A Message from our Senior Pastor
Rev. Dr. Deborah Suddarth and I are offering an open meeting to all interested persons concerning the upcoming special called General Conference of The United Methodist Church in 2019 at St. Louis, Missouri, sometimes referred to as “A Way Forward.” The meeting with take place November 18 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
As way of introduction, the “Commission on a Way Forward” was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church concerning human sexuality and to explore options that would help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. The 32-member Commission was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to LGBTQ inclusion and resulting questions about the unity of the church. The final report of the “Commission on a Way Forward” has been released. Here is a statement from the moderators of the Commission and the President of the Council of Bishops on the release of the report:
“To the People of The United Methodist Church,
“We offer the final report of the Commission on a Way Forward, translated in the four official languages of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church: English, French, Portuguese and Swahili. In the Nicene Creed, we are taught the marks of the church—one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. We are catholic in that we care not only for the parts of the church, but more significantly for the whole. We have refrained from commenting about the plans contained in this report until the time when our sisters and brothers could read this in their own first language. With this distribution, we give thanks that this work can now begin, and we can have a conversation that represents our global and catholic nature—more fully who we are as The United Methodist Church.”
The Council of Bishops has voted by an overwhelming majority to share the work done by the “Commission on a Way Forward” on the three plans and to recommend the “One Church Plan”. The “One Church Plan” will be placed before the 2019 General Conference for legislative action.
On November 18th at 4:30 in Room 101, we will look at the three plans, General Conference history and procedure, and the recent Judicial Council ruling. We will discuss some possible outcomes and covenant to be in prayer for the delegates to General Conference as they deal with this weighty matter.
Rev. David Atkinson
Join the Prayer Community for the United Methodist Church
This prayer movement is a response to the Council of Bishops initiative called Praying Our Way Forward. We are called to a posture of prayer, praying for God’s leadership to guide us effectively in fulfilling the mission of the church. We invite you – clergy and laity, conferences and congregations – across the denomination to pray for God’s guidance.
In prayer, we can be one in Christ.
Since General Conference 2016, our church has experienced conflict as we navigate rough waters. How can we show God’s great love and mercy to one another as we make decisions? As we move closer to the special-called session of General Conference, we invite all UMC members, across the denomination to pray and ask for God’s guidance.
Bishops Debra Wallace-Padgett of North Alabama Conference and Bishop Al Gwinn serve as co-chairs of the Praying Our Way Forward movement. Bishop Wallace-Padgett says, “Our prayer focus is two-fold: We are praying that God will help us to fulfill the mission of the church, and we are praying to be one in Christ.”
If there is ever a place where we can be one, it’s in the space where we meet God.
If you wish to receive our regular prayer posts or join the prayer community go to the link https://umcprays.org/
SUMMARY OF THE 3 PLANS
THE ONE CHURCH PLAN
- Would have the denomination recognize that marriage is between two adults, not explicitly between one man and one woman.
- It would allow pastors to decide whether or not to preside at same-sex weddings, and it would give local churches the right to decide whether or not same-sex weddings could take place on church properties.
- Finally, it would allow annual conferences (clergy session and Board of Ordained Ministry) to decide whether or not to ordain self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.
- Local Church laity involvement will be able to decide whether weddings can take place on church property (Church Conference votes)
- No vote unless the church desires change
- Clergy will retain right to discern readiness for marriage
- No Constitutional amendments are needed.
THE CONNECTIONAL CONFERENCE PLAN
- Would create three branches of the church, referred to as Connectional Conferences.
- While the three branches would share responsibility and receive support from a number of general church boards and agencies…
- …and operate under a unified Council of Bishops, each branch would have a significant degree of autonomy when it comes to sexual ethics, teachings on marriage, and ordination standards.
- Would require annual conferences to adopt a number of Constitutional amendments
- Every Annual Conference will have to pass amendments by 2/3 of conference votes from ballots of all annual conferences
THE TRADITIONAL PLAN
- Would reaffirm The United Methodist Church’s present standard on human sexuality and call for enhanced accountability standards for clergy, bishops, and annual conferences.
- United Methodist clergy would not be allowed to preside at same-sex weddings, and same-sex weddings would not be allowed on United Methodist property.
- Self-avowed, practicing homosexuals would not be eligible for ordination in The United Methodist Church.
- Self-avowed, practicing homosexuals and performing a same-sex wedding would be a chargeable offense.
- No Constitutional amendments are needed.
About the Commission: The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to LGBTQ inclusion and resulting questions about the unity of the church.
For more information on the Commission on a Way Forward, visit
A Way Forward
Here’s how to communicate with Memphis Conference delegation to 2019 “called session” of United Methodist General Conference
The Memphis Conference delegation is preparing for its work at the 2019 called session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Anyone who wishes to communicate with the delegation should use this email address: COWF@memphis-umc.org
The Memphis Conference is sending the same delegates to the special 2019 session that it elected in 2015 for the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Lay Delegates to 2019 General Conference
- David R. Reed, Martin First United Methodist Church, Martin, TN – first lay delegate
- Elyse Bell, Paris First United Methodist Church, Paris, TN – second lay delegate
- Sandra Burnett, Lone Oak United Methodist Church, Paducah, KY – first lay alternate
- Isabelle Dillard, St. John’s United Methodist Church, Memphis, TN – second lay alternate
Clergy Delegates to 2019 General Conference
- Sky McCracken, Jackson First United Methodist Church, Jackson, TN – first clergy delegate
- Eddie Bromley, Jackson First United Methodist Church, Jackson, TN – second clergy delegate
- Autura Eason-Williams, Capleville United Methodist Church, Memphis, TN – first clergy alternate
- Jonathan L. Jeffords, St. John’s United Methodist Church, Memphis TN – second clergy alternate