Day 3 of General Conference began with legislative committee work on the Traditional Plan. Multiple amendments were made to the plan before the plan was passed by a vote of 461 (56%) – 359 (44%). The Traditional Plan still has many amendments which must be adopted to make it constitutional. These amendments will most likely be added to the Traditional Plan when it comes back to the body on the plenary floor.
Following the vote on the Traditional Plan, votes were taken on the Disaffiliation Plans by Taylor and Boyette. The Taylor plan passed by 53% and the Boyette plan passed by 52%, so when these plans come to the plenary floor the delegates will have to choose whether or not to ultimately pass one of the these plans. For more details about these plans, please see yesterday’s blog.
The One Church Plan then came for debate by the legislative committee. After amendments were debated several of which were adopted, The One Church Plan was defeated in the legislative committee with 386 (47%) voting for the One Church Plan and 436 (53%) against it. Most delegates anticipate the One Church Plan will ultimately be brought back to the plenary floor by a minority.
Following rejection of the One Church Plan, there was a motion to have the legislative committee reject all the remaining petitions in mass. The motion passed after being amended to allow debate on The Simple Plan. Though the Simple Plan did not garner much support in the prioritization votes, delegates voted to give it a hearing within the committee as a sign of respect and willingness to listen to the LGBTQI community.
After passionate debate the Simple Plan was ultimately voted down, 323 (40%) for versus 494 (60%) against.
There was a request for the Judicial Council to give a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of all the plans coming before the plenary session Tuesday. This request passed and, most likely, we will hear the decision of the Judicial Council tomorrow morning.
The depth of divisions within our denomination are becoming more and more clear in our votes thus far. As I was reflecting on the difficulty our divisions present, I looked down at my travel Bible on the table beside my book of legislation. Within the pages of the Bible, I found a piece of paper from my time serving as Minister in Residence for a week at Camp Wesley Woods last summer. On that piece of paper were the names of every child at camp that week – which I spent a week studying and trying my best to memorize. Some of those children accepted Christ that week. Many others rededicated their life to Christ.
This piece of paper reminded me that decisions made at this General Conference could have the effect of making children whose names are on that piece of paper feel unwelcome in the UMC. It also reminded me God knows each of our names, the number of hairs on each of our heads and loves each enough even at our worst to die for us – and no decision about a Way Forward for the UMC changes any of that.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Wil Cantrell serves as the Associate Pastor of Concord United Methodist Church in Farragut, TN. Wil’s driving passion is to help people live an authentic life while experiencing a real growing faith in Jesus Christ. Previously, he served as the associate pastor at Middlebrook Pike UMC and as the pastor of Lebanon Memorial UMC (Lebanon, VA) before coming to Concord UMC in July 2015.