Author: Mainstream UMC
The Western Jurisdiction Mission Team just endorsed the One Church Plan. You can read it here. This is significant because they did not endorse the “Simple Plan” which is a plan preferred by many progressives.
The lines of demarcation at the 2019 General Conference will not be between “progressives” and “conservatives.” The line of demarcation will be between the progressives and conservatives who are willing to compromise and live with differences, and those who are not.
Progressives across the church are struggling with the One Church Plan because it is a major compromise. A true progressive plan would protect homosexuals the way we protect race and gender with non-discrimination language. The Simple Plan is closer to that in that it removes all negative language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline about homosexuality without codifying protections for conservatives. The One Church Plan also retains prohibitions against apportionment money being spent “…to promote the acceptance of homosexuality…” (UM Book of Discipline ¶ 613.19 & 806.9) For progressives, the Simple Plan is more just.
The Simple Plan is grammatically simple; it is politically complex. There is no indication of support for this plan in the Central Conferences or among conservatives in the United States. A plan that only has support among US progressives is not likely to pass and risks splitting support for the One Church Plan. The Commission on the Way Forward rejected both “progressive” and “traditional” plans in favor of an open ecclesiology that makes room for everyone. The progressive members of the Commission and the progressive bishops signed on to the One Church Plan as a compromise believing it to be the only path forward.
A few of our most conservative bishops—who have refused to self-identify—ignored the majority view of the nearly 2/3 of the Council of Bishops and insisted on drafting the “Traditional Plan.” They forced this plan back on the Commission which makes a clear statement, “This plan is not the work of the Commission on a Way Forward” (emphasis theirs) but “a few members of the Council of Bishops”. The Commission placed this plan in appendix 3 of their report. This “Traditional Plan” is a closed ecclesiology and kicks out everyone who does not agree with a particular interpretation of scripture regarding homosexuality.
In short, the most progressive bishops are willing to compromise. The most conservative bishops are not. The Western Jurisdiction Mission Team has taken a major leadership role for progressives in the church by encouraging their like-minded brothers and sisters to accept a problematic compromise which is the One Church Plan. The leaders in the Western Jurisdiction understand that we are in a complex global environment and there is no way to address these complex issues without compromise. This is real leadership for church unity.
The most conservative bishops are calling for schism. They want everyone in the church to either certify that they agree with them or to leave the denomination. They have joined with other schismatic organizations that promise to leave if they do not gain total control of the denomination. This closed ecclesiology is an affront to the Wesleyan open table that has nurtured Methodists for generations.
Please join with Mainstream UMC and other organizations who support making the United Methodist table more open through the One Church Plan.