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#GC2019 Primer no.2

This is the second in a multi-week series to help us be informed about and prepare for the Special Session of General Conference to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri (aka #GC2019).

Find Primer no.1 here.

Last week we linked to the three main plans sent to #GC2019 by the Commission on the Way Forward, noting that the One Church Plan is the primary and preferred plan. But earlier this week, the UMC announced that a total of 78 plans will be considered. 78!

You see, last May the Judicial Council ruled petitions could be filed by any organization, clergy or lay member of The United Methodist Church if the business proposed to be transacted is in harmony with the purpose, which is “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon recommendations of the Council of Bishops.” 78 such petitions were ruled to be in harmony. Click here for a flowchart on that process.

Ugh. That's a ton of material to sort through. So, as I prefer to do in times like these, let's turn to the wisdom of our young people. I find they often see through most of our older adult nonsense and cynicism to the essence of the issues. Here's what UMC Youth People have to say. There's a tremendous wealth of insight at that link, I really hope you'll take the time to read through it. 

They conclude with a Statement of Unity, from which we all could learn:

We, as the Young People of the United Methodist Church, agree to be united in Spirit as one body of Christ, despite the diversity of culture, tradition, political ideologies, language, beliefs, nationalities, and personal identities, as we believe that we are all God’s creation and our primary identity is being God’s children.


As young people, we love The United Methodist Church, the unity it offers, and how it welcomes all people, regardless of who they are and what they do in life.


We recognize and celebrate the diversity that comes from being in a global United Methodist connection. We view each person as an essential part of the body of Christ, which is the Church, and that God loves each of us far beyond what we can imagine.


With that, we believe that God's love is engrained in us and part of our identity as United Methodists.

We stand against the spirit of hatred, judgment, and discrimination which creates division instead of unity.


We pray that through the Holy Spirit we can remain united as a body that continues to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Leave your questions about any of this in the comments below and I will do my best to respond to them in a future post. 





GC2019 Primer #1

As promised last month, today we begin a series of posts intended to get us ready for General Conference 2019 (aka GC2019) which will take place at the end of February in St. Louis. In some ways, this Special Session of the General Conference is a new approach. In other ways, it is the latest iteration of a conversation (or, perhaps more accurately, argument) that has been going on in the United Methodist Church for over 40 years. 

This whole undertaking is rather "inside baseball", so apologies in advance for multitudinous UMC geekery. (Ironic, coming from me.) Here's a very brief overview from an extremely high altitude. 

I don't know all the ins and outs of UMC polity, so I certainly do't expect all of you to either. So let's define some terms.

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. It meets every four years. 

Commission on a Way Forward  was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. 

But how did we get to the point where we (the UMC) needed to create the Commission on a Way Forward and a Special Session of General Conference to hear the Commission's report?

UMC pastor and frequent blogger, the Rev. Jeremy Smith, has a very well written post that answers that question -- and does so in just 1000 words! (Who knew pastors could achieve such brevity??) He wrote it back in July, so it's not 100% updated.

The most important update from Rev. Smith's post is that the Commission has completed its work, offering the One Church Plan as the Way Forward in unity. It gets really, really deep in the weeds, but you can read the entire report here.

Last note for this first Primer post on GC2019. Despite all the work of the Commission and their recommendation of the One Church Plan, a few other plans will also be considered. Here's an excellent comparison of the three main proposals: One Church Plan, Connectional Conference Plan, and "Traditionalist" Plan put side by side by side. (Note: the lines on that comparison matrix that are crossed out were ruled unconstitutional.)

That's a lot of homework, I know. But we only have six weeks until GC2019, meaning there's a lot to learn and consider before then. Especially if you, like me, haven't been aware of most of this until now.

What questions does all this raise for you? Leave your questions in the comments and I'll respond as best as I am able. 

Look for Primer #2 next week!

Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with
Tags: gc2019