June 5, 2019
Rev. William C. Bills
Annual Conference 2019 in Traverse City was much more subdued than I anticipated. That is actually a good thing. I was concerned that things might deteriorate quickly but people generally treated one another with respect. There were a couple of notable exceptions but the poor behavior was shut down quickly. The tribe that owns the resort actually warned us about their “no protesting or demonstrations” policy for the resort. All things considered, it was a smooth conference.
There were some noteworthy votes taken. The Clergy Session of the conference voted 71% to 29% to support the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry in its’ rejection of the General Conference mandate to examine ministry candidates about their sexual orientation and or gender identification. The incoming class of new provisional clergy included two persons who would have been excluded had the CBOM heeded the General Conference mandate.
Bishop Bard hoped to take a straw poll to see if the Michigan Annual Conference favored the Traditional Plan or the One Church Plan. After several attempts to block the vote the motion to take the straw poll passed. The One Church Plan received 68% of the vote. The Traditional Plan received 32%. A motion to ask the Conference Council on Finance and Administration to refrain from funding church trials (anywhere from $50-150,000 each) passed by the same margin.
Part of the business of the conference this year was to elect delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The General Conference sets the rules for the United Methodist Church. The Jurisdictional Conference elects new bishops, as needed. All of the clergy delegates elected to both conferences were recommended by The Methodist Federation for Social action. All but one of the laity candidates were also recommended by the MFSA. The two alternate candidates were also recommended by the MFSA.
While we were meeting in Traverse City the Great Plains Conference (Kansas and Nebraska) was also meeting in Topeka. That Annual Conference passed a very strongly worded resolution against the Traditional Plan by a 60%-40% margin. Other Annual Conferences will be meeting in the coming weeks. Weekly updates can be sent to your email if you subscribe to the United Methodist News Service. http://www.umc.org/resources/umns-subscription-form.