annual Conference about the news of this mediated negotiation: https://www.mississippi-umc.org/newsdetail/report-shared-in-council-of-bishops-gathering-13135179.

  • January 3, 2020 - Here is a link to the Protocol document: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/files/websites/www/pdfs/signed+umc+mediation+protocoal+statement+-2020.pdf

  • January 13, 2020 - A panel discussion with the people who developed the Protocol proposal for General Conference will be live-streamed at 8:30 a.m. this Monday, January 13. Here is a link to that livestream: https://youtu.be/q2wZQyAjU6M . The video will be archived so it can be watched later. 

  • January 13, 2020 - Here is a umnews.org chart detailing the various proposals that have been sent to the General Conference in May: https://cdnsc.umc.org/-/media/umc-media/2020/01/09/19/07/General-Conference-UMC-Plans-Chart-V6

  • January 22, 2020 - All of the proposals for the 2020 General Conference have now been published. You can find them here: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/general-conference-2020-advance-daily-christian-advocate.

  • February 7, 2020 - The legislation for The Protocol proposal was released. Here is a link to the website where you can find that legislation: https://www.gracethroughseparation.com/

  • February 14, 2020 - The Liberian Annual Conference passed The Protocol with amendments. Michigan and Sierra Leone will hold Annual Conference meetings soon to pass The Protocol so that it will be an official proposal before the 2020 General Conference. Here is a link to an article about the Liberian proposal amendments: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/liberians-want-changes-in-separation-plan.

  • February 27, 2020 - The Africa Initiative, an advocacy group, announced that it is endorsing the Protocol legislation: https://um-insight.net/in-the-church/umc-future/key-african-group-supports-protocol-plan/.  

  • March 2, 2020 - Our Annual Conference has created a webpage for people to find updates about General Conference. You can find that website here: https://www.mississippi-umc.org/gc101.

  • March 12, 2020 - Traditionalist United Methodist leaders from around the world have agreed on an expansive vision for a new, global Methodist church. Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 2-4, episcopal leaders from Africa, Eurasia, the Philippines, and the United States, were joined by traditionalist clergy, and renewal and reform group leaders from the Confessing Movement, Good News, UMAction, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association to explore a unified way forward for traditionalists should The United Methodist Church’s 2020 General Conference adopt the Protocol. Here is a link to the full document of their announcement: https://wesleyancovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Reimagining-the-Passion-of-a-Global-Wesleyan-Movement.pdf

  • March 18, 2020 - Due to the COVID-19 virus, the 2020 General Conference has been officially postponed. It will probably be rescheduled for some time in 2021. You can find an article about that here: https://www.umc.org/en/content/united-methodist-general-conference-to-be-postponed?fhbclid=IwAR052XANbc4hGG89PtFyBmMhHUPkutmDOYDUUEql1MJ19V9nUIEQXqkm2mo

  • March 28, 2020 - Listening Session with General Conference Delegates (10:00 a.m., Anderson UMC, 6205 Hanging Moss Rd., Jackson) has been POSTPONED due to the COVID-19 virus.

  • April 10, 2020 - Due to the COVID-19 virus, the 2020 Jurisdictional Conference has been officially postponed.

  • May 26, 2020 - New dates have been announced for the postponed 2020 General Conference. It will now meet on August 29-September 7, 2021. Here is a link to an article with that information: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/new-general-conference-dates-announced.

  • October 7, 2020 - The Western Jurisdiction shares its support for The Protocol, actively make plans for the seperation of the denomination, and announces their plans for future LGBTQ+ ordinations (https://westernjurisdictionumc.org/where-love-lives-creating-a-fully-inc...)

  • November 6, 2020 - "Options for General Conference" article by Tom Lebrecht (https://goodnewsmag.org/2020/11/options-for-general-conference/)

  • December 2, 2020 - New Progressive Denomination forms from the UMC (https://www.umnews.org/en/news/new-progressive-methodist-denomination-st...)

  • February 13, 2021 - There was a U.S. General and Jurisdictional Conference report shared on YouTuibe. Here is a link to that video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gXlnw8wRFs&t=1869s.

  • February 20, 2021 - The Commission in the 2021 General Conference s scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Saturday, February 20, 2021, and it is possible it will share a definitive decision regarding the status of the next General Conference shortly after its meeting.

  • February 25. 2021 - The Commision on the General Conference has voted to postpone the 2020/2021 General Conference to 2022 due to COVID-19 travel and communication issues. Howver, the Bishops of our church are asking for a Special Conference to be held online on May 8, 2021, to gain a quorom to allow the suspension the rules and to allow for a paper ballot on 12 pieces of legislation/amendments before the General Conference. Here is a link to that request from our Bishops: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/bishops-call-special-s....

  • February 25, 2021 - Here is a letter from our Bishop to the Mississippi Annual Conference leaders regarding news about the postponed General Conference: 

    Greetings my fellow Mississippi United Methodists,

    I pray that this finds you well, safe and faithful in the midst of all the recent and on-going struggles in which we find ourselves. During this unprecedented time, God has revealed Himself, time and time again. I have been constantly affirmed and amazed by all that God has been doing in the lives of our churches and our clergy. God is good, and your work is changing lives.

    Today, there was a statement by the Commission on the General Conference (https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/General-Conference-Postponed-to-2022) about the postponed 2020 Session of the General Conference that was scheduled to meet later this year, has by necessity been further postponed until 2022. While we all find this unfortunate, we acknowledge these unusual times and trust that God will grant us patience as we “wait upon the Lord.” There was also a second statement by the Council of Bishops (https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/bishops-call-special-s...) that outlined a Special Called Session of the General Conference for May of this year. It will be completely virtual and limited to the immediate legislative needs of the General Church that we may continue to move forward in faithfulness as we await our next steps. For further information about our structure and these decisions, I encourage you visit this site (https://mississippi-email.brtapp.com/files/connectional+ministries/gener...).   

    The COVID-pandemic, and the global nature of our beloved Church have once again necessitated delay. I understand the reasons for these decisions. I also understand the frustration many of us are feeling. The tension in which our denomination finds itself has been going on much too long. The waiting for resolution seems endless. We are exhausted, and ready for something in our stressful lives to be complete. However, scripture reminds us, as followers of Christ to never grow weary of doing good.

    I know what you’re thinking. How is continued patience and waiting, seemingly in the face of the inevitable, doing good? Your patience and faithfulness—especially in the midst of stressful and complicated times—is one of the greatest witnesses to the love and power that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture reminds us that the faithful are not conformed “to the pattern of this world, but [are] transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]. Then [we are] able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    Christians are not blown from here to there by the winds of this world, no matter how strong the winds may blow. We are not a reactionary people, even though we find ourselves in a reactionary world. With our trust in Jesus Christ, we approach our call with measured step, thoughtful consideration and much prayer.

    So what am I asking of you? I am asking for patience, trusting in those here in Mississippi who serve with you. I am asking for continued faithfulness as you do your vital ministry in the churches and communities where we live and that we love. I am asking for you to commit to staying on this journey with your brothers and sisters of the Mississippi Annual Conference.

    That scripture from Galatians that reminds us to not grow weary of doing good, also reminds us that our faithfulness is never in vain. The apostle said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” 

    If we understand anything in the Mississippi Annual Conference, we understand the power of family. We are a family, and if we stay united in discerning the good and perfect will of God for the good people of Mississippi, God will bless us and the blessings will be abundant.

    In the coming days you will be receiving more information from myself, other conference leaders and your delegation. We are committed to transparency. We are committed to working through our path with your concerns and wisdom. We are committed to leading forward for the clergy and churches of the Mississippi Annual Conference and the Kingdom.

    Thank you for your time. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your continued commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission and ministry of the Mississippi Annual Conference.

    Blessings,
    Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.

  • March 1, 2021 - A new "traditional" denomination was announced this day. Here is a link to their website (https://www.globalmethodist.org/) and here is a link to an article on its origination: https://wesleyancovenant.org/2021/02/26/the-global-methodist-church/.

  • March 1, 2021 - There will be a Zoom meeting from the Mississippi Wesleyan Covenant Association on March 1 at 6:30 p.m. Keith Boyette, WCA President and Carolyn Moore, Chairwoman of WCA Global Council will discuss the latest information on General Conference, the Protocol, and the new traditional Methodist denomination. Here is the information for that Zoom meeting: Here is the information for that meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81244239518

  • March 22, 2021 - The Council of Bishops reversed their decision to call a special one-day General Conference. Here is an article on that decsion:https://www.umnews.org/en/news/bishops-cancel-may-8-general-conference.

  • August 27, 2021 - The Northwest Texas Conference passed a resolution indicating its intent to join a new traditionalist Methodist church under a proposed denominational separation plan. People across the conference stress that the resolution is nonbinding, and there remain many unknowns. Still, the conference is the first to say it would join another denomination if permitted to do so.

  • September 22, 2021 - Though the Global Methodist Church will not officially form until after an official division occurs in our denomination, those in leadership with that potential denomination have recently updated their website. For your information, here is the link to that site: https://globalmethodist.org/. 

2020/2021 GENERAL CONFERENCE MISSISSIPPI ANNUAL CONFERENCE DELEGATION

Lay delegates: Turner Arant, Ann Harrington, David Stotts, David Beckley and Steve McAlilly.

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

 

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.”

      • Judicial Council met on April 23-26, 2019 to discuss the constitutionality of all legislation that was passed at the 2019 General Conference. Here is a link to a video from our Bishop about this meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aizGgxaScy0&feature=youtu.be. Here is a link to the results and decisions of that meeting: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/court-oks-part-of-traditional-plan-exit-plan?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTjJJd1lXRTROMk01TnprNCIsInQiOiJ1ZU8xNXpcL3RhUDhwdlFEcGx3V3BJeHk5VFwvUWZcL1FieDF1Y2NUbGdJeTdsM2wwNnNidUZ6WTlOTllZOExmSlArekMwdnNESHZqTTBwRExjSkhyYThiOHBIN3YzeXpVRzdTODdEcEo1OUk2UTlWZk5WcHZpam9scVBRUU1saFVqWSJ9.

        • Petitions found constitutional and taking effect January 1, 2020 included:

          • An expansion of the definition of a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” to include persons in same-sex marriages or civil unions.
          • Prohibition of bishops from consecrating bishops or commissioning or ordaining “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”
          • Minimum penalties for being convicted at a church trial for officiating at a same-sex wedding: a one-year suspension without pay for the first conviction and loss of clergy credentials for a second conviction.
          • Prohibiting District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Boards of Ordained Ministry from recommending persons who do not meet all disciplinary requirements.
          • Making every effort to have a complainant agree to the terms of a just resolution of a complaint, and specifying that a just resolution must contain a statement of harms and how they are addressed in the resolution.
          • Church trial verdicts can be appealed on the basis of egregious errors of church law.
        • Petitions found unconstitutional:

          • Petitions which would have moved the accountability of bishops away from their jurisdictional college or central conference.
          • Petitions which would have required specific certification for persons nominated for the Board of Ordained Ministry.
          • A petition which would have asked Boards of Ordained Ministry to examine candidates in part, through a search of social media, to determine if they meet qualifications for commissioning or ordination. 
        • Finally, the Judicial Council ruled that a petition specifying a process for local church disaffiliation from an Annual Conference was constitutional.  The process includes a two-third majority vote by the church conference, an agreement between the church and the conference trustees, and a ratification vote by the Annual Conference. 

      • The Judicial Council met again in the fall of 2019. Here are the outcomes from their meeting:

        • The Judicial Council has rebuffed several challenges to the implementation of the Traditional Plan as adopted at the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis. These decisions mean that the provisions adopted can take effect January 1, 2020, as planned. The provisions will take effect in the central conferences outside the U.S. as of February 26, 2020.

           In one request for a declaratory decision, the Council of Bishops challenged several provisions adopted by the special General Conference.

           Expanded Definition

          The General Conference expanded the definition of the term “self-avowed practicing homosexual” to include a person “living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.” This definition clarifies that someone who lives publicly as a practicing homosexual cannot evade accountability to the church’s standards by simply refusing to state under oath in a trial that they are indeed engaging in same-sex practices. The bishops challenged this provision as being unfair to persons who had already entered into a same-sex marriage, union, or domestic partnership before the definition was expanded.

           However, this definition merely made explicit what was already implied in the previous requirement. At no time in the church’s history have same-sex marriages, unions, or domestic partnerships been allowed for clergy. Persons in these relationships still have the right to rebut the charges by stating that they are not engaged in a sexual relationship.

           Bishops Not to Ordain

          The General Conference added language explicitly prohibiting a bishop from commissioning or ordaining persons as deacons or elders if the Board of Ordained Ministry determines the individual is a self-avowed practicing homosexual or if the board has failed to certify it has carried out the disciplinarily mandated examination of the candidates, even if the individual has been recommended by the board and approved by the clergy session. The bishops challenged this provision as requiring the Board of Ordained Ministry to certify that a requirement has been met, when the Discipline does not require them to certify it. But of course, the language of the new provision is itself a requirement to certify the full examination of candidates, so the bishops’ argument is without merit.

          Mandatory Minimum Penalty

          The General Conference added a mandatory minimum penalty of a one-year suspension without pay for any clergy person found guilty in a trial of performing a same-sex wedding or union. The bishops challenged this provision by saying the penalty could not be applied equally to all clergy. Some clergy serve in appointments beyond the local church, and the church does not control their employment or their compensation. Some countries outside the U.S. do not allow employees to be suspended without pay. In both these instances, the bishops argued, a trial court could suspend the person without pay, but the penalty might not take effect.

           However, the trial court would know these circumstances before imposing a penalty, and could take the circumstances into account in tailoring a penalty to fit the circumstances. Without a specific case that has facts upon which the Judicial Council can base judgment, these questions are premature.

           The Judicial Council agreed. In Memorandum 1390, the Council declared that it did not have enough votes to declare any of the provisions unconstitutional. Instead, the provisions will go into effect. The Council stated, “Our rulings on the constitutionality, meaning, application, or effect of the various provisions will await the specific facts of applications of these provisions in cases to come before the Council after January 1, 2020.”

           Disaffiliation Provisions

          The General Conference added a new ¶ 2553, which contains a process whereby local churches may withdraw from The United Methodist Church and keep their property.

           In a different request for a declaratory decision, the Council of Bishops questioned the effective date of the new process, stating that there were different interpretations of what the General Conference enacted. The Judicial Council ruled that the General Conference adopted the new paragraph to be effective immediately upon the adjournment of the General Conference. Thus, the new process is now in effect and has been since February.

           The Council of Bishops also raised the question of whether the possibility of alleged improper voting in St. Louis had nullified this paragraph. The Commission on the General Conference carried out an investigation that reportedly identified four person who voted at General Conference when they were not entitled to vote. Since the initial vote for ¶ 2553 only passed by two votes, the Commission ruled the vote null and void. They then referred the matter to the Council of Bishops to present to Judicial Council for a ruling.

           In a somewhat passionate oral hearing, the Judicial Council questioned why the Commission did not bring the case to Judicial Council itself and why members of the Commission were not present to answer questions about the allegations of vote fraud. Under questioning, it came out that only two bishops had seen the report of the results of the Commission’s investigation. Questions arose about whether the Commission even had the authority to investigate or to declare the vote null and void.

           The Judicial Council postponed consideration of this matter until its spring meeting. This means that ¶ 2553 as adopted by General Conference is still in effect. Only the Judicial Council can nullify an act of General Conference, and it has not done so. In a related case, an action by the New England Annual Conference to add requirements to the process in ¶ 2553 remains in limbo. Judicial Council has postponed consideration of that question until it decides whether the paragraph was legally adopted.

           Annual Conference Resolutions

           A number of annual conferences adopted resolutions responding to the 2019 General Conference actions. Most of the resolutions disagreed with the decision by General Conference to adopt the Traditional Plan.

           In three annual conferences, the bishops ruled the resolutions (in part or in whole) to be an illegal contravention of the Book of Discipline. Such resolutions attempted to limit the annual conference from spending funds on complaints, trials, and other disciplinary procedures. They also committed the annual conference to disobey the standards of the Discipline when it comes to the ordination of gay clergy.

          The annual conferences where resolutions were ruled null and void by bishops and affirmed as such by the Judicial Council were:

          • Mountain Sky (Bishop Oliveto)
          • California-Pacific (Bishop Hagiya)
          • Upper New York (Bishop Webb)
          • In the past, the Judicial Council has ruled that resolutions that simply disagree with a General Conference action and “aspire” to a different outcome are acceptable because they do not bind the annual conference to take any specific action and they are merely an expression of opinion.

          • The annual conferences where resolutions were challenged but validated as acceptable by the bishop and Judicial Council were:

            • Central Texas (Bishop Lowry, two resolutions)
            • North Texas
               
  • LISTENING SESSIONS
    • April 15, 2019 - The Annual Conference shared summary videos from the District Gatherings. You find them at this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhVXxJQ10kT6xJKoNAapQZRdC8RgRbYIb. The also shared a link for the Power-Point presentation from those meetings: http://mississippi-email.brtapp.com/files/episcopal%20office/project%20k....

    • April 10, 2019 - By April 10, the Bishop plans to send out summary videos of the presentations he made at the recent District meetings. Those videos will also address a number of the questions and concerns that were submitted on the feedback forms in person and online. All of this material will be available on the Conference website (www.mississippi-umc.org) and on their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSRtxv_Kix8IbYuHKRMLIjg).

    • April 2, 2019 - Our Administrative Council, having attended the Town Hall and the Bishop's District event, will meet to discuss the General Conference and to make plans for our church. 

    • March 24, 2019 - Bishop Swanson held District-wide meetings to discuss and answer questions about the February General Conference vote. Many from our church family attended the meeting at Christ United Methodist Church on March 24. Here is a link to the information that was shared that day: http://mississippi-email.brtapp.com/files/tables/emails/2254070/fields/a...

    • February 27, 2019 - Our senior pastor will lead our second General Conference Town Hall at 6:15 pm in the Sancuary. We will discuss the decisions made at the Genrecal Conference. 

    • February 14, 2019 - Mississippi Annual Conference Communications update about General Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKf3zwdWj2A&feature=youtu.be

    • February 6, 2019 - Bishop Swanson will begin a series of meetings throughout our Conference with clergy to address their questions and to share his thoughts about the General Conference.

    • January 20, 2019 - A new Listening Post event with our Bishop and all of the General Conference delegates at Christ UMC (3:30 pm). 

      • 500 United Methodist clergy and laity gathered at Christ UMC to address the Mississippi Conference Delegation to the 2019 Called Session of General Conference. Our Bishop spoke to us about the upcoming Conference, twenty-six people publically shared their hopes and thoughts with the delegation and then the entire group prayed over the delegation. 

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

    • 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).

    • ​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. 

  • 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE

    • February 23-26, 2019

      • Link to live stream of General Conference: www.umc.org/live. This link will go live once the General Conference begins.

      • 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.

    • General Conference actions​

      • Video from our Bishop about the General Conference results: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=TObRlMxuH9Q 
      • By a vote of 438 to 384 (53.3 percent), the General Conference adopted the Traditional Plan, parts of which will not be able to go into effect because they are unconstitutional.
        • Parts that will go into effect are:
          • Expanded definition of “self-avowed homosexuals” to include persons living in a same-sex marriage or union or who publicly proclaim themselves to be practicing homosexuals
          • Explicitly prohibits bishops from consecrating bishops, ordaining or commissioning clergy who are self-avowed practicing homosexuals
          • Requires all persons nominated to serve on the annual conference board of ordained ministry to certify that they will uphold and enforce the Book of Discipline’sstandards for ordained clergy
          • Establishes a minimum penalty for clergy convicted of performing a same-sex wedding of a one year suspension (first offense) and loss of credentials (second offense)
          • Explicitly prohibits district committee and conference board of ministry from recommending a candidate for ministry who does not meet the standards, and orders the bishop to declare any such unqualified candidate out of order
          • Prohibits a bishop from arbitrarily dismissing a complaint against a clergy person
          • Requires the involvement of the complainant in all stages of the resolution process and that every effort must be made to have the complainant agree to any just resolution
          • Allows the church to appeal the verdict of a trial court in cases of egregious errors of church law or administration
          • Petitions defining how clergy pensions are to be handled when a clergy person or congregation leaves the denomination
      • An exit path for congregations seeking to leave the denomination with their property, in exchange for one (extra) year’s apportionments and payment of pension liabilities. This legislation will not go into effect because it is believed to be unconstitutional.
      • The One Church Plan was defeated by a vote of 374 to 449 (54.6 percent opposed).
      • The Conference Connection Plan was not brought up for a formal vote. 
      • UPDATE - Due to four questionable ballots, the dissafiliation vote may not be valid. 
  • ANNUAL CONFERENCES

    • February 14, 2019 - Link to Mississippi Annual Conference's webpage on General Conference updates and information: https://www.mississippi-umc.org/gc2019

    • Summer 2019 - Annual Conferences across the UMC voted on delegates for the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. 

2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE 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