That seems to be the question for many of us following the General Conference Session in February. With the approval of “The Traditional Plan,” we wonder what will happen to the United Methodist Church. How will our local church be affected? We would like to have a quick and clear path for our church, our conference, our denomination. But quick is never the way large institutions work, and so we are left with a sense of unease in this liminal time .
Slowly we see clues as to what may lay ahead. At the Mountain Sky Annual Conference in Billings, Montana (June 13-16), the delegates approved several petitions that give a sense of how they would like the conference to respond to General Conference’s approval of “The Traditional Plan.” One petition basically reaffirmed how the conference has functioned for some time in regard to same-sex marriages and ordination of LGBTQI+ persons; that is the conference will consider candidates for ordination based on their call to ministry and without regard to sexual orientation or gender identification and the conference will not take disciplinary action against clergy who choose to perform same-sex unions. Another petition calls for a special session of the Western Jurisdiction to consider and develop a process for separation from the United Methodist Church. (you can find all the petitions approved by the annual conference at https://www.mtnskyumc.org/2019-conference-petitions).
In addition to petitions passed, the conference elected delegates to the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. From a denominational standpoint, The Traditional Plan goes into affect January 1, 2020. I would expect petitions seeking to repeal that plan as well as others to make it more strict. But none of that can happen until the General Conference meets in May 2020.
Here at Green Mountain we are taking one step toward determining how we want to respond by holding an All-Church Conference on July 21 after the 10:30 service of worship to determine whether we will allow same sex marriages, unions or celebration to take place in the building or on the property. All members are encouraged to attend, and only members who are physically present at the meeting may vote.
Where do we go from here? There are clues, but only time will tell. May God be with us as we make our way through these uncertain times.
Peace, salaam, paix, shalom, heiwa,