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News from the 2019 special session of the United Methodist General Conference Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri.

General Conference 2019: Sunday Wrap-up

Summary of the second day of General Conference 2019, taking place Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri. 


The 2019 special session of the United Methodist General Conference is underway at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. It takes place Feb. 23-26.
Amid growing calls for the church to split over LGBT+ inclusion, the United Methodist Council of Bishops called this special session for delegates to vote on a plan to keep the church together to best do the work God has called it to. A commission, called the Commission on the Way Forward, was established to come up with this plan or plans. The commission has presented three plans for the delegates to vote on, and other plans from other groups were also submitted and accepted.
After a day of prayer on Saturday Feb. 23, Sunday Feb. 24 began with opening worship and sermon by Bishop Kenneth Carter, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.  
Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic-Baltic Episcopal area presided over the morning plenary.
“We are not here to discuss an issue,” he reminded delegates. “We are here to talk about people: sons, daughters, friends, family, LGBTQI individuals.”
Noting that the conference is meeting in a former NFL football stadium, Alsted said, “This is not a football arena. This is church. A different set of rules apply.”
After passing a plan of organization and rules of order, delegates heard from moderators and members of the Commission on a Way Forward, who shared their experiences of their time together and
 “We were called to think differently and do our work in different ways, to relate to one another in different ways,” said Bishop David Field Switzerland.
Alice Williams from the Florida Conference said the time together “turned out to be an amazing, God-filled experience that none of us could have anticipated.”
Commission member Jasmine Rose Smothers presented the One Church Plan, endorsed by the Council of Bishops, to the delegates. She was followed by
Mazvita Machinga presenting the Connectional Plan and Jessica LaGrone presenting the Traditional Plan.
Legislative session
The afternoon session was presided over by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and began with a prioritization process in which delegates voted on the plans they deemed most important to be addressed. Each delegate voted either 1 or 2 for each plan presented—1 deeming the plan a high priority and 2 deeming it low. The top five plans the body determined to be top priorities were the following:
  • Wespath Recommendations-Pension Liabilities and CRS
  • Traditional Plan (except for pieces ruled unconstitutional
  • Dissafilitation-Taylor-New Par. 2553
  • Disaffiliation-Boyette-New Par. 2549
  • One Church Plan
All other petitions were ranked as lower priority. Petitions will be addressed in their voted order as time allows. All and any decisions must be made by Tuesday Feb. 26 by 6:30 (CST). You can find these plans in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate.
Because of the special nature of this particular General Conference in which all petitions submitted address the same topic of church structure and stance regarding LGBT inclusiveness, instead of dividing into multiple legislative committees as in regular General Conferences, the Commission on the General Conference determined that one single legislative committee would be the best way to organize this General Conference. The Plan of Organization for the General Conference does not allow petitions to be considered in a plenary session without first being assigned to a legislative committee, so a committee or committees needed to be established.
All 864 delegates became one legislative committee after electing Joe Harris of Oklahoma the committee chair, Betty Kazadi Musau from North Katanga the vice chair, and Carlene Fogle-Miller of the Florida Conference as secretary.
With Harris presiding, the committee passed the Wespath recommendations, which are part of the One Church Plan but became a separate petition since the amendment to ¶1504 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church would apply to any plan that passed. The petition concerns a local church’s contribution to annual conference pension funds should their connection to the church change.
The legislation has passed committee and will be voted on by the body on Tuesday, when the General Conference is set to return to plenary. On Monday delegates will continue in legislative committee and address the other plans and petitions in order of the now-determined priority.
Follow United Methodist Women on Twitter at @UMWomen for news from General Conference, and watch the livestream of the proceedings at
Tara Barnes is editor of response.
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| 2/25/2019 12:33:38 AM | 0 comments
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