Summary of Actions: Special General Conference


The 2019 Special General Conference met February 24-26 in St Louis. Below is a brief summary of the actions taken: 

  1. Two Wespath petitions passed. They addressed the payment of pension liabilities for churches choosing to exit the denomination and the conversion of exiting clergy pension accounts to a “defined contribution” plan, which eliminates any future pension liability for the affected annual conference. 
  2. The Traditional Plan passed except for the main petition. This means that current language around sexuality, restrictions on same-sex weddings, and ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals was retained, but there will be no required certification by annual conferences and bishops that they will follow the Discipline and no method for annual conferences to leave the denomination.
  3. Eight parts of the Traditional Plan that were passed have previously been ruled constitutional by the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council will consider their constitutionality again at its next scheduled meeting April 23-25 but are not likely to reverse their decision. This means that the definition of self-avowed practicing homosexual will include those who are in a same-sex marriage. Bishops cannot commission or ordain lesbian or gay pastors or consecrate them as bishops. Boards of ordained ministry must do a full examination of clergy candidates including whether they are a self-avowed practicing homosexual. Pastors who perform weddings and are convicted by trial will have minimum penalties of one-year unpaid suspension (1st offense) and surrender of credentials (2nd offense). Bishops can only dismiss complaints for reasons of law or fact. Just Resolutions must acknowledge all harm done and be agreed to by the person bringing the complaint. The church can appeal a decision for egregious errors of law.
  4. One part of the Traditional Plan passed but it may or may not be constitutional and awaits the decision of the Judicial Council. It would require all members of the board of ordained ministry to certify they will follow the Discipline.
  5. An amended exit plan for churches passed but it may or may not be constitutional. It would allow for local churches to exit if 2/3 of the members vote to do so and the church pays long-term pension liabilities plus one additional year of apportionments. The Judicial Council will review this petition in April.

Legislation that is found to be constitutional at the April 23-26 meeting of the Judicial Council is expected to become official church law January 1, 2020. 

The North Georgia Conference will continue to update with current information and resources. 

This information was adapted from a summary by Rev. Alex Shanks.