GC2019: Morning Session, Bishops, Power And An Unconstitional Traditional Plan

GC2019: Morning Session, Bishops, Power And An Unconstitional Traditional Plan February 26, 2019

Bishops have no real power in the UMC. In other words, the Bishops may be the leash, but the dog is running this show. No command to “heel” will be heeded in any way. And, by the way, a significant portion of the Traditional Plan has just been declared unconstitutional.


bishops have no real powerAlthough the morning session was scheduled to begin at 8:20 this morning, it didn’t actually begin until nearly 9 am. It opened with various corrections, comments, etc. about the official record of the day before.

As we started this morning, I heard that Bishop Gregory Palmer is going to preside. He’s one of many of the Bishops who has gained my admiration over the years. I also believe he, along with most of the Bishops, is a supporter of the One Church Plan, which failed to make it out of Committee yesterday.

Now, in the way the UMC makes its decisions, “the people have spoken” in their current refusal to further consider the One Church Plan and to only affirm the punitive and all-gays-excluded Traditional plan.

But the elected leaders of the church, (Bishops are elected not appointed in the UMC) end up having no say at all in the decisions. They chair the plenary sessions, but their only job there is to make sure that Robert is happy.

But Bishop Palmer may have some other leverage. I can see that we are going VERY, VERY slowly this morning. It is 10:36, and all we have done so far is pass two pieces of legislation, one to do with the timing of enforcing decisions made here and the other dealing with Wespath issues over pensions.

It almost seems like there is an intentional delay–the last break was very long, much longer than originally planned. A few moments ago, a motion was made to reconsider the one Wespath legislation that did pass because of the possibility of unintended consequences. The motion to reconsider has passed and so now needs to be considered.

As sloggy as this is, I’m also intrigued. Perhaps we are seeing an intentional delay to give the Judicial Council more time to determine the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan. Since we all know it is unconstitutional and needs multiple amendments to come into compliance and because each of those amendments will have to be presented and argued separately, it is very possible at this time that the day will end with nothing have been accomplished.

We also know that within a few hours last night, the young people of the church gathered 15,000 signatures requesting reconsideration of the inclusive One Church Plan. Those are powerful voices as they are the future of the US UMC. Am more than curious about what is going to happen.

But to get back to the Bishops and their lack of power. When the Legislative Session of yesterday refused to back the very much Bishop-supported One Church Plan, they effectively gave a joint f*** you to the Bishops. Part of the traditional plan includes some serious punitive words toward Bishops that don’t toe the “no gays allowed” line.

In other words, the Bishops may be the leash, but the dog is running this show. No command to “heel” will be heeded in any way.

All this is part of our organizational dysfunction. We had a committee of 864 people because we don’t trust each other. The hard right is determined to stay at war with Bishops, the elected leadership of the church.

A government with this type of thing happening would be on the verge of a coup.

A business running like this would eventually shut its doors.

But a church running like this? Well . . . I often wonder if we are going the way of Sears. Although another restructuring move is taking place with Sears, it’s glory days are long, long gone. It could not or would not change with the times. Neither, apparently, can we.

OK, breaking news: a significant portion of the Traditional Plan has just been declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. More as soon as I can digest it.

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  • Mel Hazlewood

    Christy, thanks for your work! I’m retired but still serving two small UM churches part-time. They are deep in traditionalist country but I am one of those moderates (liberals?). After getting yesterday’s news, I started reconsidering my biblical hermeneutics which led me to recall reading an article some time ago that Augustine’s hermeneutical lens began with filtering and applying scripture with “humility and love.” The UMC does not seem to be any where close to there.

  • MarthaB

    All of this is why I am no longer associated with the UMC or ANY “Christian” church. In the US at least, the churches are not the LEAST Christ-like in their exclusion and hatred. That this subject even needed to be brought up and voted upon is a very, very, VERY clear statement that the UMC is NOT a welcoming church. Their “Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Door” nonsense is just that, nonsense. The doors of the UMC and every denomination of American “Christianity” except perhaps the UCC are tightly shut against the LGBTQ faithful. I see no downside in the loss of all American “Christianity” in the form of any organized religion. We can all follow Christ without institutions that hate our brothers and sisters because of their sex lives, without institutions that rape children and then hide the crimes, without institutions that preach the “Prosperity Gospel” and steal from those who can afford it the least, taking it all for their own luxury homes and jets. Let it all die. Believers know that Christ will not die with them.