CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE

  • A WAY FORWARD COMMISSION
    • October 2016 - Commission is formed
      • Commission of thirty-two persons consisting of liberal, moderate and conservative clergy and laity from all over the globe from our denomination
    • January 2017Commission on a Way Forward holds organizational meeting 
    • September 2017Commission Starts to Sketch Options for the Way Forward
    • February 2018Commission on a Way Forward Clarifies Values as it Presents Two Sketches to Bishops
    • March 2018 - Offered their final presentation to the Council of Bishops
    • July 2018 - The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward has been released in all four official languages of the General Conference. The report will be presented to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. Subject to final copy editing, the report will be printed in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) in November. Here is a statement from the moderators of the Commission and the president of the Council of Bishops on the release of the report: “To the people of The United Methodist Church. We offer the final report of the Commission on a Way Forward, translated in the four official languages of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church: English, French, Portuguese and Swahili. In the Nicene Creed, we are taught the marks of the church—one, holy, catholic and apostolic. We are catholic in that we care not only for the parts of the church, but more significantly for the whole. We have refrained from commenting about the plans contained in this report until the time when our sisters and brothers could read this in their own first language. With this distribution, we give thanks that this work can now begin, and we can have a conversation that represents our global and catholic nature—more fully who we are as The United Methodist Church.
      Bishops Sandra Steiner Ball and David Yemba
      Moderators, Commission on a Way Forward
      Bishop Ken Carter
      President, Council of Bishops
      Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
      Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
      The United Methodist Church
      mmulenga@umc-cob.org
      202.748.5172
    • October 2018 - Additional petitions to the General Conference will be made public this month. We will post a link to those documents here when it is made available. The petitions were due by July 8 and are now being translated into four languages.
  • 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 will take place in October, 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. 
  • 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. 
    • 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 2019
  • 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.  

MASIC 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