The Council of Bishops (COB) has called a special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be conducted Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.
In announcing the call, COB President Bishop Bruce R. Ough said the special session will be conducted in accordance with Division Two - Section II - Article II of The Constitution of The United Methodist Church as recorded in Paragraph ¶14 of The Book of Discipline (2016). The purpose of the 2019 special session of the General Conference will be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward,” which was created by action of the 2016 General Conference.
The 32-member commission was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge to lead the church forward amid the impasse related to homosexuality. The commission’s task includes examining paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and exploring options to strengthen the unity of the church. Per the Constitution of the church, the 2019 special session of the General Conference shall be composed of the delegates to the 2016 General Conference or their legal successors or alternates, except when a particular annual conference or missionary conference shall prefer to have a new election.
The Secretary of the General Conference will communicate with annual conference secretaries regarding updated delegate information, seating of reserve delegates and the issuance of new certificates of election for annual conferences choosing to hold new elections. The Commission on the General Conference and the business manager of the General Conference will develop and forward additional information regarding the logistics of the special session of General Conference at the appropriate time.
“The Council of Bishops encourages the entire church to continue in deep, unceasing prayer for Holy Spirit breakthroughs for the Commission on a Way Forward and the Special Session of General Conference,” Bishop Ough said.
Below is the full letter sent to the Heads of Delegations to the 2016 General Conference (or successors), Secretary of the General Conference and the Chairperson of the Commission on the General Conference.