Author: Rev. Dr. Mark R. Holland, Executive Director, Mainstream UMC
There is a lot to be learned from General Conference 2019. Most of it is not good. That does not mean that we are without hope. “We do not grieve as others do who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13
First, both the “left” and the “right” agree on the numbers. We had 384 votes for the One Church Plan. About 333 from the U.S. (2/3), 15 from Western Europe, and about 20 from the Philippines, that is 368. The remaining 16 votes were a smattering around. We had almost no votes in Africa. We needed 50 out of the 260 votes in Africa and we thought we had 88. We were dead wrong. The rest of our numbers were right. All votes are secret at GC, but the information bears out our estimates.
Second, nothing passed. The Traditional Plan that passed was the same unconstitutional mess that was brought into the General Conference. It will all be thrown out again by the Judicial Council in April. We were able to essentially filibuster to keep anything from changing. A hollow victory for both sides. We are at status quo. I would say this was worse than a tie, it was a collective failure.
Third, the existing mechanisms of the church are unable to resolve the issue of human sexuality. I am deeply grateful to the Council of Bishops for stepping out in leadership. But the reality is, neither they nor the General Conference could find a way forward. General Conference is irreparably broken. Any hope of a legislative fix is shouting into an empty well.
Fourth, any solution to this impasse is going to come from outside the existing structures. No one yet knows the who, what, where, when, and how. Everything right now is just speculation. It is important not to jump to conclusions. It is equally important that we work with a sense of urgency.
The One Church Coalition that worked tirelessly these last 8 months is committed to continuing together. We also need to broaden the coalition to make sure that everyone who wants to be involved is able. The 2/3 of the U.S. church that seeks change is not going to simply roll over. It is time to move forward.
The Board at Mainstream UMC will be meeting in the next few weeks to talk through what role we would like to play or are willing to play this next year. We will keep you posted on that outcome.
Please forward this email to your email list and encourage everyone who is interested to go to our website and sign up for more information. www.MainstreamUMC.com/sign-up The way forward will not be discovered by a few; this must be a public conversation.
Also, I will be at Asbury UMC in Prairie Village, Kansas this Sunday, March 3 at 3:00 pm CST for a Facebook Life event. It will be a debrief of General Conference. Afterwards, Mainstream UMC Board Member and Clergy Delegate from the Great Plains, David Livingston and I will field questions. Find the Facebook Live Event here: https://www.facebook.com/AsburyUMCPrairieVillageKS/
Finally, I commend to you a pastoral message from Rev. Dr. Nanette Roberts. Dr. Roberts is the co-founder and host pastor of Mainstream UMC. This video is for her church, but it speaks to all of us.
Rev. Dr. Mark R. Holland
Executive Director, Mainstream UMC