Commission on a Way Forward
The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options that will maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the United Methodist Church concluded its specially called General Conference on issues surrounding human sexuality. BUMC pastors want to keep you informed about the decisions that were made at this conference. Pending rulings by the Judicial Council, all legislation will go into effect January 1, 2020. The following items are what were approved by the 850+ voting delegates, who represent the global United Methodist Church.
- The Traditional Plan was passed by a vote of 438 to 384. This plan reflects the language already in the Book of Discipline, concerning LGBTQ+ members. This includes prohibitions against marriage and ordination. It also increases the consequences for clergy who violate these rules. That said, several portions of this plan were ruled unconstitutional by the UMC’s Judicial Council. Thus, it is unclear which portions will go into effect on January 1. As more information is made available about this, we will let you know.
- An Exit Plan (sometimes called the Taylor disaffiliation plan) passed by a small margin. This plan allows for churches to leave the denomination without loss of property. However, this plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. So, it is unknown whether or not this will go into effect. It has been referred to the Judicial Council for more rulings.
We understand that you will still have questions. So do we. But we will continue to update you as we come into more information. There will also be two information sessions, hosted by the conference, that are open to the public:
- March 17th, 4-6 p.m., at Kennesaw UMC
- March 24th, 4-6 p.m., at Hamilton Mill UMC
We encourage you to attend either one of those meetings.
Finally, your BUMC pastors will continue their commitment to the mission and ministry of this church. While many decisions are still in flux, we trust wholeheartedly that God will lead us through this. We are honored to be in ministry with you, and we covet all your prayers for our church and our denomination as we walk through the days to come. Here at Birmingham, as always, we will strive to be in ministry to everyone in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Brent Ward
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Wyant
Rev. John Wolfe
Rev. Judy Wolfe
Should you have further questions, any of the BUMC Pastors who include Brent Ward, Jennifer Wyant, John and Judy Wolfe, and Sam Halverson, will be happy to meet with you.