This is the third installment of information on the upcoming
Special Session of the General Conference in February 2019. United Methodist delegates from around the world will decide how to move forward as a denomination around the issue of human sexuality. Below is an explanation of one of the plans, the “Connectional Conferences Model” (considered but not recommended by Council of Bishops)
The Connectional Conferences Model is grounded in a unified core that includes shared doctrine and services, and one Council of Bishops, while creating different branches that would have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization, and justice.
In the U.S., the five geographically distinct jurisdictional conferences would be replaced by three overlapping conferences: one traditional conference, one progressive conference, and one centrist or “uniting” conference. Each annual conference would choose to be a member of one of the three connectional conferences based on their affinity to the conference’s theological stance on homosexuality. Any local church that disagrees with the annual conference decision could vote to join a different branch conference.
Pros of this plan:
· Makes a place for all three viewpoints within the UMC and yet creates
enough separation that there is clarity for each position.
· Conferences and local churches could make a clear choice on human
sexuality and yet enjoy some of the missional advantages of remaining
a global church.
Cons of this plan:
· Creates a complex structure that is more congregational than
· It would take years of administrative work to put this in place—there
would be many constitutional amendments that would be difficult to
ratify in annual conferences around the world.
· Churches may split as they try to determine which branch they will
· Some traditionalists would still be upset that LGBTQ people are being
affirmed in some parts of the UMC.
· Some progressives would still be upset that LGBTQ people are being
discriminated against in the UMC.
For more information, visit www.umc.org and
search “a way forward”.