The General Conference of the United Methodist Church met this past week. And as many of you know by now, the One Church Plan failed and the Traditionalist Plan was passed by a relatively small margin of the global delegates. Near the end of the conference, our own Dr. Tim Bruster made a motion to send the Traditionalist Plan back to Judicial Council for a ruling on its constitutionality. Watch a video of this impassioned statement.
In his motion he reminded everyone the importance of “defining ourselves by our center, which is Jesus Christ, rather than by our boundaries.” The motion passed 405-395, and the Judicial Council will address the request at its next scheduled meeting April 23-25 in Evanston, Illinois.
The Council originally ruled the Traditionalist Plan unconstitutional and requested changes to it, but those changes were not made and the plan passed pretty much as originally written. (View a comparison of plans with the unconstitutional parts stuck through in red.)
While it is uncertain what will happen once this plan goes back to Judicial Council in April, this additional step offers some assurance that this is far from over — and that the Traditionalist Plan is not yet fully passed, despite what has been reported and some may think or believe.
What does seem clear is that the Traditionalist Plan is not representative of the American UMC at large. What is even clearer to all of us is that this vote does not represent First United Methodist Church, nor the eleven:eleven worshipping community. If you have not read Dr. Bruster’s blog post regarding General Conference, I urge you to do so. I think you will find it very encouraging.
We continue to be a church with open arms and minds and hearts committed to living out the Kin-dom of God through the transformation of the world. And one of the most significant ways we do that is reminding others, and ourselves, that all are loved, that the very Ground of our being is in love, regardless of our sexual orientation or affiliation.
“Let us love one another, for love is of God.” God is love. We come into this life endowed by Love, inspired by Love. We belong. All belong. And the vote of 480 or so people at General Conference does not change any of that at FUMC Fort Worth. And eleven:eleven will continue to be a worshipping community that welcomes all seekers and pilgrims who desire a deeper relationship to life, to God, and to one another.
We are all still in the cloud of emotional dust from this vote — and there is much clearing to do before we can even begin to know what will happen next. Although the Traditionalist Plan is likely to fail on constitutional grounds, what does this mean for our Church at large? More importantly for us, I think, is to realize that this vote, while being debated on theological or institutional grounds, was really about people’s lives.
The lives and loves — and worthiness — of our LGBTQI sisters and brothers and family and friends were up for debate. And there is no way to see this as anything other than dehumanizing and invalidating. So we have a lot of listening to do — and a lot of emotional repairs to make.
This is true on all sides of this matter. We are inextricably intertwined in one another “What affects one of us,” as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us years ago, “affects all of us.” This is a painful time. Maybe the best response for now is to be present to others with the same open arms and hearts and minds to all that we extend to one another in our eleven:eleven community.
This Sunday I will conclude my two-part series on finding our super powers, with a sharpened focus on courage and empathy. This seems to be an especially fitting topic in light of where the UMC is right now.
The root words for empathy define it as “a way into feeling what another feels”, a path toward connection. And of course, the root for courage is “to have heart”. So let’s have heart. Let’s stand with one another this Sunday as we seek out our collective power to love and to find our way through this uncertain time, and regardless of the ultimate outcome, to do the next right thing.
I hope to see you there.
Sunday, March 3 in eleven:eleven
11:11 am | 512 W. 4th St. | DowntownFort Worth
“courage — doing the next right thing”
rev. tom mcdermott
with the music of patty griffin, peter mayer, and seth glier
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven
Called General Conference Info Session
Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 2:00 – 3:00 pm | Sanctuary
A special called session of our General Conference met February 23 – 26 in St. Louis, Missouri to vote on A Way Forward from three plans proposed by The Commission On A Way Forward and recommended by the Council of Bishops regarding the paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality.
This Sunday, March 3 at 2:00 pm in the Sanctuary, Dr. Bruster will recap the work of this Conference and offer additional insight on its process, votes, and what it all means to our church and our denomination.