GC2019 Decision - Noel’s Response 

Dear Noel Church Family,

The Special Session of General Conference 2019 ended on February 26. By a margin of 53% to 47%, the called session approved the Traditional Plan. The Traditional Plan keeps the current language around sexuality and increases accountability for violations of The Book of Discipline related to marriage and ordination of LGBTQ+ persons. There are some questions of constitutionality regarding parts of the legislation that are yet to be decided by the Judicial Council, our Supreme Court of the UMC.

Your clergy staff is aware that Noel is a diverse church family. People on both sides of the issues regarding human sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community are faithful members and participants in the ministries of this church. Some are pleased with the outcome of GC2019, while others are saddened by its decisions. While the restrictions involving ordination and same-sex marriage remain in place, nothing has changed or will change in our ministry to ALL of God’s children. Noel will continue to welcome all people into our midst and to participate fully in our ministries. Our doors are open to all who seek to know Jesus Christ and be in a community of fellow believers.

Noel will not change in either our work or our mission. We will continue to do the work to which we are called. We will continue to love and serve those on both sides of this issue. We will not allow the things we do not agree upon to divide us in our work. We will remain the Body of Christ and be faithful to the mission of the UMC to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

See below for further information about General Conference and a message from Bishop Harvey.

 Message From Bishop Harvey

Bishop Harvey reflects on the important matters that were decided in St. Louis as well as her experience as the presiding officer on the last day. All the while, she continues to encourage all of us to hold nothing sacred but the mission.

Special Session 2019 Concludes in St. Louis

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church would like to thank the delegates to the Special Session of the General Conference for their diligent work during the 2019 conference, which ended today in St. Louis, in the United States.

The General Conference is the highest legislative body in the church and the only group who can decide church law and speak officially for the global denomination.  

The 864 delegates (half lay, half clergy) from all over the world met from Feb. 24-26 to discuss and act on the report of the Commission on a Way Forward over the issue of human sexuality. The delegates also considered petitions other than the report from the Commission.

The decision of the General Conference was to offer a majority support for the Traditional Plan.  The vote was 438 to 384. The delegates then voted to ask the Judicial Council, the highest court in the denomination, to review the constitutionality of the approved legislation.

What is the Traditional Plan?

The Traditional Plan keeps the current language around sexuality and increases accountability by streamlining the processes to enforce penalties for violations of The Book of Discipline related to marriage and ordination of LGBTQI persons.  Some parts of the Traditional Plan were ruled unconstitutional, and it will take some time to clarify which parts will become part of our church law and which parts will not.  

“We continue to teach and believe that all persons are welcomed in the church, all persons are persons of sacred worth and we welcome all to receive the ministry of Jesus.  Human sexuality is a topic on which people of faith have differing views,” said Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, after the conference ended. “Despite our differences, we will continue to work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and share God’s love with all people.”

What is the next step for the UMC?

Since the legislation is not the official church law until January 1, 2020, the bishops are urging all United Methodists to stay focused on the mission that glorifies God and reaches new people with the gospel.  Bishops will be holding meetings with clergy and laity in their annual conferences on how details will be handled in each area.