By: Mark Holland
The United Methodist Church is the closest it has been to fracture since the Civil War. We have engaged in over forty years of contentious struggle around human sexuality with no resolution. The 2016 General Conference voted for a new path. The Conference voted to table all legislation related to human sexuality and asked the Council of Bishops to come up with a plan. The Bishops agreed and engaged in an unprecedented two year, global discernment process. They formed The Way Forward Commission and received their three proposals. Nearly 2/3 of the Bishops have recommended the One Church Plan for approval to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference in St. Louis. This carefully discerned resolution is the best path forward for the church.
Mainstream UMC has formed to fund, staff, and organize a global campaign to pass the Bishops’ proposal and to prepare contingency plans leading up to the 2020 General conference. Multiple established advocacy groups, including Good News, Confessing Movement, Wesleyan Covenant Association, and the Institute for Religion and Democracy, are actively organizing and raising money to defeat the One Church Plan. Combined, these groups list 27 paid staff members and have all publicly pledged to defeat the plan. If we do not get behind the Bishops’ well considered proposal, we will be left with a proposal from the margins that is sure to divide the church further. Mainstream UMC represents a broad coalition, both left and right of center. We believe the vast majority of United Methodists want the church to stay together and live with our regional differences.
The Commission on The Way Forward and the Council of Bishops are not going to campaign for their vision. Rev. Dr. Nanette Roberts, the Senior Pastor of Grace UMC in Olathe, Kansas and I have co-founded Mainstream UMC to fill this gap. Dr. Roberts is the host Pastor for the organization and I am the full-time paid Executive Director working to pass the One Church Plan. Mainstream UMC with our Advisory Board have set out two goals. The first goal is to identify at least 433 of the 864 votes to pass the One Church Plan. The second goal is to work on contingency plans based on the possible outcomes of the General Conference in 2019. You will hear more about both of these over the next six months.
The One Church Plan is the right path for the United Methodist Church because it is rooted in the open ecclesiology taught by the Apostles in Acts 15:1-35. In that Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles agreed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was broad enough to span differences in interpretation of both Scripture and Tradition. The One Church Plan allows more conservative bishops, conferences, churches, and pastors to continue their current practices. It allows more progressive bishops, conferences, churches, and pastors to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. The Plan has no effect on Central Conferences outside the United States who are able to adapt the Book of Discipline to their own mission settings. The One Church Plan holds the denomination together for the widest ministry with the most impact for living out the United Methodist Mission: To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.
Grace UMC in Olathe, Kansas is the host Mainstream UMC. It serves as the fiscal agent, and provides financial accountability. If you are interested in supporting the One Church Plan through Mainstream UMC, please send checks to Grace UMC or give electronically.
Please make checks payable to:
Grace United Methodist Church
Memo: Mainstream UMC
11485 S. Ridgeview Road
Olathe, Kansas 66061
Give electronically: http://centerofgrace.center/mainstream-umc/ click “Donate Now” and designate “Mainstream UMC”.
For more information, contact Mainstream Executive Director, Mark Holland, 913-299-3569