Tuesday Conference Pleads with Bishops for Leadership; Today, Bishops Ask for Hold on Sexuality Debate           

Yesterday, General Conference delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough called for unity, but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people. The Rev. Mark Holland, a delegate from Great Plains, said the May 17 call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed, 428-364.

This morning, Bishop Ough delivered a response to that plea on behalf of the Council of Bishops. "We share with you a deep commitment to the unity of the church in Christ our Lord," he said. "We accept our role as spiritual leaders to lead the UMC in a 'pause for prayer' - to step back from attempts at legislative solutions and to intentionally seek God's will for the future." The Council of Bishop’s report recommends that “The General Conference defer all votes on human sexuality and refer this entire subject to a special Commission, named by the Council of Bishops, to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. We continue to hear from many people on the debate over sexuality that our current Discipline contains language which is contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate for the variety of local, regional and global contexts. We will name such a Commission to include persons from every region of our UMC, and that will include representation from differing perspectives on the debate. We commit to maintain an ongoing dialogue with this Commission as they do their work, including clear objectives and outcomes. Should they complete their work in time for a called General Conference, then we will call a two- to three-day gathering before the 2020 General Conference.” Click here to read the full statement and click here to read more from UMNS.                    

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung stood in support of the Council of Bishop's statement, and today said, "Please keep praying for the General Conference community and the whole Church. I believe the community has its own ability and power to navigate the right and holistic paths. I trust and respect that the community carries the abundant way to travel together. Again I trust and respect my fellow United Methodists, especially in this critical time in our life together. I ask all of our churches and fellow Christians in Wisconsin and other parts of the world to claim their own wisdom and authentic desire. My prayer is again, God, stir up our soul to desire to serve you."

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, Great Plains Conference, moved later in the morning today that General Conference support the bishop's creation of a commission and a special General Conference to deal with sexuality issues. Hamilton called the bishops' ideas "our best chance of finding a long-term solution." A substitute motion by the Rev. Chappell Temple, Texas Conference, supported the creation of the commission but called for General Conference to go forward with voting on sexuality petitions. To postpone, he said, would cause "more confusion." The delegates voted against the substitute. Hamilton's motion was still before the delegates when they broke for lunch. Click here to read today’s update form UMNS.

At the noon break, Bishop Ough spoke in a press conference to share more insights about the Council of Bishop’s thinking in making their recommendation. He said that the members of the council are not all of one mind. “Some people believe we represent the diversity in a way that no other group does. Our conversations have been very honest and candid. We certainly understand the urgency; we can’t stay where we are at. The Council of Bishops discussed that in terms of creating the Commission, we are deeply committed to making sure all of the voices are at the table. If we don’t get that right, we aren’t going to get anywhere.”

Later in the afternoon, the Hamilton motion in support of the Council of Bishop’s recommendations was not approved. After that decision, the Conference continued with a discussion about the Council of Bishop’s report.

New Updates from Our Delegates

Read new blog posts on United Methodeviations from Dan Dick, and check out new pictures posted to our General Conference Flickr album. In addition, follow tweets from our delegates and follow the Conference on Facebook and Twitter for timely updates, pictures, and video from the floor of General Conference.

Changes Made to Special Sundays

The United Methodist Church designates a number of Sundays throughout the year as opportunities for recognizing and supporting particular ministries. These are referred to as Special Sundays and some include an offering used to fund the work of these programs. A name change from One Great Hour of Sharing to UMCOR Sunday was approved on Monday, and additional Special Sundays for Women’s Ministry and Volunteers in Mission were approved Tuesday for Special Sundays to be observed by churches.

Tenure Limits for Bishops Fails

Term limits for United Methodist bishops got strong support in a vote at General Conference 2016, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the church constitution. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

GC2016 Proposal Calls for New Panel on Growth

General Conference delegates are asking the Judicial Council about the constitutionality of a plan to reallocate $20 million from General Church ministries to a new committee on U.S. church growth. Proponents say the plan is needed, while others question its ethics or effectiveness. Heather Hahn reports. Read story and post a comment.

Green Light for New Hymnal Project

The United Methodist Church is on track to get its first new hymnal since 1989, and this one will be Internet-cloud based and print-on-demand — the first high-tech hymnal for a mainline denomination. Sam Hodges has the story. Read story and post a comment.

May 17 Wrap-Up: Schism Rumors Quashed​

General Conference 2016 may have started off slowly, but it’s full steam ahead now. On a day with a full docket, delegates considered whether to give $20 million to a group of church growth consultants, whether to eliminate lifetime appointments for U.S. bishops and whether it was time to create a new hymnal. All while the Council of Bishops president denied rumors of a schism plan. Joey Butler reports. Read full story and post a comment.