Restating for Clarification

In his highly readable assessment of the 2012 General Conference published in The United Methodist Reporter, Bishop Will Willimon expresses his frustration at the failure of the General Conference to support the Call to Action plan touted by the Council of Bishops. (Click HERE to read his column.)

“The bishops’ accomplishments? The Methodist Federation for Social Action received new life, the Board of Church and Society went home unscathed by reform, and Good News and an unlikely clutch of agitation groups united against the bishops.”

It was that last snippet that had us scratching our heads. As we made crystal clear before and during General Conference, Good News did not endorse any of the restructuring plans.

“Perhaps the most anticipated issue to face the 2012 General Conference is the proposal to restructure the church. The Interim Operations Team proposal, as put into legislative form by the Connectional Table, is an at- tempt to implement some of the ideas contained in the

Call to Action Report. There is also the very thoughtful proposal called Plan B, as well as another proposal from the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). There are good people and smart minds behind all these initiatives. Neither Good News nor the Renewal and Reform Coalition (RRC) has endorsed a specific plan. The RRC affirms the emphasis on local church vitality and increased accountability.”

That was the statement we published in one of our daily Focus handouts at General Conference, which speaks well of the intentions of all who worked on the three plans and made public our decision not to endorse a plan. Looking back on it, we don’t know how we could have made it clearer.

One of the reasons we wanted to clear up this misunderstanding and misstatement is that Bishop Willimon’s comments caused some confusion among a handful of our good friends, giving the false impression that we helped torpedo restructuring efforts at General Conference. Another reason we wanted to address this issue is that some of the Good News staff privately endorsed the bishops’ plan in conversation with colleagues.

As a ministry, we are sticking by our original plan to resist endorsing one of the plans because good people of all theological stances could favor or oppose any of the three on pragmatic grounds. Even leaving Tampa without a restructuring plan, that is still true.

–Good News Editorial Team