In the first indicator of the direction of the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, the majority of delegates affirmed the Traditional Plan. In a vote gauging “high priority” vs. “low priority” of various denominational plans, more than 55 percent of the delegates (459 votes) affirmed the Traditional Plan.
Despite what was perceived as a full-court press from the vast majority of North American bishops to pass the One Church Plan, only 48 percent of the assembly (403 votes) considered the OCP a “high priority.”
The Simple Plan, a radical proposal that would have eliminated all Disciplinary language regarding homosexuality, received only 153 votes.
The Connectional Conference Plan, a complicated restructuring of the denomination, mustered only 102 votes.
The Traditional Plan maintains our present position of affirming the worth of all persons and welcoming them to the ministries of the church while supporting our current biblical standards on marriage, ordination, and sexuality. The Traditional Plan has several provisions that need to be voted upon that would allow the church to enforce the Book of Discipline more effectively when pastors and bishops violate our policies. Each of these provisions will need to be approved individually.
The Traditional Plan is most in line with what delegates have supported at every General Conference since 1972. We believe that the Traditional Plan provides the most hopeful path to a faithful future for The United Methodist Church.
Although the General Conference has given indication that it approves the Traditional Plan, we are aware that progressive leaders will attempt to keep the conference from passing the plan. There will be efforts to postpone, amend, and substitute resolutions coming from the floor, seeking to bring work on a Traditional Plan to a standstill. For example, a last minute referral of a half dozen petitions to the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters resulted in the rejection of all but one of those petitions.
Nevertheless, we are gratified that the General Conference prioritized the Traditional Plan, recognizing 2000 years of Christian tradition and the scriptural understanding of sexual ethics. All of this was in spite of the efforts of advocacy groups and bishops focused on changing our views on marriage, ordination, and sexuality.
If passed, the One Church Plan (OCP) would allow every pastor, every congregation, and every annual conference to determine its own sexual ethic. This would be an unwise course of action. Every other mainline denomination that has liberalized its sexual ethics has experienced a dramatic decline in membership and attendance, the loss of numerous congregations and financial resources. It has also sparked lengthy and costly court battles. It’s what we learn from other denominations – all the other denominations – who have gone this way before.
God is good and God is sovereign. We believe God still has plans for the people called Methodist.