They’re Back, the Traditionalists’ Petitions
Despite serious setbacks before the Council (JCDs 1366, 1375, and 1376), the Calvinists persisted with their petitions, modifying them a little more and presenting them in hopes they would still get passed at GC2019. They were challenged in the General Conference plenary acting as a legislative committee and presented to the Council in a fashion parallel to JCD 1366, so much so that the Council even identified the parallels.
Again, despite some more tweaking of their unconstitutional petitions by the Calvinists, the Council found few if any that actually became constitutional.
In a dissent, there was a concern that the Council was not respecting local churches who decided to leave the annual conference because the Council was maintaining that the conference had a say in their leaving too and could veto the local church’s decision if it chose.
There was no concurring decision countering their argument so let me add my two cents worth. There are two basic points against the dissenters’ argument.
First, the whole point of the Trust Clause is to prevent ill-advised local church decisions regarding properties established or accepted by the conference. That “branding” of the property brought with it an authenticity and reputation of major significance which enhanced the validity of that congregation in the first place. It also brought with it an assurance of having a pastor when a local church’s pastor left for whatever reason.
Second, the United Methodist Church is connectional and not congregational in polity. If we were Baptist, the argument of the dissenters in this case would be appropriate. But the center of our polity is the annual conference (Par. 33) and not the local church. That means the final decisions are made at the annual conference level. Disaffiliation is about a two way relationship between the church and conference, not a one way relationship.
One more note to the dissenters: The unconstitutionality of the Calvinists’ personnel processes is rooted in the basic fact of the heart of our polity being the annual conference and also not the General Conference. I find it interesting that the dissenters to the instant decision chose not to argue against that.