Over the last four weeks or so, we've talked with some frequency about the deliberations, statements, and counter-statements stemming from the United Methodist Church's 2016 General Conference. That General Conference appointed a Commission on the Way Forward. After two years of work, that Commission sent proposals to the Council of Bishops. That Council made a statement about its report. Then came the counter-statements, clarifying statements, and a Judicial Council ruling.
If you're not even a little confused by all that...I applaud you. Because I have trouble following it all. In case you do too, I'm attempting to put the original documents here for you.
Here's part of that first statement after the Council of Bishops concluded their work on the proposals:
"Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 that includes:
- All three plans (The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan) for a way forward considered by the Commission and the Council.
- The Council’s recommendation of the One Church Plan.
- An historical narrative of the Council’s discernment process regarding all three plans.
Rationale: In order to invite the church to go deeper into the journey the Council and Commission have been on, the Council will make all the information considered by the Commission and the Council of Bishops available to the delegates of the General Conference and acknowledges there is support for each of the three plans within the Council. The values of our global church are reflected in all three plans. The majority of the Council recommends the One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church."
In summary: the bishops agreed to recommend the One Church Plan. Read the full statement here.
A couple days later, our Northern Illinois Conference Bishop, the Rev. Dr. Sally Dyck, released a statement:
"The Council received the report from the Commission on the Way Forward (COTWF) and discerned our recommendation to the called session of the General Conference in February 2019 (GC19). For 4 days we discerned what our recommendation would be. We reviewed all three plans given to us by the COTWF, discussed them, provided pros and cons to each of them, and finally discerned our decision.
We recommended to the GC19 one plan: The One Church Plan. There was substantial support for it" (emphasis hers).
But, as Bishop Dyck wrote, "some have been confused by the [Council of Bishop's] press release." So the Council offered this clarifying statement.
Finally, about a week later, Judicial Council released its ruling on whether or not petitions other than that from the Council of Bishops will be allowed: "The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled that other petitions — in addition to legislation from the Council of Bishops — can be submitted for the 2019 special session of General Conference."
So, all caught up?
What questions do you have about all this?
Leave them in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them. Or find someone else who can.
In a future post, we'll look at some of the reactions to all this from around the denomination.