Bishops Change Call for General Conference

By Thomas Lambrecht

In a press release issued today, the Council of Bishops announced it is changing the call for the special General Conference to be held in St. Louis in February 2019. This change is a technical correction based on the recent Judicial Council decision that allowed other petitions to be submitted to the special General Conference.

The original call described the General Conference as convening to receive and act upon a report from the Council of Bishops. The Judicial Council ruled that the bishops were not asked to make a report or submit legislation to General Conference and therefore lacked the authority to do so.

The report coming to the General Conference is now coming from the Commission on a Way Forward, not from the Council of Bishops. That means that all three plans (One Church, Connectional Conference, and Traditional) will be equally presented. It means that legislation for all three plans has been submitted to General Conference. It means that the bishops’ recommendation for the One Church Plan is no longer the controlling focus in the report, but is contained in an appendix to the report.

Because of this change in who is submitting the report, the bishops also needed to change the “call.” The official language for why the General Conference is meeting is important because it governs what business can be transacted at the conference. Anything not covered by the call cannot be acted upon unless it receives a two-thirds majority vote. So if the bishops had not changed the call, the General Conference could not have acted upon the Commission’s report because it was not in the original call.

From my perspective as a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, all of these developments are positive because it allowed the Traditional Plan to be put forward in its entirety and on an equal basis with the other plans. It allows the delegates to General Conference to consider all the options that have been developed. Even amicable separation can be considered because a petition to allow such can now be submitted (and has been submitted) to General Conference.

In an unrelated development, we continue to wait for the release of the full report of the Commission on a Way Forward, which includes the accompanying legislation. It has not been released by the July 8 deadline because of issues with translation. It is expected that a statement will be issued in the next couple days that will explain the delay and forecast a new release date. Meanwhile, Good News intends to begin talking about the details of the three plans, so that the church can begin to consider a faithful way forward without being endlessly put off by administrative delays.

The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News. 


  1. It would be nice to see what petitions have been submitted. Since the deadline has passed we should know that by now.

  2. David F Miller says

    It seems the progressive’s plan to force a vote on only one plan, their plan, is going astray. The 2019 Conference will likely see disruptions as the ONE CHURCH plan is defeated. I have to wonder if the Bishops, knowing their plans are going no where, will postpone or even cancel the 2019 Conference. This will allow them to continue operating in defiance of the BOD and the Bible for another year at least. In that time dozens more gay/lesbian clergy will be appointed as well as another gay/lesbian Bishop. I do not think we Methodists will see a resolution to our division anytime soon.

  3. David F Miller says

    Now that the progressives have lost control of the 2019 agenda and all three plans must be considered, as well as any others that may be submitted, will the Bishops postpone or cancel the 2019 Conference to avoid a defeat. This way they can continue to operate in defiance of the BOD and the Bible while ordaining dozens of gay/lesbian clergy and additional Bishops.
    I see the 2019 Conference devolving into chaos if the One Church plan is defeated. Can there be a good end to this trouble?

  4. The Rev. R. David ("Pastor Dave") Reynolds says

    THANK YOU, JESUS, AMEN!!!!!!! This is the BEST news I’ve read on this issue all year. Here are some thoughts I posted earlier today on Facebook because I a so depressed over this. Now my hope is renewed. However, this is where I have been all these years on this issue: I have fought for Scriptural Holiness in the UMC, particularly on this issue but across the board as well, since the Atlanta General Conference in May of 1972, the end of my middler year at Asbury Theological Seminary. Now this, for me, may just prove to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I am TIRED OF THE FIGHT, READY TO THROW IN THE TOWEL, switch over to Free Methodist, Wesleyan, Nazarene, or maybe even Anglican Church in America. With reprobate bishops, conferences, jusrisdictions, board of the ministry, etc. defying the HOLY WORD OF GOD, I’ve had just about all I can take. Please do tell me, however, the United Methodist Facebook page where I first saw this article today. Thanks for your help.–David Reynolds, “Pastor Dave,” Retired clergy Illinois Great Rivers Conference

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