Presented By: Rev. Dr. William B. Lawrence
This workshop looks at the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, which will meet in Minnesota from May 5 through May 15, 2020. As the global assembly with legislative authority for the denomination, the 864 delegates from United Methodist annual conferences in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, are a body of clergy and laity to enact church laws, propose amendments to the Constitution, set the denominational budget, adopts the official orders of worship for use in the church, and other matters.
But the 2020 General Conference may be the decisive gathering that determines the future of the institution. For decades, The United Methodist Church has been debating homosexuality. Beginning in 1972, the General Conference declared that homosexuality to be “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and since then it has enacted increasingly stringent laws directed against homosexual persons and practices. At a special session of the General Conference in February 2019, those laws were retained and reinforced with legislation contained in what was called the “Traditional Plan” for the denomination. It was adopted by a narrow majority (52% to 48%) of the delegates’ votes. In response to the actions of that special session, congregations and conferences across the church have been discussing options for the organization, including whether it is time to separate the divided factions institutionally rather than to maintain a façade of institutional unity.
This workshop will discuss several proposals that have been submitted to the 2020 General Conference. It will also include a discussion of an alternative possibility, which does not require action by the General Conference.