Bishop's Town Hall Meeting on a Way Forward

11/14/2018


Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. took part in 18 town hall-style meetings from Aug. 25 to Nov. 17, 2018, in the Great Plains Conference to share details of the three plans known to be considered during a special session of General Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The special session – scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2019 – will have a single topic: the denomination’s response on human sexuality, specifically, same-gender marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons.

This recording from Nov. 11 at First United Methodist Church in Topeka has been edited slightly to eliminate long pauses, such as discussion times. It does not include the opening worship and communion time, but instead focuses on the bishop’s presentation, which was modified and improved via feedback from town hall attendees who took part in an online survey after each gathering. The presentation includes:
  • A primer on the polity of the church – organization layers such as General Conference, jurisdictions, annual conferences, districts and the local church. In this portion, the bishop explains how delegates are elected and that they are the people who will vote on proposals during the special session.
  • A look at details of the One Church Plan. More time is spent on this plan than others because it is the plan preferred by a majority of the Council of Bishops and because understanding its components may allow for a deeper understanding of the other plans.
  • An overview of the Connectional Conference Plan and its possible implications for annual conferences and the local church.
  • A look at the Traditional Plan and the ways it differs from the current Book of Discipline.
The current Discipline states that all people are of sacred worth but that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Church law currently forbids United Methodist churches from hosting a same-gender wedding ceremony, and United Methodist clergy face charges if they officiate same-gender weddings. Church law also forbids ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” Plans being considered for the special session of General Conference do everything from removing the restrictive language to strengthening penalties for lack of adherence to the Discipline to a hybrid that separates the different affinities into groups called “connectional conferences.”

You can share your concerns on this topic with the delegates and alternate delegates to the special session of General Conference at gcdelegates@greatplainsumc.org. Delegates likely will not reply because of the volume of emails, but an email to that address is sent to the entire delegation, as well as Bishop Saenz.

As you watch the video or for review after viewing, two other materials from the conference’s resources pages may be helpful:
  • The bishop’s PowerPoint presentation – This document can be viewed in the slide show mode to see the animations, or view it in notes mode to see some of the additional information shared by the bishop.
  • Comparison document – The conference communications team developed a single-page, front-and-back comparison chart of the three plans shared by the bishop in the town hall meetings.
For more resources, including books, sermons, essays and more, go to www.greatplainsumc.org/cowf.