By Jessica Brodie (corrected)
ST. LOUIS—The mood was decidedly heavy Monday (Feb. 25) after Day 3 General Conference business was complete.
The legislative portion of General Conference 2019 adjourned, with delegates tackling all petitions by the close. They passed the Traditional Plan and two disaffiliation plans but rejected the others—including the One Church Plan, the plan put forward by the Council of Bishops.
Tomorrow, GC2019 will reconvene as a plenary session, and it will hear from the Judicial Council as to the constitutionality of the plans, as well as take action—or not. While the Traditional Plan and two disaffiliation plans will carry forward in the plenary, it doesn’t mean there is no possibility for the One Church Plan or any other plans to resurface, delegates said.
South Carolina Delegation Chair the Rev. Tim McClendon said the One Church Plan will likely be submitted as a minority report and come before the body again Tuesday, or there is a possibility someone can offer it as a motion to substitute for the Traditional Plan.
“Keep praying,” McClendon said. “We need it. We need to be bathed in prayer.”
A difficult day
South Carolina Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston said Monday was a hard day for a lot of people.
“We were discussing the petitions we prioritized yesterday, and those can be very difficult. Our delegation got down to the work they’ve been called here to do,” Holston said. “The issues are complex, and they have divided our church.”
He said the day was exhausting but enlightening.
“Everybody has a view, and it’s obvious those views are not the same for everybody.”
Holston called on South Carolina United Methodists to pray and to understand we all have differences of opinion, but we can still work together.
“Let’s not let this be the thing that divides us as a whole,” Holston said. “There’s so much we do together than we can ever do separate, and there’s so much more God has called us to do.”
Still brothers and sisters
South Carolina delegate the Rev. Mel Arant said it was a painful day for many, and he and the rest of the delegates covet the prayers of everyone back home.
“Everyone is trying to live and do ministry and understand God the best way they can,” Arant said. “We’re still brothers and sisters, and this is a painful time for a lot of people.”
The Rev. Ken Nelson, also a South Carolina delegate, said the day was emotionally draining.
“It takes a lot of energy to recognize we’re in different places as a church,” Nelson said.
But he said with prayer and with faith, the church will continue to walk together.
“God is still God, and the church is still a place people come to seek right relationship with God and one another.”
Importance of prayer
We invite you to be in prayer for every delegate, especially our South Carolina delegates and alternates, as well as our resident bishop, L. Jonathan Holston. Lay delegates: Barbara Ware, James Salley, Dr. Joseph Heyward, Herman Lightsey, Jackie Jenkins, Michael Cheatham, Martha Thompson, Dr. David Braddon, and alternates Lollie Haselden and Emily Rogers Evans. Clergy delegates: Dr. Tim McClendon, the Rev. Ken Nelson, the Rev. Tim Rogers, Dr. Robin Dease, the Rev. Tiffany Knowlin, the Rev. Narcie Jeter, the Rev. Mel Arant Jr., the Rev. Susan Leonard, and alternates the Rev. Telley Gadson and the Rev. Michael Turner.
We also invite prayer for the members of our South Carolina media team: Advocate Editor Jessica Brodie and the UMCSC Communications Office Dan O’Mara (communications coordinator) and Matt Brodie (production coordinator), as well as all others from South Carolina here to serve, pray and help.
Need more background?
Read past Advocate articles covering GC2019 and the way forward, plus our overview page on the event, here: http://www.advocatesc.org/gc2019coverage.
Also, stay on top of the South Carolina conference communications office coverage of GC2019 here: https://www.umcsc.org/gc2019
Additionally, United Methodist Communications is livestreaming proceedings at GC2019 in English, French and American Sign Language. The stream at umc.org/live will include all open sessions when the lawmaking assembly meets Feb. 23-26. Visual learners also can view a chart that offers an overview of four main plans under consideration: