A total of three plans are to be discussed for the Methodist Church’s future.
The upcoming three-day meeting of the top legislative assembly of the United Methodist Church (UMC) to be convened on February 24 will in all probability determine whether the second biggest Protestant denomination in the United States will split due to differences in opinions regarding same-sex marriage. Another point of contention is whether gay people should be ordained and serve as clergy. These subjects have gained prominence with the scenario of only the UMC banning them. Other standard Protestant denominations like the Presbyterian (USA) and Episcopal churches have already welcomed pro-gay practices. The UMC, however, faces a potential revolt, with pro-LGBT clergy openly talking about defying the top legislative counsel. There is also the possibility of the church breaking up on these lines.
The meeting is a special one, with a total of 864 delegates attending from all over the world. The profile of the attendees is evenly divided between the clergy and laity. The delegates preside over 12.6 million church members scattered all over the world. A total of three plans are up for consideration. These three are described in a report containing the church's Commission and details several proposals, including one named “Way Forward.”
Among the three plans, the most comprehensive is the Connectional Conference Plan. It is also the toughest to implement, needing multiple years of actions along with additional votes. The five American regional bodies would be substituted by three connectional conferences crafted as per a particular stance on sexuality. Any regional bodies located outside U.S. borders could attend any one of the three connectional conferences or begin their own connectional conference. The number of conferences in total should not exceed eight.
Prayers for the UMC. https://t.co/hGn46OThQp
— Marty Dunbar (@martydunbar) February 21, 2019
The second plan is the One Church Plan. It will edit the Book of Discipline so that the ban on same-sex weddings is lifted and the same can be done by United Methodist clergy. The event can also be held in the UM churches. The edit will change the present definition of marriage of a traditional meaning as a union of a man and a woman. The individual clergy could decide whether to officiate at a wedding. There would be no need for Conferences to consecrate or ordain any bishops or ministers. This plan has the backing of a majority of bishops.
The third plan is the Traditional Plan. The latter will keep unchanged the present edition of Book of Discipline and strengthen its enforcement.