Hope for the United Methodist Church?

As United Methodist General Conference 2020 election results come in, I go back and forth about being hopeful in relation to the gains being made by progressives and centrists. I am hopeful because it is apparent that about 3/4 of the newly elected delegates from the U.S. conferences will vote to reject the punitive anti-LGBTQIA+ Traditionalist Plan that was passed at the 2019 General Conference. I am concerned however that it is likely the traditionalists will still get the 50%+1 they will need for the Traditionalist Plan to be upheld at the 2020 General Conference owing to the large number of traditionalist delegates outside of the United States.

I am hopeful because even if the traditionalists get 50% + 1 of the votes to uphold the Traditionalist Plan, it is clear that it will be nearly impossible to enforce such a plan in the United States with so many conferences and churches standing up in opposition. However, I am concerned that at General Conference 2020 we will see some sort of “compromise” made for unity, like the One Church Plan, that will once again be made at the expense of our LGBTQIA+ siblings.

General Conference 2019 made it clear that the only way to hold global United Methodism together as one denomination would be to allow a significant number of our conferences and churches to discriminate against persons who are LGBTQIA-+ and exclude them from the full life and ministry of the United Methodist Church. This is too high of a price to pay for unity.

I hope that General Conference 2020 will allow the current global United Methodist denomination to pass away in such a way that a new Methodism will be created in which all of our LGBTQIA+ siblings will know that their sacred worth equates to equal treatment as they are fully celebrated and affirmed as members of the Beloved Community of all persons and all creation. Unity based on discrimination and unequal treatment is and always will be oppressive.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to Hope for the United Methodist Church?

  1. MomzillaNC says:

    I have much the same hopes and concerns you share. Even if the Traditionalist plan gains the votes in 2020, I truly believe it cannot stand. I know from watching my teenaged son and his peers, the generation coming fast up behind this older one fully embraces the progressive path and our LGBTQ siblings.

  2. Hi Mark, while there may be a slight conservative majority at General Conference, I hope that there may be more of a spirit of compromise, at least for altering our structures for more flexibility. The other area where these elections in the US are hopeful is that all five US jurisdictions will have strong centrist/progressive majorities, which will be crucially important in electing the next class of US Bishops and in making appointments to Jurisdictional Boards and Agencies. At the same time, as you well know and have stated so many times, we must continue to shed the remaining vestiges of Christendom and move out into the neighborhoods around our churches with missional eyes and ears.

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