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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: Tuesday Wrap-up

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

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The fourth and final day of General Conference 2019 was spent in plenary voting on petitions to become church policy. The body heard from the Committee on Credentials, whose report was presented by United Methodist Women member Jo Anne Hayden from Alaska. Her report was followed by reports from Committees on Journal, Courtesies and Privileges, Calendar and Agenda, and Correlation and Editorial Revision, which noted contradictions and duplications in the two dissolution petitions.
 
Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Ohio West Episcopal Area presided over the morning session.
 
The first petition addressed by the plenary was one regarding the One Church Plan, moved by Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters dealing with the timeline of the plan’s implementation. If approved, the timeline would apply to any and all plans passed. The amendment states that legislation passed at the 2019 General Conference shall not take effect in Central Conferences until 12 months after the close of the 2020 General Conference.
 
Gail Douglas-Boykin, governance committee chair for United Methodist Women’s board of directors, made a motion that this timeline should apply to the entire church.  
 
“We should stop treating Central Conferences as an exception and start considering their needs as a core part of our work,” she said. “We should set a timeline that the whole church can observe.”
 
United Methodist Women members Karon Mann and Lynne Gilbert also made their way to microphones at different parts of the day to make this same motion to ensure the request remained in front of the body. It was never allowed to come back for a vote.
 
The petition Wespath Recommendations-Pension Liabilities and CRS was passed, then reconsidered, amended and passed again. An amendment to the original petition required that churches who left the denomination must pay any owed apportionments before they left. The plan first passed with this amendment, then was removed during the second vote.
 
Secretary of the General Conference Gary Graves then shared the decisions of the Judicial Council decisions regarding the constitutionality of the plans that passed legislative committee. Both dissolution plans were ruled unconstitutional, as were petitions 90033, 90034, 90035, 90037, 90038, 90039, 90040 and 90045 of the Traditional Plan. To date, nine of 17 pieces of the Traditional Plan have been ruled unconstitutional.
 
A minority report was brought for the One Church Plan to replace the Traditional Plan as the main motion on the floor. After debate, this motion was defeated.
 
After lunch, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Episcopal Area became the session’s presiding bishop.

“We need to acknowledge the pain and disappointment in the room and around the world,” Harvey said. “We still have work to do for the sake of the mission. I hope that we’ll work together with a heart of peace. This is worshipful work.”
 
A motion to refer possible unethical behavior regarding bribery and votes to the Committee on Ethics was made, and the motion passed.
 
The body then discussed, amended and ultimately voted on the Traditional Plan. It passed 438 to 384.
 
Many delegates rose to pray and sing together. Protesters chanted “Stop the harm” outside the arena seating area for the rest of the session.
 
A motion for a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan passed, which the Judicial Council will address at its April meeting. Graves announced that any piece of legislation declared unconstitutional will not be included in The Book of Discipline. At the end of the final day, delegates adopted a minority report amending the Taylor disaffiliation petition and took an omnibus vote to reject all remaining petitions.
 
United Methodist Women, we celebrate our 150th anniversary in less than a month. We have persisted through change before. We could not have been organized for mission for this long if we let our differences divide us.
 
You've been praying. You are praying. Keep praying.
 
Tara Barnes is editor of response.
 
Petitions, news and transcripts can be found in the Daily Christian Advocate:
umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2019-daily-christian-advocate
| 2/27/2019 9:05:49 AM | 0 comments
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