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.
March 2019 Update
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. 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.
January 2020 Update
In January 2020 the clergy in our district received a note from Doug Thrasher (our District Superintendent) about the current status of the United Methodist view on human sexuality (and how this conversation is affecting the church). He noted that a group of bishops and other church leaders offered a proposal that has gained a lot of media attention. It is titled “The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.” You can read about the proposal here:
Doug reminded us that this plan, like any other plan regarding the future of the UMC, will be considered at General Conference in May 2020. News media reported about this matter, and some news agencies said the United Methodist Church is splitting. This is not accurate—this proposal has not been voted on yet by the General Conference. While Bishops, groups of Bishops, The Council of Bishops, UM agencies and Annual Conferences can speak for themselves, only General Conference (which next meets May 5-15) can speak for the entire United Methodist Church. You can read more about the legislative structure of the denomination here:
So how do we respond?
- Stay informed by following developments on trusted UMC websites. The United Methodist News service is a good place to start.
- Pray for the United Methodist Church and specifically for the General Conference and its delegates.
- Continue faithfully in the work that God has called us to do here in Milton, Ga.
We will continue to keep you updated as we have relevant information. Please reach out to either Pastor Brent or Pastor Jennifer or John or Judy Wolfe if you have any questions.