By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC
In February 2019, a special called session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church convened in St. Louis, Missouri. The session was called by the Council of Bishops to address human sexuality in The United Methodist Church solely. The delegates were assembled to consider three plans from the Commission on a Way Forward.
Delegates passed the Traditional Plan, which would "affirm the church's current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage. It also boosts penalties and accountability for transgressions of those bans," according to a report from United Methodist News Service on February 26, 2019. The plan is set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Find all of the news coverage from the Dakotas Conference for the called session of General Conference in St. Louis here.
Since February 2019, several groups within the connection have gathered to offer alternative options for a way forward. Legislation has been submitted for consideration and possible enactment by the General Conference when it meets again on May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The following list, published on the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church website, is not exhaustive but includes those plans that have been distributed publicly. Other proposals have been submitted and will be available for consideration by General Conference delegates, in the Advanced Daily Advocate, when it has been translated into the four official languages.
The United States as a regional conference: legislation | FAQ | narrative | press release – July 23, 2019
Bard-Jones Plan: A New Form of Unity PDF | UMNS report – August 8, 2019
Indianapolis Plan: Basic Provisions PDF | UMNS report – August 13, 2019
UMC Next Plan: UMCNEXT proposal | UMNS report – August 19, 2019
N.E.W. Plan: New Expressions Worldwide PDF | UMNS report – September 25, 2019
The Plain Grace Plan: executive summary | plan PDF | timeline
Oppose Dissolution | Preserve Unity Plan: plan | UMNS report – October 2, 2019
The 26th session of the Dakotas Annual Conference, held June 6-8, 2019, at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, affirmed a resolution to eliminate discriminatory language, restrictions, and penalties in the Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. Read more here.
The resolution led to voices of division, confusion, and distrust across the Dakotas Conference. In August, Bishop Ough, resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, convened a small group of clergy to explore words of hope and healing that would be helpful to the conference. The group acknowledged the current reality that the denomination may split over the matter of homosexuality. The group issued a statement expressing hope that a shared Methodist heritage might be a sign of God birthing something new. Read the statement here.