. . .regarding the 2020 General Conference and the Protocol
Dear First Murphy,
You may have seen in the news yesterday headlines announcing that UMC leaders have formulated a plan for a split. Headlines don’t have the luxury of telling the whole story, only enough to get you to click and follow the link. The reality of yesterday’s announcement from the United Methodist Council of Bishops is more nuanced and hopeful than a click-bate headline would make you think.
As you know from our conversations and my blog posts around our denomination’s Special Session of General Conference in February 2019, the UMC has been stuck at an impasse when it comes to convictions around human sexuality. The adoption of the Traditional Plan at GC2019 only heightened the tension and unrest in the denomination.
Several plans have already been submitted to our next General Conference, meeting May 5-15, 2020. The one released yesterday is the only one with such broad and unanimous agreement from a remarkably diverse group.
To give more insight as to what the Protocol could mean (there are still steps that would have to happen for it to be reality), I am including a few links below, and encourage you to read them in the order listed. The FAQ page is especially helpful.
Before following the links below, please take a minute to read this message from our area Bishop, Rev. Paul Leeland.
I also encourage you to depend on news coming from UM News, our denominations official news source. Their reporting is in service to Christ and the Church, and will be more accurate than any other news outlet.
Here is one quick takeaway, from my perspective: Achieving unanimous consensus on such a significant proposal required much negotiation, sacrifice, and compromise, which only comes from humility, selflessness, and love for Christ and one’s sister/brother more than oneself (even when we disagree).
I have read and reread the Protocol and FAQ page, and my sense is that the work was undertaken with both grief and hope, and much prayer. Separation within the Body of Christ, no matter how amicable, is grievous to our Lord who continually prays that we might all be one (Jn. 17:21). Yet this suggested Protocol might be the most viable pathway forward for our beloved denomination.
As I’ve said at other times, whatever the future holds for the UMC, we have ministry to do here today and tomorrow and the next day. Who we are and our mission in Christ remains the same. We will continue this conversation as a congregation in the coming months. As Bishop Leeland urges, “Reflect rather than react. Be prayerful for the church.”
Links to Articles and Resources
Full Text for the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation