Delegates Worship, Hear Way Forward Report, Begin Legislative Session


Just as North Georgia United Methodists began gathering for worship this morning, General Conference convened for its first official day of the 2019 Special Session with worship. 

Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, preached. 

Acknowledging that all gathered brought enough luggage for a few days and some measure of anxiety, he lifted the assurance that so many are praying for this body around the world. 

Bishop Carter preached that "God is able." Paraphrasing John Wesley he said, "With us it is impossible, yet with God there is no difficulty, since with God all things are possible. ... God is able."

He also expressed to the delegates that their work is not a distraction from the mission, it is our mission. He also encouraged them to "watch for the good. You will find it."

Report from the Commission on a Way Forward: Come Holy Spirit

"As christian people we know that a lot of good work can happen in 3 days!" -Rev. Brian Adkins, Commission on a Way Forward

(UMNS) At the first legislative session of the 2019 General Conference, delegates heard the presentation of the Commission on a Way Forward’s report. 

Speaking on behalf of the One Church Plan, the Rev. Jasmine Smothers (pictured), pastor of Atlanta First United Methodist Church, said of the plan’s attempt to maintain denominational unity: “The cost of division is high, cost of disruption to the mission is beyond what we can quantify.”

Mazvita Machinga, a commission member from Zimbabwe, outlined the Connectional Conference Plan’s three values: a new form of unity around shared goals, valuing space and differentiation and valuing all things new. 

Machinga said under the plan, she visualizes “a big church with smaller tents underneath … connected to Christ but reaching out to many different kinds of mission.”

Presenting the Traditional Plan, the Rev. Jessica LaGrone, a Texas Conference delegate who serves in  Kentucky, said it is “an attempt to value unity in doctrine, consistency in practice and mutual accountability,” adding that “the growing chaos in The UMC has overtaken our lives.”

Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area presided over the morning session. Noting that the event was being held in a former football stadium where mighty physical struggles occur between teams trying to win, “for these four days this is not a football arena, this is church.” 

Delegates Begin Considering Proposals

The Commission on General Conference developed a process for determining the order in which legislative proposals will be considered. Petitions that compose a plan will be considered together as one. Petitions that are not part of a plan will be considered individually. Delegates used a system of ranking priority, determined the order they will consider the legislation at hand, then moved immediately into legislative session. Note that the process is not a vote, it is rather a way to set the order in which proposals are considered.

The legislative session, which includes all delegates, elected Rev. Joe Harris as chair, Rev. Betty Masau as vice chair, and Carlene Fogle-Miller as secretary. 

The the first pieces of legislation considered related to WesPath ("Wespath Recommendations - Pension Liabilities and CRS"). Both pieces were passed by the legislative session and will be considered by the body in plenary session for a vote. 

On Monday delegates will reconvene in legislative session. They will begin work on the Traditional Plan. 

See Photos From Today

General Conference Photo File