Gary Church, United Methodism, and Human Sexuality
The resources below are intended to help the Gary Church congregation process the work of the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, held February 23–26 in St. Louis, Missouri, and the subsequent Judicial Council ruling, as well as to provide tools needed to evaluate news sources.During this challenging time, we at Gary Church draw on our values that are rooted in God’s unconditional love and our desire to love God and love our neighbor. Grounded in scripture yet willing to ask questions and wrestle with difficult issues, we continue in the tradition of living out our faith by sharing Christ’s love in the world and believe that those core values are reflected in our mission statement:
- Grow in faith, knowledge, and understanding of Christ as Lord and Savior
- Serve our community and the world by sharing time, gifts, talents
- Nurture one another through worship, fellowship, love
- Demonstrate our discipleship to Christ
- Proclaim God's grace and good news
The purpose of the Special Session of the General Conference was to receive and act on the reports from the “Commission on a Way Forward” that examined paragraphs in the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explored options to strengthen the unity of the church. By a vote of 438–384 General Conference approved what is known as the Traditional Plan.
On April 23–26 in Evanston, IL, the Judicial Council, the nine-member top court of the UMC, met to rule on the constitutionality of all legislation passed during the Special Session except the pension matters. The court found that while some provisions of the newly adopted Traditional Plan remain unconstitutional, the rest of the plan is valid as church law.
Letters from Leadership
The following letters were offered in response to the Judicial Ruling on April 23, 2019 from our local (Gary Church), regional (Northern Illinois Annual Conference), and denominational (Council of Bishops) leadership.
What's happening next?
In response to the Special Session of the General Conference, and the subsequent passing of the Traditional Plan, Gary Church established a Task Force on Gary Church, United Methodism, and Human Sexuality. This leadership team includes Greg Perisho, Elaine McCluskey, Eric Ostensen, Michelle Sweeney, James Morris, Carey Bebar, and Rev. Dr. Chris Pierson. The Task Force is committed to providing the congregation with information, discussion forums, educational opportunities, and resources that allow for transparency and reflection in this time of flux.
Below are summaries and articles links from United Methodist News sources that outlines three of the many petitions submitted for the denomination’s future to be considered at General Conference 2020 which will meet in May. In alphabetical order, these include:
- The Indianapolis Plan, submitted by the Rev. Kent Millard and assembled by a group of centrists, traditionalists and progressives. This plan includes provisions for separating into different denominations depending on views around homosexuality.
- New Forms of Unity, submitted by the Texas Conference’s Bishop Scott Jones. Under this plan, an annual conference could become a self-governing church or join an existing one. Jones first began working on the plan with the Michigan Conference’s Bishop David Bard. Bishops do not have a vote at General Conference.
- The UMCNext Proposal, assembled by a group of centrists and progressives. This proposal lifts restrictions related to gay ordination and same-sex weddings, while allowing local churches that disagree to depart and organize into new forms of Methodism.
These three plans were all drafted in the United States.
This chart summarizes and compares some of the proposals that have been submitted to General Conference 2020 about the future of The United Methodist Church. The chart does not include plans from individuals and may be updated after all legislation is published.
Hard copies of the plans can be found in the Task Force on Gary Church, United Methodism, and Human Sexuality Resource Binder located in the Church Office.
Additionally, a Special Session of the Northern Illinois Conference will be held on Saturday, November 16 in Malta, IL and will include a report from the Exploration Team. This team was formed after the June session to explore our future as an Annual Conference, in light of the passing of the Traditional Plan at the special General Conference in February. The report will include an initial draft statement defining who we are as a conference with the values we share and that most closely define us as a conference. A process for feedback and comments to the Exploration Team will be in place over the next few months so that the team can craft legislation for the June 2020 annual conference. See umcnic.org for additional information.
In response to changes in the billing structure of apportionments and a vote at the 2019 Northern Illinois Annual Conference in June to withhold payments to the General Administration Fund, the NIC finance team has put together a list of frequently asked questions.
For more helpful resources, UMC Giving has put together a new Generosity Pastor and Leaders' Kit that includes talking points about The United Methodist Church connection and the impact giving makes in the lives of individuals around the world. Click herefor bulletin inserts, sermon starters, slides, social media posts, and much more. These resources are helpful throughout the year and especially in the fall when stewardship campaigns kick off.
What resources are available if I want to learn more?
We understand that Gary is a “big tent” church, comprised of people with a range of beliefs and viewpoints, and will work to present diverse resources for the congregation’s continued learning and reflection.
The following websites provide sources for continued updates and offer examples of the diverse views on United Methodism and human sexuality and the future of the denomination.
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views by Robert A. J. Gagnon and Dan O. Via
Holy Love: A Biblical Theology for Human Sexuality by Steve Harper
Quick and Easy Guide to United Methodist Polity by Anne L. Burkholder and Thomas W Elliott
Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality Study: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
Additional resources are available at cokesbury.com (a United Methodist publishing house).