Opinion

What will happen at the special session? Here’s what United Methodists predict

People predict what will happen at the 2019 UMC General Conference in St. Louis. Courtesy photos

(RNS) — A few months ago, United Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto predicted that 2019 will be the year her denomination decides “all are necessary members” amid a long-running dispute over sexuality.

By engaging Scripture, tradition, experience and reason together, she predicted, United Methodists will “provide a critical witness to a fractured, hurting world that differences do not have to lead to division and unity is not the same thing as uniformity.”

United Methodists will find out soon if the bishop’s predictions are correct.

This weekend the global denomination’s decision-making body, known as the General Conference, will gather for a special session in St. Louis to discuss plans to move forward despite deep disagreement over ordaining LGBTQ clergy and performing same-sex weddings.

Heading into that special session this weekend, Oliveto, the first openly LGBTQ bishop in the United Methodist Church, told Religion News Service, “My prayer for this special session of General Conference is that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a place of healing, reconciliation and unity that will surprise us all.”

We asked pastors, bishops, delegates, activists and other United Methodists in the United States to share what they expect — and hope — to happen at the special session, too. Here’s what they suggest we keep an eye out for.

The views expressed in these submissions, which have been edited for length and clarity, do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton: Live in the tension

Adam Hamilton. Photo courtesy of Church of the Resurrection

It requires patience, humility and grace to look at people with whom you disagree on an issue or theological point and say, “You are still my brother or sister.” It requires a willingness to say, “I don’t agree with you here, but I value what you bring to the table, and I need you.”

It is much easier to want to leave and find a place without the tension, where everyone agrees with you, than to stay in a place with people with whom you disagree. But I believe we’re all poorer when we do that.

This is one reason why I support the One Church Plan recommended by two-thirds of our bishops. It attempts to navigate a middle way between the left and the right, giving space for both the traditionalists and the progressives. Some will leave because of it. But I hope many more will say, “We can continue to live in the tension, valuing, while disagreeing with, those on the other side.”

The Rev. Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., where he preaches to more than 8,000 people each week. An expanded version of his comments can be found on his website.   

The Rev. Alex da Silva Souto: ‘Do no harm’

The Rev. Alex da Silva Souto. Photo by the Rev. Won Tack Lee

United Methodists have been actively debating about the human dignity and divine worth of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) people since 1972, the year I was born. While “self-avowed, practicing homosexual” is the identity criminalized by the UMC Book of Discipline, the targeted groups have been much broader.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming people, for example, have also been discriminated against and punished. This nearly half-century-old debate has been prolonged because the powers that be refuse to do the work of understanding, accepting and celebrating the diversity, complexities and wonder of human sexuality.

Which is why I and thousands of other United Methodists support the Simple Plan, which would strike from our Book of Discipline all discriminatory language against LGBTQIA+ people. After decades of systemic harm, the only solution is returning to the first rule of United Methodism: “Do no harm.” The Simple Plan proposes exactly that. We must first stop the spiritual/physical harm against LGBTQIA+ people, and only then can we have a real conversation about “human sexuality.”

We might walk away from St. Louis without final answers, but stopping the harm, as a first step, is certainly better than more of the same. We are deciding on matters of life and death for LGBTQIA+ communities around the world; may we allow the Holy Spirit to move and revive all that needs movement and revival.

The Rev. Alex da Silva Souto is co-convener of the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus, one of the leaders of UM-Forward and a General Conference delegate from the New York Conference. He pastors New Milford United Methodist Church in New Milford, Conn.

The Rev. Beth Ann Cook: Face the depths of division

The Rev. Beth Ann Cook. Courtesy photo

I am praying that St. Louis will bring the moment when we finally acknowledge and face the depth of our division. Our theological division is not limited to the issue of human sexuality. Sexual ethics are the presenting problem for a deeper theological division in our church. It is time to stop kicking the can down the road. But making this decision will be painful.

The Commission on a Way Forward spent countless hours looking at every possibility. There is no perfect plan. Passing any of the plans will violate someone’s deeply held convictions in such a way that they will feel unable to remain part of our denomination.

If a local church cannot in good conscience stay in the United Methodist Church, I pray that we will live out Matthew 7:12 by passing a gracious exit path that allows them to take their property with them. Such an exit path would need to provide for unfunded liabilities, including our pension obligations. But I want those who feel that they cannot remain in our church, to be able to be faithful to Christ’s call as they understand it. I want us to be known as people who love one another deeply.

The Rev. Beth Ann Cook is an ordained elder in the Indiana Annual Conference and senior pastor at Logansport First United Methodist Church. She has been elected to serve as a General Conference delegate three times and also serves on the Commission on General Conference.

Ben Weger: ‘Continue being the church God has called us to be’

Ben Weger. Courtesy photo

As a person who is called to ministry and unable to pursue that call in the church that baptized me, I cannot support the One Church Plan. I was fired from my position at a United Methodist church for being a transgender man and the pastor who fired me sits on the board of ordained ministry in my annual conference. The One Church Plan does nothing to guarantee any progress for me in this process unless I want to move away from my family and community.

Which is why I support the Simple Plan, a plan that was introduced by a group separate from the Commission on a Way Forward and removes all discriminatory language from the Book of Discipline — something I believe is essential.

If I were to make a prediction, however, I would say, with whatever hopefulness I have left, that the UMC will pass the One Church Plan.

I am fortunate to currently serve within a United Methodist congregation that welcomes and affirms all people and the truth is, on March 3 we will gather together and continue being the church God has called us to be. Whatever change may come, I believe we will carry on in mission to build and be God’s kindom on earth.

Ben Weger is the worship leader at Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a seminary student at Iliff School of Theology.

Scott D. Miller: Churches should choose their own paths

Scott D. Miller. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wesleyan University

As a lifelong Methodist and president of a Methodist-affiliated institution, my primary concern is doing what is right and including and representing the spiritual needs of all members of the church regardless of orientation. My loyalty lies with what I consider to be the true Christian way in my heart.

There are three approaches being considered at the special session. I believe the most logical approach is the Connectional Conference approach. This model would allow individual churches to choose their own path. Other options are likely to result in further division and controversy, and consequently, a denominational crisis that will greatly affect funding, resources and long-term viability.

My hope and prayer is that, whatever happens, we will honor the United Methodist Church’s  “profound commitment to the sacred worth of all persons and to social justice,” as we have done previously in our positions on civil rights, women’s rights and other issues.

Scott D. Miller is president of Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach. A college president for over 28 years, he was previously president of Bethany College, Wesley College and Lincoln Memorial University. He is a lifetime Methodist and is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Traci C. West: Demand ‘uncompromised respect’

Traci C. West. Courtesy photo

I hope that the United Methodist Church’s 2019 special session offers a much-needed demonstration of its unambiguous opposition to hate by removing all of the anti-LGBTQ discriminatory language from the Discipline. Therefore, I support the Simple Plan.

I pray that the UMC’s 2019 special session will offer an alternative Christian message that demands uncompromised respect for the equal human worth and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and heterosexual persons across all racial, national, ethnic and tribal backgrounds. I hope that the gospel mandate of Jesus Christ who came to set at liberty the oppressed will prevail, not as empty or hypocritical Christian rhetoric that masks the desire for property and power and thus merely continues the tradition of our white Methodist slave master and colonizing forebears. Instead I hope this gospel mandate prevails in actual liberative practices and policies of the 2019 church.

The Rev. Traci C. West is professor of Christian ethics and African-American studies at Drew University Theological School in Madison, N.J. She is an ordained elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Carolyn Moore: Exit ramp options are needed

The Rev. Carolyn Moore. Courtesy photo

For 40 years, the United Methodist Church has developed its waiting muscles. We’ve been waiting for decades for a decision to stick around issues of human sexuality that will release us to move on from this conversation. The last three years have been an especially intense time of waiting. With less than a week to go, I sense that none of us is sure how this will shake out. There seems to be a split opinion around three options — either one of the two more likely plans up for consideration will succeed (One Church or Traditional), or no decision will be reached at all due to a bureaucratic logjam.

My deep hope — more than which plan wins the day — is that an exit ramp will become part of any plan approved. Right now, only one of the three plans proposed provides for an “exit ramp” — a way out for pastors and churches that does not punish them for their choice to leave the “connection” with property and position intact. A “gracious exit” was recommended for all plans by the commission that proposed the three options up for debate; but with one exception, the exit ramp option has been removed. That is discouraging. I so want our tribe to do this differently than others who have gone before us. There is no winning if we are all biting and devouring each other on the other side of this. No one, regardless of their theological position, should be held hostage by a system they cannot live in wholeheartedly.

The Rev. Carolyn Moore is pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Evans, Ga., and vice chair of the Council of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. She also writes a blog titled The Art of Holiness.

The Rev. Gil Caldwell: ‘Why not change our minds?’

The Rev. Gil Caldwell. RNS photo by Travis Long

Once, Methodists used the Bible to ban dancing, card playing, the drinking of alcohol and divorce. The Bible has not changed, but United Methodists have. Why not change our minds about homosexuality?

I grew up learning about Negrophobia, the fear of blacks. Homophobia is a fear of homosexuality. Politicians and church leaders have been known to use the deep-seated phobias of people, link them to the Bible and justify discrimination against blacks and homosexuals. We call this a “weaponizing” of the Bible. My hope is that the delegates to the General Conference will end biblical weaponizing of same-gender-loving persons and their advocates.

What does this moment mean to me as a United Methodist? What does it mean for the rest of the church?

That the UMC will become a church that dares to dare to be the inclusive and just church it has not been. Recognizing the flaws, yet hopes that all people have, will never be completely filled in this life.

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a clergy member of the Mountain Sky Conference. Caldwell was one of the founders and the second national chairperson of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and a former staff member of the United Methodist Church General Commission on Religion and Race. He was active in the civil rights movement, including the March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer, Selma to Montgomery March and Poor People’s Campaign.

John Lomperis: Be cautiously optimistic

John Lomperis. Courtesy photo

I hope and pray that my fellow delegates join me in adopting the Modified Traditional Plan.  This is the only plan that faithfully affirms clear biblical and historic ecumenical and Wesleyan teaching about God’s good design and boundaries for marriage and sex.

There is little mystery about what the so-called One Church Plan would do to our denomination in the long run. Despite the misleading name, it is significantly more radical than the liberalizing policies that split apart other mainline denominations. This favored plan of U.S. bishops would bring an even greater split to our denomination. Adopting the so-called One Church Plan would lead to making the United Methodist Church become no longer united, no longer Methodist and not much of a church.

I am cautiously optimistic that enough of my fellow delegates will vote for the same standards of biblical faithfulness and Wesleyan accountability that we supported at the 2016 General Conference. This could set us on a course of renewed biblical faithfulness, renewed Wesleyan accountability for our leaders, renewed respect for the global church, renewed compassion for ALL people and hopefully reducing some of the reckless and pastorally harmful covenant-breaking we have seen in recent years.

John Lomperis is a lay delegate from the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church and director of UM Action, a program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and an unofficial evangelical caucus group within the denomination.

Bishop Scott Jones: Change is coming

Bishop Scott Jones. Courtesy photo

No matter what is decided, I have no doubt that some sort of change is coming to the United Methodist Church. I believe God has a great future planned for the Wesleyan Movement, and I plan to be active in leading the church forward.

At the end of this process, the UMC may not look the same in structure or scope, but we are not going to change in our mission. I believe the more we focus on our mission, the stronger we will be.

I recognize that this is a significant moment in the life of our denomination. My prayer is that we will one day look back upon this time in our history and see that we conducted ourselves in a manner that exemplified our love for God and for each other as we focus on the mission that Christ has given us.

I believe the global church is watching and waiting to see how we respond. I pray at the end of the day they see our unity around our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world above anything else.

The Rev. Scott J. Jones currently serves as the resident bishop of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He regularly offers commentary on his website, ExtremeCenter.com.

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

113 Comments

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  • It’s always fascinating to watch liberals call for talk, talk, talk, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue but as soon as they get their way, the talking is over, there is no more dialogue and people are forced to conform or get out or be ostracized for their point of view. The UMC should simply divide itself and be done with it.

  • I’m glad “I” for “intersex” is being brought into the definition and discussion. Church people are under-educated about that topic and how much of it occurs in Creation. I know that I was in churches for over 40 years, and the topic was literally “unheard of” there. I wonder if we would have been more open-minded as a society if the “I” had always been put on the FRONT end, before “L” or “G” or “B” or “T”. Just a thought. Messaging always matters, and we usually don’t get the best kind when our cultural education is “willy-nilly” from whatever just “goes around”.

  • Its hilarious to hear the Traditional plan be called “ecumenical” when all of the UMC’s closest ecumenical partners perform same-sex marriage (PCUSA, Episcopals, ELCA).

  • Everybody has their preferred whatever. But at the end of the Final Vote, either The Bible or Gay Goliath will be rejected and locked out of the Methodist Church.

    And don’t think that the Muslims of Africa ain’t watching this show. African Christians gonna get an earful, if UMC vote against their own Bibles.

  • In my local Methodist Church, I watched its death over a period of 16 years. I watched as a progressive agenda changed the church I knew. Everything from the music, ignoring the Book of Discipline, and Biblical preaching changed. I watched dear friends, who loved others, gave of time and talent, leave. Membership dropped dramatically as they have followed the UCC, Episcopalian, and others in the USA. The Methodist votes of African/ Asia at the last conference kept the Book of Discipline unchanged. No matter the presentation this weekend, there will be s schism.

  • Obviously you have been a careful student of the events in the Episcopal Church from 1974 forward.

    “Inside Every Liberal Is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out”.

  • People in Africa are beginning to come around to accepting persons as God made them. Several African countries are now contemplating decriminalizing homosexuality.

  • God made no one homosexual.

    “Do not say, ‘Because of the Lord I left the right way’;
    for He will not do what He hates.
    Do not say, ‘It was He who led me astray’;
    for he has no need of a sinful man.
    The Lord hates all abominations,
    and they are not loved by those who fear Him.”
    (Sirach 15:11-13)

  • Perhaps you’re more informed regarding homosexuality and the laws of Africa. I was speaking to news articles that I have read in the past and current regarding what has kept the book of discipline changing with in the united Methodist church.

  • It is just by chance that I have received numerous friend requests that I have accepted from Africans on Facebook. Technology is amazing, isn’t it?

  • This article https://www.umnews.org/en/news/lessons-from-other-denominational-divides states this about the Episcopal Church, “The Episcopal Church, like other mainline Protestant denominations, has seen its U.S. membership shrink since the late 1960s. Still, losses did accelerate for a time after Robinson’s rise to bishop. Between 2003 and 2013, the denomination saw its total baptized membership drop by 17.4 percent.

    Since then, The Episcopal Church has opened the marriage rite to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples. Last year, its General Convention voted to leave the question of same-sex marriage up to individual clergy instead of their bishop.

    The rate of decline also has slowed. Between 2016 and 2017, The Episcopal Church saw its membership decrease by 1.9 percent to about 1.7 million. In 2017, more than 1,400 of the denomination’s 6,447 congregations reported growth of at least 10 percent in the past five years.

  • I don’t see why you think that Gay people are the “Goliath.” People who oppose Gay persons like you do are not rejected by their families and thrown out into the streets like many LGBT youth are. People aren’t fired from their jobs just because they oppose Gay people. Gay people are fired simply because they are Gay. There are also many hate crimes each year committed against LGBT persons. I haven’t heard of two much hate violence directed against Conservative Christians.

  • So it’s attracting same sex couples looking for a place to land.

    Seriously, I am not going to keep this exchange going about a denomination which is looking to sell its New York headquarters to make ends meet.

  • Back in 2015 the Oregon shooter who killed nine people at Umpqua Community College singled out Christians for slaughter. Witness Anastasia Boylan told CNN that the shooter, identified by U.S. law enforcement as Chris Harper Mercer, said to one student as he fired at her: “[B]ecause you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second.”

  • That’s not persecution at all. The baker just believes in discrimination on the basis of Religion. Anyway, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

  • The baker is a Christian who will not facilitate LGBT marriages.

    To ensure the demise of his business, a transgender attorney set up another collision currently wending its way through the system.

    LGBT people have a right to privacy.

    Others have a right to be left alone as well.

  • It’s unheard of because it’s a medical rarity and has zero bearing on anything in the moral order.

  • TEC has been discussing selling the NYC property for a few decades, but it’s yet to be done.

    The most important reason to sell is to get the HQ and staff out of one of the most expensive cities in the US, to a more centralized city with a good airport and a more reasonable cost of living.

  • One of the reasons that you didn’t hear much about intersex folks was because physicians through most of your lifetime pushed parents to surgically set a physical gender for their child. So there were many genetic boys who were surgically made to resemble and were reared as girls. It has only been more recently that doctors stopped the pressuring as so many screwed up lives became more apparent.

  • I totally agree. Many of these persons are CONSTANTLY asking for money. But not all. I haven’t given anyone any money.

  • This is a bit complicated. I would say if the baker ran a very private business that was not publicly incorporated, then he should be allowed to discriminate. Or perhaps if it was an extension of a particular Church and he only baked cakes for a particular Church. However, if he ran a business that was publicly incorporated and esp. had many locations, then it shouldn’t be his right to discriminate. However, I DON’T believe Clergy in anyway should be forced to conduct Gay Weddings or any kind of Wedding for that matter. It should be their discretion. However, the Conservatives in the United Methodist don’t believe it should be up to a Minister’s discretion whether or not to conduct a Same Sex Wedding. The “Traditional Plan” proposes that any United Methodist Minister who conducts a legal Gay Wedding should be suspended WITHOUT PAY for one whole year. On the other, the “One Church Plan” specifically protects Ministers who refuse to perform Gay Weddings. The “One Church Plan” also allows Ministers to conduct these weddings as long as the Church voted to approve these. The Conservatives falsely claim that the “One Church Plan” discriminates against them. All it does is to prevent them from imposing their view on the rest of the Church. The “Traditional Plan” also violates the fundamental principle of a Pastor’s discretion.

  • It is like the Board of Global Ministries in the United Methodist Church moved from an expensive New York City location to a less expensive location in a Church here in Atlanta.

  • God is the Creator of all things, even darkness and evil (Isaiah 45:7). 1 Timothy 4:4-5 states that “everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with Thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.” We might think, for instance, that insects and germs are “evil,” yet the life chain is absolutely dependent on them. Some people might want to wipe out insects and bacteria like they might want to eliminate homosexuality and transgenderism from the world. Perhaps the purpose of homosexuality is to help put a brake on unlimited population growth and perhaps for Gay people to help other people raise their children, either through their relatives, but also through the taxes they pay for schools, etc. Another purpose of Gay people might be to adopt those children that no one else wants.

  • This is not the least bit complicated.

    The First Amendment guarantees the right to hold and practice a religion.

    Gussying up some condition under which that right should be parked by calling it “discrimination” is an attempt to do an end run around the First Amendment.

    Clergy, of course, cannot be compelled by the state to perform any religious function at all for the same reason – the First Amendment.

    Those in the United Methodist Church who don’t believe it should be up to a minister’s discretion whether or not to conduct a same sex marriages base that on the plain words of Scripture and the church’s existing adherence to it.

    There is no bona fide “Pastor’s discretion” outside of a single congregation in a single building under a single pastor unassociated with any other body.

    Even a congregational church like the Southern Baptist Convention will disfellowship those that decide to go their own way.

  • The United Brethren Church lost out when they joined up with the Methodist Church. The Brethren were always a small but Biblical group while the Methodists have always been less so (I’ve attended both churches). Now the LGBTQ community is trying to change the United Methodist Church’s stance on sexuality because the LGBTQ community doesn’t want to acknowledge and accept basic Christian scripture. Better for the Brethren to leave the Methodists than ignore the Bible.

  • You took Timothy 4:4-5 out of context, thus destroying its meaning altogether.

    Perhaps acting on homosexual impulses, like acting on kleptomania or homicidal rages, is handing one’s self over to the Prince of Darkness.

  • Decriminalizing homosexuality is a civil matter – a legal construct. Christian disapproval of homosexuality is a religious matter – a faith construct. Either you believe the Christian Bible or you don’t – end of argument.

  • SOME physicians pushed parents to surgically alter children, others did not.

    Johns Hopkins was the center of gender operations, and the results were horrific.

    https://www{DOT}hrw.org/report/2017/07/25/i-want-be-nature-made-me/medically-unnecessary-surgeries-intersex-children-us#

    The spark plug for this disaster was NOT a physician but a psychologist, John William Money, who established the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in 1965

  • It can be wrong, but not always wrong to act on homosexual impulses. All inclinations come from God, but we are to use these impulses for the good. Why not Google “yetzer ra and yetzer tob,” which is the good and bad inclinations. The “bad” inclinations weren’t meant to be eliminated, but used for the good. Anger, for instance, can be very destructive, but can be channeled to good ends.

  • Yes, I believe you are quite correct in your explanation. A blind respect for the judgments of so-called “professionals” caused suboptimum results for a lot of individual children, and worse, caused society to be largely unaware of something it should have been taught to understand, acknowledge and treat with considerable empathy. We would have had then, and would have now, far better churches if they had been forced to notice and admit that God produced in Creation varying degrees of sexual abnormalities (from slight to extreme) about as often as He produced children with red hair (which also varies in shades from kinda reddish to carrot top).

  • No, all inclinations do not come from God: Matthew 4:2-10, Ephesians 2:2-3, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Genesis 3:1-5, Isaiah 14:12-15, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Ephesians 6:12, James 4:7, 1 John 2:13-14, and so on.

    This summarizes them all:

    James 1: 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.

  • Actually, Mark gave you an excellent example of Gay Goliath’s existence & hatred of Christians. (The ongoing Jack Phillips case, of course. I would add the astonishing Baronelle Stutzmann case — a Gay Goliath hate classic. No use trying to whitewash Goliath with THESE cases on the table. Goliath’s done this mess in at least 10 or 11 states.)

    In the Bible, Israel’s foe Goliath (1) is a powerful giant, (2) is well-armed, (3) is angry, (4) knows how to win with both physical & psychological warfare, (5) is utterly opposed to the people of God, (6) is brazenly standing on the property of the people of God and has no intention of “going away”, (7) he wanna make the people of God into compliant slaves.

    So welcome to Gay Goliath 2019. A movement, not a person, but clearly the same gig. Goliath’s representatives in the UMC? Nice folks, but VERY devoted to Goliath. So check out Juicy Ecumenism’s fact-checking on the damage that Goliath will do if the so-called “One Church Plan” is passed. https://juicyecumenism.com/2018/07/24/liberal-umc-bishops-plan-part-1-summary/

  • God did not create human sin/death.

    “He created all things that they might exist,
    and the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
    and there is not destructive poison in them;
    and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
    For righteousness is immortal.

    But ungodly men by their words and deeds summoned death.
    Considering him a friend, they pined away,
    and they made a covenant with him
    because they are fit to belong to his party.” (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14-16)

    “By their words and deeds”, LGBTs have made a covenant with death.

  • It seems like this will be mixing up the ‘all are welcome’ with ‘this behavior is welcome’ There is almost no way to ignore messages about homosexuality in the Bible (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 & 20, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1). By sanctioning the behavior, the UMC will put itself, not The Bible, as center of Christian teaching. I’ve always loved the message that all are welcome. A Christian church needs to be inclusive and open to all who want to participate. If a church is based on The Bible, it has to define sinful behavior. If a church is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ, then it’s about living in relationship with Him. This vote will be about the role The Bible plays in the UMC. Those who want a more biblically-based church will object to The One Church Plan (which is shady in the naming itself – that seems like it should be a bigger issue). Those who favor a more permissive church, perhaps focused more on the relationship with Jesus – although that was not John Wesley’s approach – will object to the Traditional Plan. Letting every church decide will perhaps eventually make the UMC more like Buddhism: here is a method for living that will bring you closer to the divine. Whatever happens, it will certainly not make everyone happy.

  • The fact that they have LGBTQ “members” already says a lot about them. They have already seriously departed from what scripture teaches.

  • You managed to find all of one person who affirms the Traditional Plan. That sure is balanced reporting. lol

  • Thanks for this roundup. I must say that I don’t have high hopes for the continued existence of the UMC in its current form. I won’t leave: I was raised in the church & I’m prepared to go down with the ship. My attitude is that if you abandon the church because the leadership is too worldly, you’re more worldly than the leadership. My own solution I withhold, for I have none. If this were an easy issue, smarter and better people than me would have solved it by now. But further decline and possible schism seems inevitable, if the church formally embraces the prevailing attitude that Normal is just a setting on the dishwasher, Sinful is just a word on the dessert menu, and Marriage is simply any two people who happen to share sweet feelings and a refrigerator.

  • It’s another case of throwing enough mud against a wall and seeing if anything will stick. Whereas the majority of Fundigelicals like to point out that the LGBTQ community is but a tiny, unimportant minority, Uncle Floyd Lee likes to pretend that we are an unstoppable jaugernaut, such as Goliath from the OT story and his lot are like the small, but rightous, David. And he seems to believe that if he repeats this lie often enough, folks will become confused and believe that he’s telling the truth.

  • The USSC didn’t rule in his favor on the merits of the case, they side-stepped that, they ruled in his favor because his attorneys were able to confuse the court with minutes from a meeting not related to the decision in his case, that the equal rights committee of CO was pedjudiced against his religion in their ruling against him.

    There are cases that may get to the USSC where they may have to decide on the merits of the case, another against the same baker, or one against a flowershop owner in WA State.

  • Public incorporation isn’t involved.

    Having a business that serves the public requires a business license is the case, which the baker does. In CO, if one has a business license, one cannot discriminate against LGBTQ folks regarding the goods and/or services that one sells. That will be the merit of the case and that has not been decided by the USSC.

    As to Connely’s opinion about UMC clergy, congregations, conferences, etc, it is just that, his opinion. He isn’t a member of the UMC and he only knows as much about the UMC as he reads.

  • Oh, I’ve never said that **you**, as one of the allies or agents of Gay Goliath, are part of an unstoppable juggernaut. No way.

    Gay Goliath is quite stoppable at the personal, church, family, denominational, and political levels, just as the old Philistine Goliath was defeated.

    And it’s so easy to beat him next week: Just vote for the Plan that agrees with the Bible (the Traditional Plan) and Goliath drops to the floor. Finito.

    But let there be NO doubt: next week the Meths will either choose “Finito” for Gay Goliath, or else they automatically choose “Finito” for THEMSELVES.

  • I am not a legal expert, so I thank you for informing me on the precise requirements for businesses. But perhaps I had the general idea that if a business has some kind of permit, that they have to serve all of the public. I just misnamed it incorporation.

  • The Court didn’t make a definitive ruling on way or the other. But it didn’t, as the other side claimed, persecute this person for his religion. I wouldn’t be as hopeful about any future case before the Supreme Court, because 45 has placed two Conservatives on the Court. Kennedy, who might have voted in favor of Gays has been replaced by Kavanaugh, who probably will vote against us.

  • Very true what you say. We just need to publicly challenge him whenever he repeats this lie. Or at least I hope challenging the lie publicly will help.

  • Amazing how there’s actually no discussion in this article about what the Bible (Old and New Testament) actually says about human sexuality – to include homosexuality.

    It’s all about the ‘horse race’, just like mainstream media articles about ‘controversial issues’.

    Also not discussed is the perspective of African delegates, who make up a very large bloc of voting delegates.

    So, overall I’m very disappointed about this article’s tone and lack of real ‘inclusion’ of opinion within the (global) denomination.

  • “United Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto ” Is she the one who was charged with impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident? Isn’t she the one the church tried to have removed? Is she not the one who was charged with heresy by her assembly?

  • a few of the scripture on homosexuality:1 Thessalonians 4:3-8New International Version (NIV)

    3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

    Galatians 5:19-21

    New International Version (NIV)

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Ephesians 5:31

    New Living Translation (NLT)

    31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

    Colossians 3:5

    New Living Translation (NLT)

    5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.

    2 Peter 2:6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

    Ephesians 5:24-25 New International Version (NIV)

    24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

    Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

    Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.20 These are what defile you.

    Revelation 2:20 International Standard Version (ISV)

    20 But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and who teaches and leads my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

    Revelation 21:8 ESV

    But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    Revelation 22: 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    My favourite: 1 Corinthians 11:11New King James Version (NKJV) 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

    BIBLICAL SUMMARY OF HOMOSEXUALITY

    • A wicked act (Gen 19:7; Judges 19:23)

    • An abomination (Lev 18:22; Lev. 18:26; Lev. 18:27; Lev. 18:29; Lev. 18:30; Lev. 20:13)

    • Folly (Judges 19:23)

    • A vile act (Judges 19:24)

    • A vile affection (Rom 1:26)

    • An act against nature (Rom 1:26)

    • An abusive act (1 Cor 6:9)

    • A sin against one’s own body (1 Cor 6:18)

    • An act that defiles (Lev. 18:24; Lev. 18:25; Lev. 18:27; Lev. 18:28; Lev. 18:30; 1 Tim 1:9)

    • Those that practice it shall not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor 6:9-10; Jude 1:7; Jude 1:13; Rev. 21:8; Rev. 21:27)

    (many thanks to Adam in Christ for this excellent summary)

  • A few of the scripture on homosexuality:

    – Read John 1:1 and Genesis 1:26 to provide the understanding that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

    Deuteronomy 29: 22 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the Lord has made it sick— 23 the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath— 24 all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ 25 Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt,

    Ephesians 5:5 – For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    Ephesians 5:5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

    Matthew 5:17New King James Version (NKJV)

    17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

    Genesis 2:18Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit fore him.” 19Now out of the ground the LORD God had formedf every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adamg there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he madeh into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

    “This at last is bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

    she shall be called Woman,

    because she was taken out of Man.”i

    24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

    Genesis 2:24 – Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. –

    Deuteronomy 25:5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. (It is always male and female)

    Isaiah 3:9 – The look on their countenance witnesses against them,

    And they declare their sin as Sodom;

    They do not hide it.

    Woe to their soul!

    For they have brought evil upon themselves.

    Jeremiah 23:14English Standard Version (ESV)

    14

    But in the prophets of Jerusalem

    I have seen a horrible thing:

    they commit adultery and walk in lies;

    they strengthen the hands of evildoers,

    so that no one turns from his evil;

    all of them have become like Sodom to me,

    and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”

    Leviticus 18:22 – 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

    Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    Acts 15:19-20New International Version (NIV)

    19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

    1 Kings 14:24 New International Version (NIV)

    24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. – what do male prostitutes do? Abominations.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11English Standard Version (ESV)
    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
    1 Corinthians 6:18
    New International Version Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

    1 Corinthians 7: 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

    1 Corinthians 10:8English Standard Version (ESV)
    8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

  • No, that was another Bishop in another denomination … Episcopal Suffragen Bishop Heather Cook (well, about the DUI hit and run that is).

  • It’s important to remember that this conference is not about “issues” or “plans” or “rules”. It’s about people. Not just LGBTQ people, but their parents, and families and church families. In many cases, it has to do with the children of LGBTQ people who are already married. Whatever is decided – to maintain or strengthen tradition or to simply remove the idea that sexual orientation has any role to play in membership or ordained ministry – my prayer is that the delegates to the UMC remember that they are followers of Jesus who said, “A new commandment I give you, love one another as I have loved you.”

  • Anyone is free to leave and go to a Presbyterian type church that looks fondly upon those who pack fudge.

  • If they (clergy here) turn their backs on the Bible’s clear views of what is a sinful abomination, there will be nothing holding me in the church of my birth. I will shake the dust off my feet and head for the exit.

  • The sinner should be welcomed, but should also be encouraged to turn away from their sins instead of encouraged to continue sodomizing one another. What’s next, bestiality in the church? Predators and pedophilia? Today’s taboos will be become tomorrow’s cause celeb.

  • You mean hoax crimes like the recent high profile one in Chicago. When will you on the left stop demonizing straight people and Trump voters. It’s disgusting the way the left lies and follows Satan.

  • Gay Goliath the cry-bully.

    Most congregants who are still in the pews do not want extra-biblical sexual innovations in leadership positions. I always wondered why gay couples didn’t create their own unions, rather than insist on culturally appropriating heterosexual customs.

    Yet, to voice these opinions will bring out the hysterical, spurious, frenzied accusations of hate. So they acquiesce, until they get the privacy of the ballot. Then they vote the cry-bullies out of power and far away from that $20B + “pension fund”.

    Just because you’re gay, you don’t get to dominate the UMC. You are not entitled.

    Hillary lost. The same people who expected to bully Bible-believing parishioners in St Louis believed that Hillary would win and the gravy train would roll into their station. Piles of money and power. Clinton Foundation. Hillary as Methodist Pope.

    Poor Adam Hamilton chokes up. No more $100M behemoths and cozy trips to the WH for you!! Sweet.

  • Should I be allowed to require you to bake an anti-gay cake? I only ask this as a hypothetical, as it wouldn’t occur me to bully an artist in this way. Only radical Christophobes try to bully artists in this fashion.

  • Be careful of that word “partner”… it doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does.

  • Ask about the $20B “pension fund”… specifically ask the right reverend Adam Hamilton.

  • African Americans have come around on this issue and now a majority support Gay Marriage. Africans weren’t born homophobic. They learned it from western imperialists.

  • Hillary’s loss DID motivate Democrats a lot. When Reagan and W were first elected, it took the Democrats 6 years to take back any House of Congress. This time it took only two. Similarly, a lot of people were “asleep” while the Right wing forces were trying to turn the United Methodist Church into being like the Southern Baptist Convention. I think this last General Conference has woken up Methodists like they have never been woken up before. The Gay Affirming United Methodist Church I go to usually has about 250 on Sunday. We had a protest the General Conference decision service today and there was close to 600 people there. Many Churches have come out against this decision. Scores are upset about it like never before.
    By the way, Adam Hamilton accepts Gay people, and his Church is the largest in the Denomination.

  • You have missed the whole point of the Gospel of Christ. Let go of your hate and choose to love your neighbor as yourself – including your neighbor whom God created gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or intersex.

  • Some of what “scripture teaches” is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ. Let go of your hate.

  • The fact that intersex people are only a small minority of people does not make them less human, or less worthy of being treated as fellow human beings.

  • Nobody (including you) agrees with everything that is in the Bible. Everybody, without exception, picks and chooses. The only issue is the basis for picking and choosing. Do we choose based on love, or based on fear and ignorance?

  • God created all people, not only heterosexual people. God creates most people heterosexual. God creates some people gay or lesbian. God creates some people bisexual. God creates some people transgender. God creates some people intersex. God does not hate or reject any of God’s creation. Please do likewise.

  • When you are tempted to hate your gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or intersex neighbor, please refrain from claiming that your hate is compatible with the Gospel of Christ. It is not.

  • God created all people, but he did not create sexual sins. Man did that.

    See my previous post.

  • I follow the Lord Jesus Christ. You choose to spurn His Word.

    No man who spurns His Word can claim to follow Christ our God.

    Let go of your hate for Jesus and His Word. You have not yet done so.

  • Of course Hamilton is the richest, most powerful Methodist in the world. But very soon the Clinton Foundation corruption and its ties to radicals in the UMC will be exposed.

  • It’s alway/always/always about the money. Methodist clergy obsess about that $20B “pension fund” and Clintonistas like Hamilton want to access and control that money. How do you think he got $100M to build that monstrosity in Kansas City? Political connections to Democrats.

  • What does it mean to vote “against” gays? Don’t you just want to bully and dominate Christians until they validate and praise your chosen way of life?

    You got gay “marriage”— when you should have gone for civil unions. Then that made you so very happy that you had to seek out Christian pastry artists for ruination and abuse.

  • It makes their row tougher to how, but it does not grant them an exemption from the moral laws.

  • But I did get to see that weasel Adam Hamilton blubber like Jimmy Swaggert over his lost power and riches. Think I’ll watch it again…

  • I just don’t want Fundagelical bullies to come into MY Church which accepts Gay people and tell us we can’t welcome Gays. None of the progressive plans in the United Methodist Church proposed penalties on Churches that did not want to conduct Gay weddings. Being Gay is not a choice. I was Gay in my feelings LONG before I engaged in any homosexual acts. For a long time, I didn’t accept my feelings. I now do. It is NOT a “lifestyle.” Everybody has a different “lifestyle.” It is much more a matter of feelings and attractions than it is of “lifestyle.” The Baker could NOT legally discriminate against Gays in Colorado since he had a business license. It is a different story if it is a Church. Churches can legally discriminate. Businesses should not be allowed to.

  • Trump is far more corrupt than Clinton. Fundamentalism is tied in with bigotry and prejudice. The religious right started because they wanted their racially segregated schools to get a tax break.

  • Trump admin is trying to be advocates to decriminalize homosexuality in African countries. Gays have much worse conditions in Islamic countries. But then, Islam is a natural ally of progressives.

  • Speak for your parcel-tongued self. There are many solo scripturas out here among you Sorta Scripturas

  • I don’t agree with progressives on many Islamic countries including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, because of the Gay issue. Israel is much better for Gays. However, there are good Islamic individuals on the Gay issue. Most Muslims in this country now accept Gay Marriage.

  • The aim and end of Soros and his paid minions is the destruction of the nuclear family and all of Western Civilization. He’s a destroyer like Satan, seeking who he can devour.

    But there is also the UMC fortune, which rivals Warren Buffett.

  • The conference was about money and the Democrat party. Once you see that, it can’t be unseen.

  • It might be from one of the “hadiths” or sayings of Muhammad outside of the Koran. Some Islamic scholars doubt the authenticity of this particular Hadith. They can’t question the Koran itself, however.

  • And the radical left in the UMC just want to control that “pension fund”… maybe to donate more Methodist money to Big Abortion.

  • Actually, there is abundant evidence that the driving force – politically and with buckets of Benjamins – behind the Wesleyan Covenant Association is the IRD (Institute on Religion and Democracy). Google them.

  • Why do you want people (artists) to be forced to create something that is offensive to them, against their conscience? Does dominating the Christians satisfy something in you?

    YOU’RE THE BULLY here. Having gained the legal right to “marry”, and in so doing change the meaning of the word in the minds of others, (but never, really)why not enjoy marrying and accept that there are many who will disapprove?

    Maybe you’re unhappy for other reasons? Suing a baker is hate. Particularly since these lawsuits are clearly a targeted set up!! A conspiracy to harass a Christian. Shame on you.

    Maybe you hate those who won’t validate and praise at a sufficient volume?

    Maybe you’re the hater.

    This is mental illness.

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