An Important Step Towards the Future of the UMC
Last Friday, we received news that an important step has been made towards the future of the United Methodist Church. A proposal, crafted and signed by a diverse group of United Methodist leaders, has been created titled “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.” It identifies a way to end the painful national and international conflict around the inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ people.
Here are some important points about this proposal:
- This agreement would allow same-sex marriage in the Methodist church and for LGBTQ clergy members to serve openly. What makes this agreement unique is that it was signed by 16 leaders of the church on both sides of the debate, representing the different points of views of more conservative, moderate, and more progressive groups.
- Conservative churches that oppose same-sex marriage could leave the denomination and take their property with them, a sticking point that in other denominations facing similar conflicts has led to long legal battles over who owns church buildings.
- For the proposal to take effect, it will have to be approved at the next general conference in May. Those involved in authoring the plan are optimistic it will pass, given that advocates on both sides of the debate negotiated and agreed to it.
If the proposal passes, individual churches will have until 2024 to hold a vote on whether to leave the United Methodist Church, and those that don’t vote will remain part of the denomination. Entire geographic regions of the Church may also leave together, via votes that will have to be held by next year.
This proposal does not represent a split in our denomination. The Proposal holds the United Methodist Church intact, and would create regional conferences (US, Africa, Philippines, and Europe) to each have their own Book of Discipline as governance. A regional US United Methodist Church could then allow removal of the harmful language used against our LGBTQ siblings and call for a focus on all understandings of inclusion, including tackling the issues of racism and bigotry that have often been a part of our history as Methodists.
Removing this language would be a powerful affirmation of God’s incredible love for all people, and our church’s calling to be that love in action. The Proposal also allows for those with a more literal reading of scripture, who call themselves traditionalists, to leave the United Methodist Church and create their own denomination, with the grace to keep their assets.
We are encouraged and hopeful regarding this step. However, it will still need to be adopted by our General Conference in May of this year. All those who participated in creating and signing this agreement have committed themselves to working diligently for its successful passage at General Conference 2020, thereby giving hope that we will not have to engage in painfully fighting with each other as we have in the past.
Here at PVUMC we remain committed to being the inclusive church God has called us to be.
All of this we hold in prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit to guide us forward with hope. We will continue to live into our church’s welcome statement and celebrate the diversity among us and the diversity God brings to us as we live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. If you have any questions about these matters, please feel free to contact any of the clergy at the church.
Pastoral Team of PVUMC