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.

Courageous Conversations Way Forward PowerPoint Presentation

A letter to the congregation from Pastor Chris following the Judicial Council ruling:

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 Nativity, and held meetings with religious leaders and residents to learn of their lives and challenges here. Today we travel from Jerusalem to the Galilee where Jesus lived, taught, and worked mighty deeds to bring new life, abundant life, and eternal life for all people. 

As many of you may know, the Judicial Council of the The United Methodist Church has ruled on the constitutionality and legality of decisions made at the General Conference Special Session held this February. Below you will find the Pastoral Letter from Bishop Sally Dyck. The letter includes a summary of the decisions regarding the Traditional Plan and a related petition regarding local churches desiring to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church, as well as information regarding what's next (including important happenings, events, and dates). The letter also includes a link to the decisions. 

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 annual conference will be attending annual conference in a few weeks where we will discuss and vote on legislation that could impact our conference and/or churches. 

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

Bishop Sally Dyck's response to the Judicial Council Ruling


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 Conference I can unequivocally state that our debates at General Conference have violated Jesus’ love commandment and Wesley’s admonition to do no harm. We have wounded one another and grieved the heart of Christ who calls us to love one another (John 15:12), calls us to unity and prayed for our unity that the world might believe (John 17:21). We are all beloved children of God and created in God’s image and likeness. 

To that end, as pastor, during Lent, I will be entering a season of fasting, prayer, and repentance. I invite you as members of the Gary Church family to join me and approach this season in prayer for our congregation, our denomination, and the Church universal (please consult your physician regarding fasting). With humility, I also implore you to not repeat the words and actions of our General Conference or cause harm, intentionally or unintentionally, to one another. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:9b-10).

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 discussion of the General Conference and the Judicial Council ruling. 


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 for articles, particularly:

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:

Letter from the NCJ College of Bishops

 We will update this page when additional information is available.

The United Methodist News will continue to provide updates both online and in its Daily and Weekly Digest e-newsletters.







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