Conference pleads with bishops for leadership

The Rev. Will Green lies on the floor of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., with his hands and feet bound to protest the denomination's policies on human sexuality. Delegates returning from their lunch break passed by protestors on the floor and lining the entry to the meeting area. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS
The Rev. Will Green lies on the floor of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., with his hands and feet bound to protest the denomination's policies on human sexuality. Delegates returning from their lunch break passed by protestors on the floor and lining the entry to the meeting area. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough that called for unity but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people.

The Rev. Mark Holland, a delegate from Great Plains, said the May 17 call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed 428-364.

The bishops do not have a vote at General Conference, but they can call for a special session of the General Conference.

“This morning, Bishop Ough said that at General Conference, the role of the bishop was to preside,” said the Rev. Tom Berlin, Virginia Conference. “Quite frankly, bishop, we think it’s your role to lead. We are asking for your leadership.”

As delegates returned to the plenary, a large group of LGBTQ supporters were singing, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” as they held up hands bound in rainbow stoles while others were bound hand and foot on the floor. The initials stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer. 

“You have the right to call a special General Conference to focus on this particular issue of how do we reorder our life so that we have a chance to move forward, whatever that looks like,” said the Rev. Adam Hamilton, Great Plains Conference.

The Rev. Jerry Kulah, Liberia Conference, speaking against the referral, said, “I would like for us to follow the rules and not compromise the integrity of our General Conference.”

Hamilton pleaded with the bishops to help.

“We are in a stuck place at this General Conference. We in theory could find ourselves leaving on Friday still stuck and wounded.

“I’m pleading with you. Please help us.”

The bishops responded to the pleas, beginning closed-door meetings at 4 p.m. PDT that after a dinner break they expected to last long into the evening. 

"There have been some wonderfully meaningful conversations where people are sharing at a very deep level their hopes and yearnings for the church," Ohio West Area Bishop Gregory Palmer told United Methodist News Service. "There is biblical and theological reflection. There is historical reflection, and there is some practical dreaming. We got here in an interesting way, but I've been inspired by the depth of the yearning that we be one." 

Los Angeles Area Bishop Minerva Carcaño, after the dinner break, told UMNS that she and other bishops consider the delegates' invitation "a gift."

"None of us can remember a previous General Conference that asked for the advice of the Council of Bishops," she said.

Earlier in the day, she and 27 other bishops joined in signing "A Pastoral Response" to the more than 100 United Methodist clergy and clergy candidates who have come out as LGBTQ

Hodges and Gilbert are United Methodist News Service reporters. Heather Hahn also contributed to this story. Contact them at newsdesk@umcom.org.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Church
A General Conference newsroom is a busy place, hosting United Methodist News reporters, conference communicators, secular publication reporters and others. Kathy L. Gilbert (center) was among those filing stories from the newsroom at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Communication at forefront of GC2019

Story of 'critical moment' for The United Methodist Church will be shared by a range of communicators, using everything from print to podcasts.
The Rev. Donald W. Haynes Photo courtesy of Donald W. Haynes.

Commentary: Pacification or passion and prejudice

A retired clergyman reflects on what lessons the slavery debate at the 1840 and 1844 General Conferences might offer for the legislative assembly in St. Louis.
General Conference
Illustration by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

Perspectives on a Way Forward

A panel discussion, streamed on February 6, featured speakers for each of the major plans proposed to the 2019 General Conference.