General Conference Report

As many of you know, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church met in Special Session from February 23-26. The main purpose of this Special Session was to address requests to change our United Methodist Book of Discipline (the book outlining our church polity) regarding human sexuality. The United Methodist Church has more than 12 million members living in 132 countries all around the world. Delegates attended this meeting from most of those countries.

On Tuesday afternoon, after four days of prayer, discussion, and debate, the General Conference passed the “Traditional Plan” by a margin of 53% to 47%. The Traditional Plan maintains the existing language in the Book of Discipline. This decision will continue to prohibit clergy or churches from officiating or celebrating same-sex unions, and will continue to prohibit the ordination of LGBTQIA clergy. The Traditional Plan also enhances measures to hold clergy accountable to the Discipline of the Church – to which each clergy member vows obedience in their ordination. The Judicial Council of the UMC must review all of the decisions of General Conference, and it may take months before we know what will actually become church law in January of 2020.

While we live into the decisions of the global United Methodist Church, our goal is that the mission and ministry of VHUMC will not change. I have always liked Rev. Dr. Ellsworth Kalas’ description of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Kalas said that at its best it is like a baseball field – the foul lines are there, and the foul poles sit in the left and right fields. There is a lot of room – a great wideness – from foul pole to foul pole, and anywhere in between is fair play. Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church has always been a congregation that welcomes everyone to find their place across the field, and we will continue to be a church that exists to provide a community where everyone can experience a Christ-centered life of purpose.

Please lift each other up in prayer – those with whom you agree, and those with whom you disagree. We know that as the Body of Christ – when one part is hurting we all hurt with them. So please pray for each other, and pray that our church will continue to have the opportunity to reach out to our community and to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

In Christ, Bill Brunson