Author: Mark Holland
It is not surprising that, while meeting in Zurich Switzerland last week, the United Methodist Judicial Council voted unanimously that the One Church Plan was almost completely constitutional while more than 40% of the Traditional Plan was found to be unconstitutional. (The Connectional Conference Plan was not reviewed by the Judicial Council because the authors knew it required eight constitutional amendments.) Here are four lessons that will serve delegates well as we gather in St. Louis in February.
Lesson One: Transparency Matters.
The 2016 General Conference voted to ask the Bishops to lead. The Council of Bishops voted to accept the invitation and presented a plan back to the General Conference. The General Conference accepted the Bishops’ plan which was to table all legislation on human sexuality, form a Commission on the Way Forward, and call a special session of General Conference for just this topic alone. This transparent, deliberate, two-year process delivered the One Church Plan.
By contrast, the Traditional Plan was hastily drafted in May of 2018 by a few anonymous, partisan bishops who refuse to accept the majority of nearly 2/3 of the Council of Bishops, which is trying to hold the whole church together.
Lesson Two: Collaboration Matters:
The Council of Bishops assembled a truly diverse thirty-two-person Commission on the Way Forward that had full representation from across the globe and across the theological spectrum. This group worked for two years to develop relationships and a plan that could hold the church together. The One Church Plan believes there is room in our church for all people, across a whole range of beliefs. This diverse group brought a constitutionally valid compromise that gave everyone a place at the table.
The Supporters of the Traditional Plan are all from one side of the theological spectrum and want to push out everyone who does not agree with them. The lack of credible collaboration created a mess of a plan that the Judicial Council hammered with a unanimous vote.
Lesson Three: Due Process matters.
The One Church Plan was created to find space for everyone and protect the conscience of pastors, churches, bishops, and conferences who disagree on the interpretation of Scripture around homosexuality. Because all voices were at the table, a fair process was discerned that is fully constitutional.
The authors of the Traditional Plan prioritized getting rid of opponents and skipped over due process. The hasty, partisan nature of the plan did not meet constitutional muster. In short, kicking people out should be hard and rare, not the primary aim of a plan.
Lesson Four: Mission matters.
The mission of the One Church Plan is to find a place for everyone and to support the unity of the church “To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.”
The mission of the Traditional Plan is to re-organize the church around one issue—human sexuality. Somehow, those who claim to want orthodoxy crafted a plan that moved the church away from our central mission and faith in Jesus Christ.
In short, the United Methodist Church is too important and too vital to too many people to be torn apart by the hastily drawn, partisan Traditional Plan. The authors and supporters of the Traditional Plan have ignored all standards of transparency, collaboration, due process, and mission to try to win control of the denomination. The fact that a diverse, conservative leaning Judicial Council unanimously threw out 40% of the Traditional Plan should give delegates pause when it comes to the floor of General Conference.
Please support the One Church Plan.