United Methodists Reschedule Meeting, Decision on Splitting

United Methodists Reschedule Meeting, Decision on Splitting
Jessica LaGrone, a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, presents the Traditional Plan during the special session of the United Methodist Church General Conference in St. Louis on Feb. 24, 2019.
RNS photo by Kit Doyle

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The United Methodist Church, one of the largest denominations in the United States, has once again postponed its quadrennial meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying further a widely anticipated vote by delegates from across the globe on a proposal to split the denomination over the inclusion of LGBTQ members.

The United Methodist Church General Conference now is scheduled for Aug. 29 to Sept. 6, 2022, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

In the meantime, the denomination’s Council of Bishops has called a special session of the General Conference that will meet May 8, 2021, online.

“When we became aware of the need for a further postponement, we knew that some action needed to be taken in order to free the church to operate and continue to fulfill its current mission until we could gather in person,” Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council of Bishops, said in a written statement.

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This is the second time the denomination has rescheduled the meeting of its top decision-making body, which will gather 862 delegates and other United Methodists from around the world.

Delegates to the General Conference are expected to take up a proposal to split the denomination called “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.” The proposal, negotiated by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across theological divides, would create a new conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denomination that would receive $25 million over the next four years.

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Calls to split have grown since the 2019 special session of the United Methodist General Conference approved the so-called Traditional Plan strengthening the church’s bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists.

The Commission on the General Conference made the latest decision to reschedule the General Conference at its meeting on Feb. 20, according to the denomination. Commissioners decided they were not able to assure full participation of all General Conference delegates, who travel from across the globe, in either an in-person or a virtual meeting.

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