By now, you have seen the news reports. A wide-ranging group of United Methodists met together with a well-known mediator to work out an agreed plan for separation to submit to the 2020 General Conference. This plan will enable us all to put decades of contention regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Church behind us and allow churches and clergy to live into their ministry authentically whatever their beliefs.
The agreed plan begins with traditionalists, meaning those who have decided they cannot participate in a denomination in which there are churches, conferences, and jurisdictions, practicing full inclusion of LGBTQ people, will form a new denomination and receive $25 million over four years to aid in the formation of their denomination. Any other groups wanting to form their own denomination would receive $2 million. The next step is General Conference would move to adopt the Connectional Table’s plan to make the UMC in the United States a regional conference much like the central conferences in the rest of our global church. This would allow the US Regional Conference to remove the prohibitive language regarding LGBTQ people from its Book of Discipline without requiring other regional/central conferences who remain a part of the United Methodist Church to do the same. The final piece of the deal is setting aside $39 million to support ministries with communities historically impacted by systemic racism.
I believe this proposal provides a pathway to a healthier time in our Church where all people will find a place they are fully included and loved. There is still much work to be done before it becomes a reality, but this proposal provides the greatest hope for our Church in the decades that have followed our entry into this dispute in 1972.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for our Church as we move toward General Conference in May. Pray for our bishops and other church leaders who will be communicating the implications of this agreement to their delegates and constituencies. Pray for the General Conference delegates who will be voting on this and perhaps other proposals. Pray that people will be moved with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as General Conference discerns the next steps.
As you pray, if you would like to know more about the agreement announced this weekend, you will find a link to a letter from Bishop McKee posted this past Sunday, including a link to the entire text of the agreement on the CHUMC Facebook page.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen