“General Conference and the Future of the United Methodist Church”
Rev. William Bills
March 8, 2022
You probably know that the 2022 Special General Conference has been postponed. Many were looking forward to that conference as the time when our denomination would ratify the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation. The Protocol is a negotiated settlement allowing the United Methodist Church to split into two or more new bodies. It was agreed to in principle and awaits formal adoption. No action will be taken on the Protocol until summer of 2024. Because of this postponement, traditionalists plan to launch the new Global Methodist Church on May 1, 2022.
The reason given for cancelling the 2022 General Conference was the inability of overseas delegates to secure travel visas due to backlogs caused by Covid. That claim is disputed by some.
Following this announcement, I have been asked by several people, “So what is the next step?” To be perfectly honest, I don’t know.
The Protocol would give $25 million dollars to help the Global Methodist Church start up. With the formal vote postponed two years that payment may be delayed. The number of churches and clergy moving to the GMC is unknown. The Wesley Covenant Association is a primary supporter of the GMC. Their website lists churches supportive of traditionalist views. All of these churches are not formal members of the WCA. According to the WCA website there are about 30 such churches in the Michigan Conference. https://wesleyancovenant.org/find-a-church/
The Global Methodist Church will launch in May. Congregations and clergy may wait to see how that goes before moving from the UMC to the GMC. Traditionalists prevailed at the previous General Conference. It may be prudent for them to wait. The 2022 special General Conference was set formalize the Protocol. The 2024 General Conference will be a regularly scheduled conference. New legislation may be presented at that time. A two year delay offers time for other plans to be developed and presented along with the Protocol in 2024.
Our situation in the United Methodist Church is ambiguous. This will be a time for waiting and watching. Keep yourself informed as events unfold. To that end, I offer some links below. I encourage you to check them periodically. Consider also subscribing to the two weekly newsletters on list below.
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