Wednesday evening plenary session

During the May 2 evening session, General Conference delegates paused to pray for fellow delegate Jessica Ireland from Des Moines, Iowa, who was struck by a vehicle on the way to the session. She was transported to Tampa General Hospital and her condition was unknown at press time.

In the plenary session, delegates approved a change in language from “Lay Speaking Ministries” to “Lay Servant Ministries.” Speaking for the Committee on Discipleship, the Rev. Eric Park of Western Pennsylvania said the name change better reflected the many gifts of lay people in the church.

The General Conference had already passed the name change on its consent calendar, but needed to specifically pass this change because it added the path for lay speakers as specifically trained in pulpit supply. The term “lay speaker” occurs many times in the Book of Discipline.

The body voted 589-319 to refer a petition on “Revising the Social Principles” to the newly created General Commission on Strategy and Oversight.

Bethany Amey, a Greater New Jersey lay delegate, said the legislative committee that handled the petition “felt it was time for our Social Principles to reflect the global nature of the church.”

The Rev. Jim Harnish of Florida made the motion to refer. “I am deeply in favor of designing Social Principles that speak to the global nature of the church,” he said, “but our debate has shown that there are more questions than we can answer here on the floor. Something this important needs more time.”

Jim Winkler, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said the petition did not come out of “a formal consultation but simply a casual conversation between members of the central conferences and the General Board of Church and Society. There is a concern that the church in the 21st century, that is so very U.S.-centered, ought to have Social Principles that are truly representative (of everyone).”

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
On Jan. 3, a 16-member group of United Methodist leaders offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. UM News will host a panel discussion on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation proposal at 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 13. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers

Leaders who helped develop a separation plan for The United Methodist Church answered questions about their proposal during a live event Jan. 13.
General Church
Delegates pause for prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. A group of 2020 General Conference delegates and other church leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines is proposing a new form of unity. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Delegates offer proposal for church unity

United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines are offering a “Christmas Covenant” and inviting others to sign on.
General Conference

Church future under negotiation before GC2020

United Methodist leaders of varied perspectives on LGBTQ status struck an optimistic note about conversations that aim to find consensus before the next General Conference.