Recently, a proposal advising a split in the United Methodist Church has been gaining a lot of exposure in the Protestant community.
At the General Conference in March 2019, church leaders voted 438-384 for a proposal titled “Traditional Plan,” which affirmed bans on LGBTQ-inclusive practices.
Since then, many UMC leaders around the country have spoken out against the Traditional Plan and have begun talks of a possible split.
The proposal, called “A Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation,” envisions an amicable separation in which conservative churches forming a new denomination would retain their assets.
The proposal was signed in December by a 16-member panel, who worked with a mediator and began meeting in October. The panel was formed after it became clear the impasse over LGBTQ issues was irreconcilable.
Church leaders will be voting on a proposal during the General Conference, the only governing body that speaks for the UMC and makes final decisions. The General Conference will be held in Minneapolis from May 5-15.
While this particular proposal has gained nationwide attention, Rev. Robert Brown of Rome First UMC pointed out that it is actually one of several proposals that will go before the General Conference.
Some of the other proposals the church leaders will be looking over at the General Conference include:
♦ The Indianapolis Plan — The church would not be dissolved and instead branch off into at least two separate denominations: one “conservative” and one “centrist/progressive.”
The conservative denomination would continue the church’s current stance on LGBT issues, whereas the centrist/progressive denomination would be more accepting of LGBT clergy and allow clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
♦ The UMC Next Plan — The church would not be dissolved and continue following “The Book of Discipline.” Instead, any language or polices that are harmful to or exclusive of LGBT people and issues will be removed from the book.
♦ The Christmas Covenant Plan — The church would suspend any other dissolution or separation plans. A U.S. Regional Conference would also be formed to “establish legislative equality for central and jurisdictional conferences.”
After a proposal is chosen, Methodist church leaders will make final decisions for their regions at what is called the annual conference. North Georgia’s annual conference will take place in Athens from June 18-20.
Local churches will remain unaffected by the proposals until the General Conference chooses a proposal and the annual conference meets in June.