Tennessee layman offers Plain Grace Plan


As The United Methodist Church moves toward its 2020 General Conference, many plans for structuring the denomination have been and are being submitted for consideration.

2020 General Conference takes place May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with 862 delegates from around the world.

General Conference is the denomination’s top legislative body that makes decisions on submitted legislation. Actions of one General Conference do not bind the next General Conference, meaning every General Conference can alter or revise previous actions or adopt new policies within the limits of the denomination’s Constitution.

In addition to the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation” that is receiving much attention since it was announced in early January, there are other plans, including one submitted last September by Frank Holbrook from the Memphis Conference. He calls his plan the Plain Grace Plan.

Holbrook is a lay member of Martin First United Methodist Church in Martin, Tennessee. Among his credentials are current president of the Memphis Conference United Methodist Men, retired lawyer and certified mediator. Click HERE where Holbrook writes more about himself on his blog.

Holbrook will be in Minneapolis in May as the second lay delegate representing the Memphis Conference at 2020 General Conference. Read HERE about his election in June 2019, along with the rest of the 2020 delegation from the Memphis Conference.

Information about Holbrook’s plan appears first in the list below and is followed by other known plans.

The United Methodist News Service has released a summary that compares submitted plans. It includes plans from groups, but does not include plans from individuals, which is why Holbrook’s Plain Grace Plan is not listed.

All proposals for structuring the denomination are open for amendments at General Conference and may be subject to Judicial Council review.

Holbrook developed his plan after the February 2019 special called session of General Conference that took place in St. Louis, Missouri. Other than special sessions, General Conference takes place every four years. The last regular session was in 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

The 2019 session was called by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church to address the single issue of human sexuality. Bishops preside and facilitate the work of lay and clergy delegates to General Conference, but they do not vote.

2019 General Conference delegates considered and debated three plans from the Commission on a Way Forward.

Holbrook was not a delegate to 2019 General Conference. He was elected a delegate to 2020 General Conference at the Memphis Annual Conference in June 2019 in Collierville, Tennessee.

Delegates to 2019 General Conference passed the Traditional Plan that affirms The United Methodist Church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriages. The plan went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Click HERE to read what happened and didn’t happen at 2019 General Conference.

Holbrook’s information about his Plain Grace Plan says it was developed “with an option allowing peaceful separation from The United Methodist Church.”

According to Holbrook, the Plain Grace Plan “focuses on the means of multiplying witness and not the underlying disputes between members who have honest good faith disagreements about doctrinal and social positions; this disagreement is most clearly manifested in the current debate over human sexuality.  

“Unlike some other approaches, the Plain Grace Plan does not create expressions based on the human sexuality issue. Critically, unlike other plans, it allows new expressions to adopt their polity and doctrine BEFORE an Annual Conference or local church receives an invitation to join; this is probably the single biggest distinction between the Plain Grace Plan and other proposals.

“Unlike other plans, it also allows two additional periods in 2026 and 2027 for Annual Conferences and local churches to join a new expression or reaffiliate with The United Methodist Church.”

To read the details of Holbrook’s Plain Grace Plan, below are listed all its component petitions that appear in the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA), the official journal of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
  • Petition 1 ¶248  DCA pp. 942-43
  • Petition  2 ¶431A  DCA pp. 982-83
  • Petition 3 ¶431B DCA pp. 983-84
  • Petition 4 ¶431C  DCA pp. 984-85
  • Petition 5 ¶431D  DCA pp. 985
  • Petition 6 ¶431E  DCA pp. 986
  • Petition 7 ¶431F  DCA pp. 986-7
  • Petition 8 ¶673  DCA p. 640
  • Petition 9 ¶674  DCA pp. 640-1
  • Petition 10 ¶675  DCA pp. 641-2
  • Petition 11 ¶676  DCA pp. 642-3
  • Petition 12 ¶677  DCA pp. 643-4
  • Petition 13 ¶678  DCA pp. 644-5
  • Petition 14 ¶679  DCA pp. 645-7
  • Petition 15 ¶680  DCA pp. 647-8
  • Petition 16 ¶725  DCA pp. 648-9
  • Petition 17 ¶1510  DCA pp. 575-6
  • Petition 18 ¶2553  DCA pp. 369-70
  • Petition 19 ¶2554  DCA pp. 347-49
  • Petition 20 ¶2555. DCA p.580
 Among other things, the DCA, contains the record of legislation that has been submitted and translated into the four official languages of The United Methodist Church.

For more information about the Plain Grace Plan, Holbrook has a blog at planegrace.com.

About the different spellings for his plan and his blog, Holbrook offers this explanation on his blog: "As I’ve grown as a wood worker, I’ve become enamored with hand planes. There’s something about taking a paper-thin shaving from a piece of wood that’s amazing. But a lot of things have to come together for that to happen. The plane blade (must) be razor sharp. The plane’s frog (must) be set right. The skew angle of the plane needs to be optimized. The wood’s grain needs to (be) in the proper orientation to the plane blade. When all that (and a lot more) happens, you have plane grace. But plane grace is also a play on the words plain grace. And plain grace is the most powerful expression of God’s love for each of us. For it is by grace you are saved. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."

To communicate with Holbrook, e-mail him at UMCMatthew281920@gmail.com. To communicate with the Memphis Conference delegation to 2020 General Conference, e-mail 2020delegation@memphis-umc.org.

To keep up with all legislation and other news about 2020 General Conference, visit umnew.org OR https://gc2020welcome.org

Related Videos