On Tuesday evening, the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church came to an end. As you may already know, the global body did not vote in favor of the One Church Plan, which had been recommended to the Conference by the UM Council of Bishops (although within the US delegation, this plan was favored by almost a two-thirds majority). This plan acknowledged the significant theological diversity regarding human sexuality that exists within our denomination. It created the most gracious space for all of us to continue to be church together under one denominational umbrella. As your pastors, we believe it also best reflected the diversity that exists within Trinity and are saddened that it did not receive support from the body.
Instead a majority of delegates (53%) voted in support of the Traditional Plan as the way forward for our denomination. This plan continues to prohibit both the ordaining of LGBTQ+ persons by annual conferences and the officiating of same-sex marriages by clergy. It also maintains the language in our Book of Discipline that says, "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
This result has caused deep pain to many people, especially LGBTQ+ persons for whom the adoption of this plan feels like a rejection of their personhood. We encourage all of you to be in prayer for those who feel harm as a result of the decision. And to those of you who are LGBTQ+ or have family members who are, as your pastors we especially want you to hear us say that we love you, we are grateful for your presence in the church, and we mourn the pain that has been caused.
You may be asking, "What does this decision mean for the church?" Denominationally, much is still unclear. Significant portions of the Traditional Plan were known to be in violation of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church even prior to its adoption. The Judicial Council of the UMC will sort out constitutionality issues when they meet again in April. Our Bishop of the Florida Conference, Ken Carter, is offering a webinar tomorrow (Friday, March 1) at 11am to share more information about the results of the Special Session and what they mean for the church. To participate, you will need to register ahead of time and can do so here.
Locally, we want you to know that Trinity will continue to be who we already are: a church that is big-hearted, Spirit-led, Christ-minded, and bound by love. We will continue to do ALL the good we can. We will continue to be a congregation that welcomes ALL to come and participate in the life of the church. We will continue to celebrate the gifts of ALL who desire to live and serve as followers of Christ and members of the church. And we will continue, every week, to invite everyone to an open table of communion where ALL find gracious welcome.
There will be more to share and discuss in days ahead. For now, we invite you to join us in prayer for those who feel most vulnerable following General Conference and in doing all we can to make everyone who comes through our doors feel like they can truly say, "It's great to be home."
Grace and Peace,