Annual Conference Report
Bold and Effective Leaders: Wisdom, Heart, Courage was the theme for The 2019 Michigan Annual Conference. Wow! What a busy, exciting, thought provoking, worship filled, stressful, comforting four-days! Each day began with worship. It was so awesome to be in a room filled with 2,000 Christians worshiping our Lord.
Teaching sessions were presented by: Becca Farnum, Environmentalist, Peacebuilder, Educator; and Kristen Grauer, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State, P.K. (Preacher’s Kid) turned Diplomat.
Worship Preachers were: Laura Witkowski, Associate Director for Lay Leadership; and Rev. Dr. Jennie Browne. Some of you will remember Jennie’s time serving at Reed City UMC. All the speakers and worship preachers were amazing.
The conference has made video available of all the speakers. Let me know if you are interested in watching the videos, or if you have any questions about Annual Conference. There was much business to be done and lots of prayers went up asking for the Lord’s guidance. One of the resolutions brought before us for discussion and a vote was submitted by Bethany Maciejewski. Her submission was: Redefining what it means to be “Handicap Accessible.” I am happy to say her resolution passed.
There was some discussion on the 2019 General Conference in regard to the LGTBQ issue. While much is yet undecided and many are fearful that a schism may be a possibility, I would like to paraphrase from Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue, Jr., Greater Detroit District Superintendent, who spoke on Mission Imperative. While we may or may not be facing a schism in the United Methodist Church, it is not the first time in our history nor is it likely be the last time. Yet, we are to continue to do God’s Work — to share the Good News, to bring God to all people, to love all people and to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Cinda Locker, Lay Member to Annual Conference
General Conference Adopts Traditional Plan--2019
On February 26 the General Conference — the global United Methodist Church — adopted the Traditional Plan as the denomination’s stance on human sexuality issues.
The plan continues the church’s current stance by:
Stating that homosexuality is a sin.
Prohibiting pastors from officiating same-gender marriages.
Prohibiting conferences from ordaining practicing lesbian and gay pastors.
In addition to these statements that already were in place in the Book of Discipline, the Traditional Plan puts into place stricter enforcement of these standards, holding pastors, bishops and conferences more accountable.
The plan was narrowly passed by General Conference with 438 yes and 384 no votes.
Bishop David Bard of the Michigan Area Conference has encouraged churches and members disappointed with the outcome to not take any action (i.e., disassociating from the denomination or removing their membership) until after the Judicial Council reviews the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan. The Council, which acts as the church’s Supreme Court, meets April 23-25.
If it rules the plan is unconstitutional by our church by-laws, we will be operating under the legislation approved in 2016 which continues the language above, but removes the enforcement. If the plan is upheld by the Council, changes take place January 1, 2020.
This General Conference was a specially called session because of divided opinions about LGBTQIA issues raised at the 2016 General Conference. When delegates asked the Council of Bishops for direction for the future of our church, the Bishops convened a special commission called A Way Forward. For two years the commission met to re-examine the denomination’s stance on human sexuality and explore options to strengthen our unity.
The commission presented three proposals to General Conference. The Bishops and a majority of United Methodists in the United States supported the One Church Plan, which would have allowed individual churches and pastors to decide what was right for their ministry and congregations based on their context. In the initial setting of priorities for legislation, however, the Traditional Plan was advanced while the One Church Plan failed due to lack of a majority vote.
General Conference meets again in May 2020, at which time the One Church Plan could be reconsidered.