Tuesday, February 26 Update

The final day of the Special Session of General Conference was an emotional day for many as delegates met as the plenary and continued their legislative work most notably passing The Traditional Plan.

Tuesday morning started with worship, during which an offering for UMCOR was collected. After hearing administrative reports, delegates began their work as the Plenary. The calendar of legislation before them included five pieces of legislation: Central Conference Implementation Timeline; Wespath Recommendations – Pension Liabilities and CRSP Amendment; the Traditional Plan; and two disaffiliation petitions. Some of these calendar items also had minority reports that would be part of their discussion.

As they worked through the legislative calendar, they first adopted legislation coming from the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters, the Central Conference Implementation Timeline. This legislation says, “Legislation passed at the 2019 called session of General Conference shall not take effect in central conferences until twelve months after the close of the 2020 General Conference…”

They moved on to the petitions from Wespath which the single Legislative Committee approved on Sunday. After first passing the legislation with an amendment, the Conference reconsidered the legislation with a substitute amendment that added more clarity per Wespath’s guidance. They then adopted the newly amended petition regarding Book of Discipline paragraph 1504 by a vote of 571 to 256.

Delegates then heard Judicial Council Decision 1377 which deemed nine of the petitions before them unconstitutional and one more partially unconstitutional. The petitions flagged were part of the Traditional Plan and the two disaffiliation petitions. (Read the decision at

The plenary continued its work moving to the next calendar item, the Traditional Plan. Working through this portion of the calendar took most of the day and brought passionate discussion, prayers, delays and demonstrations.

Per their rules, the plenary first heard a minority report. This report was the reintroduction of the One Church Plan. After much discussion the minority report failed by a vote of 449 to 374.

The Conference then began to focus on the main motion – the Traditional Plan.Discussion included several attempts at amendments (some of which tried to tidy up unconstitutional parts of the plan while others did not seem friendly to the plan) and parliamentary procedure actions that sought to delay or kill the legislation. The plenary finally voted on all the petitions of the Traditional Plan before them and passed the legislation by a vote of 438 to 384. Some adopted parts of the Traditional Plan were unaltered from what the Judicial Council had rule as unconstitutional that morning.

At the end of the day delegates once again requested a Judicial Council declaratory decision on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan by a vote of 405 to 395. The Judicial Council will address the request at its next scheduled meeting on April 23-25 in Evanston, Illinois.

Besides dealing with the calendar items, during the afternoon, delegates also agreed to refer a matter to the General Conference Committee on Ethics. It involved rumors that US delegates participated in forms of bribery and “bought” votes of Central Conference delegates. This was referred to the Committee on Ethics by a vote of 417 to 388.

As the clock ticked toward the time for adjournment, delegates took up another piece of legislation. They substituted a minority report for Petition 90066 which creates a new Book of Discipline paragraph outlining a process for a local church to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church without the loss of church property. The minority report made changes to the petition which was passed by the legislative committee and declared unconstitutional in the morning’s Judicial Council decision 1377. Feeling the new version brought the legislation into constitutionality the plenary adopted it 420 to 390.

As General Conference drew near its adjournment time of 6:30 p.m., delegates adopted an omnibus motion that rejected other legislation left on its calendar.

Legislation passed by the Special Session of General Conference becomes church law in the United States on January 1 unless otherwise stated in specific legislation.


News Release from the Council of Bishops

General Conference maintains language on ordination of LGBTQI persons, same-gender marriages in The United Methodist Church

ST. LOUIS – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church would like to thank the delegates to the Special Session of the General Conference for their diligent work during the 2019 conference, which ended today in St. Louis, in the United States.

The General Conference is the highest legislative body in the church and the only group who can decide church law and speak officially for the global denomination.

The 864 delegates (half lay, half clergy) from all over the world met from Feb. 24-26 to discuss and act on the report of the Commission on a Way Forward over the issue of human sexuality. The delegates also considered petitions other than the report from the Commission.

The decision of the General Conference was to offer a majority support for the Traditional Plan. The vote was 438 to 384. The delegates then voted to ask the Judicial Council, the highest court in the denomination, to review the constitutionality of the approved legislation.

What is the Traditional Plan?

The Traditional Plan keeps the current language around sexuality and increases accountability by streamlining the processes to enforce penalties for violations of The Book of Discipline related to marriage and ordination of LGBTQI persons. Some parts of the Traditional Plan were ruled unconstitutional, and it will take some time to clarify which parts will become part of our church law and which parts will not.

“We continue to teach and believe that all persons are welcomed in the church, all persons are persons of sacred worth and we welcome all to receive the ministry of Jesus. Human sexuality is a topic on which people of faith have differing views,” said Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, after the conference ended. “Despite our differences, we will continue to work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and share God’s love with all people.”

What is the next step for the UMC?

Since the legislation is not the official church law until January 1, 2020, the bishops are urging all United Methodists to stay focused on the mission that glorifies God and reaches new people with the gospel. Bishops will be holding meetings with clergy and laity in their annual conferences on how details will be handled in each area.


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See pictures from the Special Session of General Conference of the UMNS Flickr page at


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