Tuesday 8:35 a.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — The final day of General Conference is underway. We’re monitoring the reactions of Holstonians both here and back home, on social media and in the secular media.

Here’s a blog that came in from the Rev. Buzz Trexler, a veteran news editor; longtime member of Holston’s Communications Advisory Council; photographer for The Call; and of course, pastor.

“We in The United Methodist Church are suffering from schizophrenic theological practices — and I use that adjective with no disrespect to those who suffer from mental illness. But is there a better word to portray this contradiction when it comes to those who are self-professing gay Christians in The United Methodist Church?” Read the blog.

A woman embraces fellow delegate Jeffrey “J.J.” Warren of the Upper New York Conference after Warren spoke in favor of full inclusion for LGBTQI persons in the life of The United Methodist Church during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Monday 11:30 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — Delegate Karen Wright shared her thoughts about the results of General Conference, day 3:

Today’s session was heartbreaking. The stonewalling of the conservative delegates was chilling. They would not listen to repeated explanations that the One Church Plan would not mandate a change to their beliefs or practices within their own contexts. They simply refused to hear or budge.

If you want to know what the Church should be, look to the Queer Clergy Caucus. Their smiles radiate joy, their eyes are full of love, and their voices resound with the passion of their faith. They support each other and fight for unity. Although the denomination insists on hurting them, they persist in loving and accepting all of us. The UMC would be blessed by the full inclusion of these sisters and brothers, daughters and sons. To deny them equal status in the family is to deprive ourselves of their spiritual gifts and love.

It seems clear that even if the One Church Plan is brought up in the plenary session through a minority report tomorrow, we do not have enough votes to pass it. The UMC will be on the wrong side of history, its decline in the US will be hastened, and mine will be just one of many broken hearts.

Jeffrey “J.J.” Warren of the Upper New York Conference speaks in favor of full inclusion for LGBTQ persons on Feb. 25. He received an emotional response from delegates and observers. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS. 

Monday 10:25 p.m. (CST)

Holston delegates Becky Hall (above, left) and Carol Wilson take notes during today’s session.

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — Some believed that God’s will had been done. Others were shocked, sad, or angry.

Day 3 at General Conference resulted in delegates voting to place the Traditional Plan and two disaffiliation petitions on tomorrow’s plenary schedule for final consideration. The One Church Plan and Simple Plan were defeated in the Legislative Committee.

“Today was a long and emotional day,” said Holston delegate Becky Hall. “It was hard knowing of the range of feelings at various times in the room and the struggle to maintain a calm atmosphere.”

Hall added: “The chair of the legislative committee, Joe Harris, did a phenomenal job of leading us all day. He must be exhausted.”

Delegate Sandra Johnson said: “Today left me anxious about tomorrow. Yet, I remain hopeful, for God is and will be with us.”

Soon after adjournment of the challenging day, delegate Wil Cantrell pounded out his daily blog with explanations of what happened today and what’s expected tomorrow.

“There was a request for the Judicial Council to give a declaratory decision on the constitutionality of all the plans coming before the plenary session Tuesday,” Cantrell wrote. “This request passed and, most likely, we will hear the decision of the Judicial Council tomorrow morning.”

Cantrell also referred to the deep emotions and disappointments of the day, as did this United Methodist News Service story: Key votes prompt anguish, satisfaction

“There are a lot of crestfallen faces,” said John Hannifan, an observer from Memorial United Methodist Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. “The sun might come out tomorrow but it’s a dark day.”

“If you can change our covenant, then you can change it,” said the Rev. Rob Renfro, president of the traditionalist advocacy group Good News. “But if not, then you have to live by it, or then the church has to enforce it.”

See also:

Feb. 26, 6:10 a.m.: Goddard, delegation leader, speaks to Feb. 25 actions

Feb. 25, 11:30 p.m.: Delegate Wright responds to day’s actions

Feb. 25, 10:25: Traditional Plan passes | Delegates Hall, Johnson, Cantrell respond

Feb. 25, 6:15 p.m.: Simple Plan fails

Feb. 25, 4 p.m.: Delegate Goddard comments on disaffiliation petitions

Feb. 25, 12:15 p.m.: Effort to eliminate Traditional Plan defeated

Feb. 25, 11:20 a.m.: Jones says, ‘Anxiety level is much higher’

Complete Holston GC2019 coverage

Monday 6:15 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — General Conference 2019 delegates moved the Traditional Plan forward to plenary but not the One Church Plan. Simple Plan also failed to pass, 323-494. Here’s an overview of what happened this afternoon:

Traditional Plan advances, One Church Plan fails by UMNS

Photo above: Bishop Dindy Taylor (beneath screen, at table, second from right) joins other bishops in watching the day’s proceedings.

Monday 4:00 p.m. (CST)

ST. PAUL (Feb. 25) — Two “disaffiliation” petitions have joined the Traditional Plan in moving from the Legislative Committee to tomorrow’s plenary. The One Church Plan failed to move out of the Legislative Committee by a vote of 436 to 386.

Earlier today, the Rev. Kim Goddard said, “Sitting through these discussions of how to ‘disaffiliate’ is just plain heartbreaking to me … Trying really hard to see how this is a good thing regardless of what plan, if any, eventually passes.”

It’s possible for the One Church Plan to be brought forward to tomorrow’s plenary with a Minority Report. (See pages 51-52 in Daily Christian Advocate.)

The Rev. Kim Goddard participates in this afternoon’s session.

Monday 12:15 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — The Legislative Committee approved the Traditional Plan by a 461 to 359 vote, which moves it to tomorrow’s plenary session. Now other plans are being considered — right now the “disaffiliation” plans. Tomorrow is when the General Conference will debate and have the final vote.

The United Methodist News Service Twitter feed is a good way to keep up with minute-by-minute coverage. Go to UMNS Twitter.

See also: Effort to delay Traditional Plan defeated by UMNS

Tim Jones, communications director, grasps a handmade cross (a gift that was earlier distributed to communicators) during this morning’s session.

Monday 11:20 a.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — Tim Jones, communications director, describes the mood this morning as delegates debate and amend the Traditional Plan. “It seems as if the anxiety level is much higher, and this makes me ever more thankful for the day of worship and prayer we had on Saturday.” 

Read this morning’s GC News email. … Sign up for the next GC News email.

Watch the live stream.

Holston delegates consider legislation. From left to right: Randy Frye, Bob Lockaby, John Tate, Wil Cantrell, Becky Hall, Carol Wilson.

Monday 8:35 a.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 25) — General Conference, day 3, is underway. Here’s the live stream link.

Here’s an interesting story posted this morning by United Methodist News Service: Traditional and One Church backers gear up

From the story: General Conference delegates are set to begin their work first thing Feb. 25 on refining legislation in the Traditional Plan.

However, even the plan’s proponents acknowledge the lawmaking process is far from complete. Advocates for the One Church Plan also are not throwing in the towel.

In a key vote, delegates to the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly decided to prioritize working on the Traditional Plan over the One Church Plan, which a majority of bishops recommended.

The Traditional Plan, which seeks to strengthen enforcement of prohibitions related to homosexuality denomination-wide, received 459 votes to be a high priority for discussion.

The One Church Plan, which leaves questions of same-sex marriage and gay ordination closer to the local level, received 403 high-priority votes. Read the complete story.

Sunday 10:45 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 24) — What happened today? If you watched the live stream, you know it’s not easy to understand the implications of General Conference actions.

One of our Holston delegates, the Rev. Wil Cantrell, helps explain today’s proceedings in his easy-to-digest blog.

Says Cantrell: “The Traditional Plan has the most momentum right now though, as noted earlier, garnering over 50 percent of the vote is much easier in a priority vote than in a vote for final passage.” Read Cantrell’s blog.

Delegate Becky Hall noted that the “glitches in the technical and electronics caused us to lose time today, making the next two days even more precious and filled.”

Hall also said: “The statement that unity doesn’t mean uniformity is becoming a common phrase — as a way forward together is trying to be created.”

The Rev. Kim Goddard said: “I am encouraged that after a slow start with the voting devices, we stayed on track with the agenda. Hopefully this sets us up for an easy start to tomorrow’s work.”

Here’s the United Methodist News Service story that also helps explain the day’s actions: Pensions, Traditional Plan top priority votes

“Legislation recommended by Wespath Benefits and Investments, the denomination’s pension agency, topped the final tally with 518 high-priority votes,” according to UMNS. “Those two petitions deal with how to handle the pension liabilities of departing churches and the accrued benefits of departing clergy.”

Holston members gather for prayer tonight after adjournment.