As the September 18 due date for General Conference 2020 (GC2020) legislation approaches, United Methodists are of many minds: rapidly drafting legislation but wondering why. The General Conference is in crisis, with United Methodists across the connection resolving to resist the Traditionalist Plan when it goes into effect (January 1, 2020 for US and May 26, 2021 for Central Conferences). What difference does more legislation make? And, why should those of us who care about the mission and ministries of The UMC care?
Whole volumes could be written to address those questions. Many are looking to RMN for explanations, recommendations on legislation to back, direction for a new thing, and more. Through this series of blog posts, we are trying to answer the primary questions we are getting. If there is one you have that you have not seen addressed, email us at admin [at] rmnetwork.org and we will try to respond in a future blog post.
Reconciling Churches and Reconciling United Methodists (RUMs) no longer have a single dream for the future of The United Methodist Church. We are no longer just talking about changing discriminatory language in the Book of Discipline and moving towards justice. General Conference 2019 forced a change in the narrative. Many across the Church are accepting that we have reached a point where there must be some separation. RUMs, Reconciling Churches, and Reconciling Communities are discerning the right next steps for them. The narrative has changed for those who are called to continue to work for justice in The UMC to one of reformation or transformation (because significant change is needed even with the removal of the Book of Discipline’s discriminatory language). For others who are considering leaving, the conversation has changed to defining “something new.”
The several options that would facilitate the options above do not have to be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, many of them cannot happen without a General Conference action. This means engaging with the General Conference, with legislative solutions, and with votes. In an ideal world, that means that those seeking LGBTQ justice and liberation in The UMC must endeavor together to meet the collective needs of the group, bless each other in the next phase of Methodism, and find ways that work for any denominations or networks that form to remain in connection.
Legislation RMN Will Support
RMN will support GC2020 legislation that does the following:
- Promotes intersectional justice for all marginalized persons by and within the Church
- Leads the Church into a season of repentance and reform
- Reverses the actions of General Conference 2019, removes language, and affirms LGBTQ people and their families
- Maintains a global, missional connection based on relationship, not colonialism
- Allows for reform within The UMC
- Allows for groups of churches to leave to form a new denomination without penalty and with funding that allows the new denomination to flourish
- Allows for self-determination
- Makes it affordable for individual churches that need to leave to leave with their property
- Provides a path to continue support to the mission and ministry of today’s UMC in the world.
Many of you have asked us to create a repository for legislation that Reconciling United Methodists are submitting. We have created a repository where we can share legislation that is being submitted across the connection. Questions and legislation should be sent to admin [at] rmnetwork.org.
GC2020 is already confusing. Two plans are already on the table: the Indianapolis Plan, which some interpret as dissolution and others see as a form of disaffiliation; and the Next Generation UMC Proposal, which focuses on what comes next by advocating for reform in The United Methodist Church.
Once actual legislation is released, RMN will share the legislation that we are supporting through this blog.
In the midst of legislative uncertainty and possibility, our role at this moment remains to live into our mission statement:
Living into our shared baptismal covenant, Reconciling Ministries Network equips and mobilizes United Methodists to resist evil, injustice, and oppression as we seek justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
At this moment, living into that mission means holding the tension between the various, sometimes competing perspectives that faithful Reconciling United Methodists now have. The General Conference has proven itself ineffective thus far in charting a course for reformation that leads to the full inclusion of all of God’s children in The United Methodist Church. In any form that the Church takes in the future, and no matter our current uncertainty, the work of creating Reconciling Churches, Communities, and campus ministries remains vital and holy. That is the work of working for justice at all of the intersections of the church, of being in solidarity with the marginalized, of changing hearts and minds and building the kin-dom of God in our local contexts and empowering brave resistance to oppression.