Tuesday 11:00 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — After hours of delaying tactics by opponents, the United Methodist General Conference 2019 delegates passed The Traditional Plan 438 to 384.

See General Conference passes Traditional Plan by UMNS

Each night of General Conference, we have asked Holston delegates to share their responses to the day’s actions. We have shared all those received. Here are today’s responses:

Rev. Randy Frye

I came to St. Louis troubled by the story of Acts 10 and seeking to discern if this was another Acts 10 moment. I deliberately chose to listen and learn.

While I ultimately chose the Traditional Plan, I’m not convinced it is a way forward. It’s going to result in more frustration and probably defiance. If it didn’t require so many constitutional amendments, I would have chosen the Connectional Conference Plan for it allowed us to remain a Methodist family in three separate strands.

My heart aches because of the pain so many are feeling tonight, and my prayer is that healing will come as we focus on our mission of making disciples and changing lives.

Becky Hall uses an electronic device to cast a vote. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS

Becky Hall

Today was the hardest day yet. So much hurt and harsh words and lack of respect and orderliness. With the disappointment of those who wanted the One Church Plan in addition to those who saw their Simple Plan get eliminated, as well as the Connectional Conference Plan, it was a stressful day.

Although the Traditional Plan prevailed, which made many delegates sigh relief, it still has many components that will be challenged.

I will be glad to get back to Holston, the conference I love.

Tuesday 3:30 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — No new plans have been adopted yet at General Conference. Adjournment is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST.

Remember that all church members are encouraged to attend 3/3 @ 3p.m. These are meetings in each district for members to worship and receive information from delegates about General Conference.

The Rev. Kim Goddard, delegation leader, also asks church members to attend their regular Wednesday meeting and Sunday worship. “Whatever you do, don’t miss church,” she says. “You go there and you be with the people who have become for you the church.”

See 3/3 @ 3 p.m.District Worship & GC Briefing schedule

Tuesday 2:45 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — Updates on today’s activities at General Conference.

Delegates approved the first legislation of the special General Conference, passing measures that affect pension liabilities and the implementation of changes in central conferences. See Delegates pass first legislation by UMNS

General Conference delegates still have work to do to assure that all the proposed legislation approved Feb. 25 for a final vote conforms to the denomination’s constitution. See Court to GC2019: Legislation needs more work by UMNS

Other actions:

A point of order call to refer allegations of bribery for votes to committee on ethics passed, 417-388.

Amendment to definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual” definition failed, 605 to 203.

Holston delegate Emily Ballard (far right) stands with young United Methodists in speaking about a unity statement signed by more than 15,000.

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