Gary Church, United Methodism, and Human Sexuality
On February 23–26 in St. Louis, Missouri, a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church met. The purpose of this session 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.
The information below is intended to help the congregation process the work of the Special Session and Judicial Council as well as to provide tools needed to evaluate news sources.
Dear Gary Church Family,
Greetings from the Holy Land.
I write this pastoral letter regarding Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church while traveling in the land of Jesus' birth. Yesterday, Gary Church members visited the Church of the
As many of you may know, the Judicial Council of
Gary Church's Task Force will be meeting this month to plan ways that we can be in conversation with one another regarding our way forward as a congregation. In addition, as indicated in the Bishop's letter, I along with our lay members of
See the Bishop's letter below with special attention to the highlighted text.
Please continue to be in prayer for one another, for our congregation, our conference, and The United Methodist Church.
Yours in Christ!
Rev. Dr. Chris Pierson
A letter to the congregation from Pastor Chris (sent March 1 following the Special Session):
I cannot fully express how grateful I am for the prayers and expressions of love I received from Gary Church members and other parts of the Christian community during the recent tumultuous Special Called Session of The United Methodist Church to address our divisions regarding Human Sexuality.
By a vote of 438-384 General Conference approved what is known as the Traditional Plan, the closest margin in our denomination’s history since the first statement was introduced in 1972. However, the majority of the petitions within the plan were ruled unconstitutional for violating parts of the Book of Discipline or for illegality (a technical term within our denomination). The entire document as amended and approved has also been referred to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision and ruling. If ruled constitutional, it would take effect January 1, 2020
but how much of the plan will take effect is unknown. The language in the Traditional Plan may require discernment by the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church, of which Gary Church is a part, regarding how to move forward following the General Conference decision.
After General Conference
the church remains divided and the decision of General Conference illustrates that we are "not of one mind" on this issue. This is true of all denominations, non-denominational, and evangelical churches alike. Several denominations have experienced division over human sexuality in recent years. These divisions have caused great harm to the body of Christ and especially to our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters in Christ, the larger LGBTQIA community, their families, friends, and allies. To those wounded by our words and our actions, please know that you are beloved children of God and I hold you in my heart.
As a delegate to General
To that end, as
I will address the topic on Sunday, March 10 at both worship services and will give a General Conference report at our next Church Council.
Rev. Dr. Chris Pierson
What is happening next?
In June at the Northern Illinois Annual Conference, there will be
How can I learn more about the 2019 Special Session and what it could mean for the United Methodist Church?
Learn more about the Judicial Council ruling here.
Visit umc.org for articles, particularly: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/what-happened-and-what-didnt-at-general-conference-2019
Three debriefings were held across the Northern Illinois Conference. If you were not able to attend, the session held at Barrington UMC was recorded and is available to watch here.
What are some of the responses?
A Message from Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., president of the Council of Bishops: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/president-of-council-of-bishops-speaks-after-general-conference-2019
We will update this page when additional information is available.