At the beginning of the 2019 calendar year, the United Methodist Church voted to retain the denomination’s traditional stance on homosexuality. It decided to fortify the language that prohibited LGBTQ members from marriage and official ordination within the United Methodist Church.
This past Wednesday was the deadline to submit petitions for the United Methodist Church’s General Conference taking place on May 5, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN. The global meeting, which will include UMC congregations in other parts of the world such as the Philippines and Africa, will seek to finally settle the long-disputed LGBTQ issues that have plagued the denomination for four decades.
Bishops serving in more conservative areas are fairly optimistic about an official separation. It’s a way to stay unified through an amicable severance. United Theological Seminary President Kent Millard said “It’s not a divorce. It’s giving life to expressions of the church that are now in conflict.”
Although the complete text of the petitions has yet to be released, there are three leading proposals that will be presented during the General Conference 2020. Highlights for each proposal can be found below.
The Indianapolis Plan
This plan would divide the UMC into a minimum of two separate denominations. One group would hold to the conservative traditional view voted on earlier this year in February, while the other group would remove the language that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The UMCNext Proposal
The goal of this proposal would be to keep the denomination together. However, it would allow a church to seamlessly leave while still taking advantage of related agencies within the UMC. The proposal would also call for a unique General Conference in 2022 to discuss an overhaul of the denomination’s government and structure.
A New Form of Unity
This third strategy would divide the UMC into three autonomous church organizations that would be self-governing and hold their own annual conferences. The churches would be either a Traditional Methodist Church, an Open Methodist Church or a Progressive Methodist Church. The international churches would be able to form their on UMC affiliation as well.
According to The United Methodist Church, the complete text of petitions will be published 90 days before the General Conference meeting on May 5, 2020.