Because of the COVID-19 rampage of 2020, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, which takes place every four years and was scheduled for May of this year, has been postponed to August 2021. What this means is that the protocol and other legislation that was to be considered at the General Conference will still be presented and considered in August of next year.
Several retirements of bishops, including that of our own Bishop, Mike Lowry, have been delayed until the end of 2021. In essence, because of the pandemic that has swept our world with its devastating consequences, much of what we thought would be happening in 2020 has been delayed — but most definitely not forgotten or minimized in any way.
To sum up where we were when COVID-19 turned the world upside down and where we are now, here are a few key points to remember:
- The Traditional Plan passed at the called General Conference of 2019. This includes punitive measures for churches and clergy who conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.
- Some Bishops will and some Bishops will not enforce the penalties outlined in the Traditional Plan for those who violate these rules.
- The same legislation, including the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation developed for presentation and vote at GC2020, will now be presented at GC2021, slated for August 2021.
- Until then, everything remains “on hold.”
While none of us could have anticipated this delay — or the world-rocking pandemic that caused it — one thing is certain. Little has changed for us as a church, for the missions and ministries we serve together, and for our commitment to drawing nearer to Christ, our Center, especially in these challenging and uncertain times.
We know you pray with us for our church, our denomination, our faith community, and for each individual touched by these difficult times, both in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and the concerns of our denomination regarding our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
As a church, we must continue to hold all of these issues in prayer.