Constitutionality of the Various Plans Before General Conference
Other writers have provided information on the three main plans before General Conference meant to deal with the deep divide in our denomination over the practice of homosexuality. They include differing efforts on how to allow amicable separations of congregations, establishing new jurisdictions for each of the two sides in the debate, and more enforcement and punishment for those who disagree with current church law on the matter.
I admire the careful consideration provided to the Council of Bishops’ request. That was very gracious of the Council, considering that the Council turned down a similar request last year because the Council did not see the request taking into account all the options that might be petitioned. I’m sure there was a fear that calling out one or another of the plans as unconstitutional or as “clean” might prejudice the General Conference.
With the plans in their petition form and the establishment of clear limits of any further petitions, the Council gave attention to sorting through everything coming through the Bishops from the Way Forward Commission and noting which petitions among that lot were okay and which were not under church law.
In briefest summary, the Council found the Bishops’ favorite, the One Church Plan,” to be mostly okay. The Council found serious flaws that violate the constitution in the “Traditional Plan.” The third plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, was not examined because it required constitutional changes and the Council cannot take jurisdiction over those kinds of petitions.
If you are interested in those details, the decision is well framed and any editing down as was thought necessary for JCD 1341 (the “Bishop Oliveto” decision) was laid aside. Nerd out on JCD 1366 to your heart’s content. You will also find many articles at the websites of the United Methodist News Service (https://www.umnews.org) and at United Methodist Insight (um-insight.net). You may also find of interest a critique of the Bishops’ favorite plan which while it passed muster with the Council would leave the denomination vulnerable. Go to http://www.wesletspace.net/GC-2029/Critique - One Church Plan.pdf.
This decision will not resolve the tension the 2019 General Conference faces. It puts more pressure on the conservatives to come up with amendments that clean up their petitions and leaves them facing further challenges to the Council if they prevail with their votes. I do not see many moderate to liberal churches leaving to denomination as the conservatives hope if the conservatives win.
What I do see, though, is that by 2028, our successors will bemoan the fact that we wasted decades on the issue of homosexuality while the earth warmed. The latest projections are that the world economy and politics have to change dramatically toward cooling the planet or the life we have known faces EXTINCTION . . . IN OUR LIFETIME.*
I have more to say on how we got here. You can find that in posts I made on my personal blog at www.jerryeckert.blogspot.com.
What I am advocating for in this posting here is that all of the differences of opinion, of tradition, of Biblical understanding, important as they are to who we as individuals feel them to be, pale in light of how rapidly the globe is warming and how soon the damage that is doing will become irreversible. My prayer is that this General Conference will drop this whole controversy and face the most critical issue of our existence, find a collective prophetic voice to face it, and look for ways we can work to save the planet.
*Type “2030 global warming" into any search engine like Google for confirmation.