Some of you may have come across the news regarding the United Methodist Church’s postponement of the General Conference session. In pre-pandemic times, the United Methodist Church as a worldwide denomination meets once every four years to decide matters related to church governance, set budgets, elect leaders including bishops. That was supposed to happen in May of 2020 but was delayed on account of the pandemic to 2021 and then delayed once more to September of 2022. Two weeks ago, the announcement was made that the session would be postponed a third time on account of continued health and safety concerns as well as the lengthy delays involved in obtaining visas for delegates to the conference coming from countries outside the US.
One of the most pressing matters to be addressed by the General Conference was the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation a proposal that provided a process for allowing congregations and even annual conferences to leave the current denomination in order to form one or more new denominations. The Protocol would create a path for churches to leave the current denomination and take church property with them along with $25 million of United Methodist funds. The Wesleyan Covenant Association (or WCA) has advocated such a separation and the creation of a new “traditionalist” denomination, called the Global Methodist Church, which would ban the celebration of same-sex marriages and the ordination of gays and lesbians. The WCA announced that they will go ahead with the launching of the Global Methodist Church on May 1 of this year even without the adoption of the Protocol.
The delay in holding the General Conference is both understandable and regrettable. Since more than half of the members of the United Methodist Church are outside the U.S., it is absolutely necessary that the session be held in a way in which every duly elected delegate can fully take part. However, this further delay prevents the people called Methodists from moving past the current acrimony towards some greater resolution. This seems to be one more example of the church being divided and our witness falling short.
If you want to know more about this matter, you can use the links below. I share these resources without endorsing the perspective or opinion they contain.
In the meantime, we can still work together, side by side, and hand in hand to bring light and hope and love where God has placed us.
-Pastor Steve Larsen