The United Methodist Church (UMC) has maintained its official position that homosexuality is contrary to Christian teaching, in a decision following contentious debate over the issue. Delegates at the UMC General Conference, representing all of the global denomination, voted to reject a measure called the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed regional denominational bodies to determine their position on homosexuality. Instead, delegates approved the “Traditional Plan” by 438-384. The Plan maintains the denomination’s stance against homosexuality, gay marriage, and the ordination of homosexuals while promising to better enforce those rules.
Mark Tooley, a theological conservative, celebrated the vote result against the “One Church Plan” on Twitter. “African, Filipino, Euro delegates crucial. They saved a growing global church from imploding.” tweeted Tooley. At the 2016 General Conference, delegates passed a recommendation creating a “Commission on a Way Forward,” to analyse the denomination’s position on LGBT issues. The Commission, made up of a theologically diverse group of UMC leaders, sought to create proposals to end the divisive debate and possibly avoid a schism. In April 2017, the Council of Bishops announced a special session of General Conference would be held in 2019.
The two major plans recommended to delegates were the “One Church Plan” and the “Traditional Plan.” The One Church Plan would allow regional bodies and congregations to determine their own stance on homosexuality. This plan was supported by a majority of the Council of Bishops. The Traditional Plan would maintain the UMC’s position against homosexuality, while offering stricter enforcement and possibly a “gracious exit” for pro-LGBT congregations. The One Church Plan and a pro-LGBT “Simple Plan” were both voted down. Hours were spent debating various amendments to the Traditional Plan proposal which in the end was passed.
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