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South Carolina UMs among 600 attendees at UMCNext

South Carolina UMs among 600 attendees at UMCNext
Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

By Stanton Adams

LEAWOOD, Kansas—A team from South Carolina joined more than 600 other leaders from across The United Methodist Church May 20-22 for UMCNext, an opportunity to pray, discuss and discern a way forward in response to the adoption of The Traditional Plan.

The Traditional Plan, which was approved by the 2019 special called session of General Conference, retains the church stance that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and strengthens enforcement of church bans on same-sex weddings and “self-avowed practicing homosexual” clergy. The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Held at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, which is the denomination’s most-attended church in the United States, the UMCNext gathering brought together at least 10 representatives from each of the denomination’s 54 annual conferences in the United States. Sixteen bishops were among the attendees.

Dissatisfied with what happened at General Conference 2019, the attendees were hoping to help craft a new path forward for the UMC, as well as crafting plans for the next General Conference—set for Minneapolis in 2020—to consider.

Hartsville District Superintendent Dr. Robin Dease was a South Carolina attendee.

“I attended UMCNext because I love the UMC,” Dease said. “Social inequalities continue to plague our church causing harm and creating division. I wanted to be a part of a movement that will develop strategies to change all the language and polity that prevents us from being a truly ‘beloved community.’”

During three days of round-table discussions, two possible approaches toward a new expression of Methodism emerged––continued resistance to the Traditional Plan with the goal of reforming the church from within, as well as some form of negotiated separation to form a new denomination.

“UMCNext was an experience in authentic holy conferencing with brothers and sisters from across the United Methodist conferences in the United States,” said Rev. Fran Elrod, senior pastor of Clemson UMC, Clemson, and chair of the South Carolina Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, who also attended UMCNext. “The spirit and desire for a true gospel way forward was evidenced by heartfelt testimonies, the embrace (rather than rejection) of our differences and the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Love, as commanded by God, enveloped our work and worship together.”

 

Four commitments of UMCNext

Those gathered were able to identify four commitments they believe to be essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world:

1) To be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in Scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.

2) To resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church that affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations and abilities.

3) To reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to resist its implementation.

4) To work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts and commit to being in ministry together.

Those who gathered will return to their annual conferences to organize and mobilize others who resonate with the four commitments of UMCNext in ways appropriate to their context.

Adams is a lay member serving on staff at Two Rivers Church, Charleston, and was one of the South Carolina leaders in attendance.

6 Comments

  • UMC NEXT! Yes!!! A special thank you to those from SC who attended.

  • […] As seen in the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate […]

  • I truly pray that these 4 statements will be heard and be passed at the next GC. I am grateful as a United Methodist for the Christ centered approach. I cannot live w the Traditional Plan. I have friends and family that are of the LGBQ community and I will not shut the door of the Methodist Church to them

  • Were there only 2 from SC? If not, who were the others?

    • In the article that was written by Stanton Adams, it states that he was there also along with Dease and Elrod. “Where two or three are gathered…”
      Lynn, there are so many many of us who know many gay and transsexual UMC church members and it’s a travesty to see the total deviation from the spirit of the Christ in the BOD and by many church pastors who are really in the “church” business. Individuals are born lgbtq – They were made in the image of God as were we all.

  • So why take the Methodist Church which many members believe is currently as it should be and change it in a way that will split it. If you want a church that allows certain things, then go start or join one that believes that way. There are several good options readily available. Why must you take mine to get yours? This reminds me of the old saying, “the beatings will continue until moral improves.” It is obvious that continuing down this progressive path will lead to a split which everyone says they don’t want. But progressives intend to beat it into the conservatives until we are finally outvoted at some future conference. Sad.

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