Author: Advisory Board Editorial Team, Mainstream UMC
This is the third of four posts analyzing the results of the Mainstream UMC Grassroots Survey that ran from June 25 to July 11, 2019. There were 28 questions total. This post covers questions 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. These questions explored the global church structure and voting autonomy for the US church. There are links below to read the other posts as they are available.
Traditionalists like the current structure of the global church, primarily because the global church tends to support their views at General Conference on denying LGBTQ marriage and ordination. Centrists and Progressives desperately want change in the governance structure but are overwhelmingly open to continuing the funding under that new structure. Centrists and Progressives make up 75% of the US votes at General Conference and come from conferences that represent 78% of the total funding for the global church. The survey shows that it is time for the US church to have the same governance autonomy as the rest of the world.
Several of the questions in the survey explored how respondents feel about some of the unusual realities found in the relationship between the US and global Church. Some say these structures are a hang-over from a colonial structure (and others say it is colonial to even ask these questions!). How all of these questions were answered fell closely along the same polarized lines of Traditionalists and Centrists/Progressives. We clearly see things very differently. Here are the first four questions in this section.
Question 18: “The United Methodist Book of Discipline, in Paragraph 101, allows Conferences outside the United States to adapt portions of the Book of Discipline to meet their cultural context. This flexibility is not reciprocated to the US church. Do you think this is appropriate?”
Question 19: “There are 10 voting delegates at General Conference from “concordat” Methodist churches (Great Britain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, & Caribbean.) These are non-United Methodist conferences who have a reciprocal relationship with the UMC for delegates. Do you think it is appropriate for non-United Methodists to vote on issues that do not affect them?”
Question 20: “At the 2019 General Conference, 60% of the votes for the Traditional Plan came from delegates from outside the United States. Do you think it is appropriate for delegates from outside the United States to vote on LGBTQ ordination and marriage that affects the US church”
Question 21: “Do you think it is appropriate for churches in the United States to pay for 99.3% of the global budget but to have only 56% of the votes (and declining) at General Conference?”
What is interesting here is the group that is benefiting from the international votes believes it is appropriate. The Traditionalists have, in every case the highest approval of these four questions with Centrists and Progressives closely aligned in opposition to all four. One wonders if the delegates outside the US were voting in a way Progressives and Centrists wanted, instead of with the Traditionalists, if these results would flip across the board? Even a majority of Traditionalists found the voting by concordat delegates inappropriate, yet, concordat voting is a traditional part of our constitution.
Based on the answers to the first four questions, it is not a surprise that the answer to the next question is equally polarized. Centrists and Progressives overwhelmingly want to change the way we relate to the global church. Considering annual conferences in the US just elected Centrists and Progressives to be 75% of the US votes at General Conference and these same annual conferences pay 78% of the global budget, this should be a wakeup call for the church. Only Traditionalists want no change, in large part because the global church overwhelmingly supports an agenda that has been abandoned in the US a generation ago.
Question 22: “How strongly do you feel that the church in the United States should change our common governance structure with the global church?”
|Yes, should change||Neutral||No, should not change|
Finally, Question 23 asks about funding. It is remarkable that all three groups want to continue to fund the global church in one way or another. The Traditionalists (at 77%) belief the current funding is not a problem, so the funding presumably would be unchanged. The Centrists (at 77%) and Progressives (at 73%) are willing to continue funding the global church in a revised structure, a structure that puts the US and the global church on equal footing. Right now, the global church has much more flexibility than the US church. This should give hope to those outside the US that if/when we can find autonomy for the US church, the funding will follow. One fact is clear: all funding for the global church is up in the air if the Traditionalists succeed in splitting the church.
Again, a big “Thank you” to everyone who participated in the survey!
Read all the analysis:
Survey Results 1 of 4: Awakening & Urgency
Posted July 30, 2019
Survey Results 2 of 4: Can We Live Together in the US Church?
Posted August 1, 2019
Survey Results 3 of 4: Changes to the Global Structure.
Posted August 6, 2019
Survey Results 4 of 4: Concerns About a Split.
Posted August 8, 2019
Please Support the work of Mainstream UMC: www.MainstreamUMC.com/donate
See a map of US delegate elections: www.MainstreamUMC.com
See a map of US giving to the global church: www.MainstreamUMC.com
If the links do not work, please copy and paste them directly into your browser. The links to future survey posts are not available until the date listed. Thank you.