Events & News

Myrtle Treadwell Group
Frequently Asked Questions Series
Frequently Asked Questions Series The United Methodist Church’s next General Conference will meet in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 29 – September 7, 2021. Or will it? Postponed once already due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is possible the quadrennial conference could be postponed again. The Commission on General Conference, the body responsible for planning the ten-day meeting, has indicated it continues to plan as if the conference will meet this year as scheduled. However, Commission members readily acknowledge the state of the pandemic could derail their plans again. Presently, many countries have imposed stiff travel restrictions on those attempting to cross their borders. And while vaccines are now available to fight the pandemic, there is no guarantee they will sufficiently stem the tide by late August. Among many matters before the next General Conference, the most important is legislation calling for the implementing of the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. Negotiated by 16 UM Church leaders, the Protocol calls on the conference delegates to adopt an amicable division of the denomination. The plan has been endorsed by episcopal leaders and advocacy groups representing centrists, progressives, and traditionalists. Many United Methodists believed the plan would have passed last year had the General Conference convened in May 2020 as originally scheduled. Commission leaders are exploring ways to leverage communications technology that would allow it to proceed with the conference this year. Among various options, it is considering a hybrid model where some delegates could meet in Minneapolis and others could join via live streaming. And it is also contemplating an entirely virtual conference where delegates could take-up a few critical agenda items during a compressed schedule spanning just two or three days. The WCA (Wesleyan Covenant Association), along with leading bishops and advocacy groups of all persuasions, continues to support the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. The WCA also believes it is in the best interest of all parties to approve the Protocol’s implementing legislation as soon as possible so centrists, progressives, and traditionalists can plan accordingly for the creation of new denominations. Traditionalists from around the world, including the WCA, are prepared to launch a new, global Methodist church once the Protocol is passed, and it is aware that centrists and progressive are making similar plans for other denominations. “At this juncture, we’re all somewhat stymied by the pandemic,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, WCA President. “The uncertainty of a delayed General Conference is frustrating for local churches, annual conferences, and for the general church. We all know it’s not healthy to remain in this suspended state for much longer; I trust we’ll find a creative way to allow people to move forward sooner than later. Having said that, we certainly understand the difficult challenges confronting the Commission on General Conference; we need to keep its members and staff in our thoughts and prayers.”


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