Call for Gen. Conference Special Session amended

The Council of Bishops has amended its call for the 2019 special General Conference.

Under the new call, delegates to the denomination’s top lawmaking body will receive petitions from the 32-member Commission on a Way Forward—not the bishops themselves. The bishops appointed the commission to help the denomination find a way through its intensifying debate over how the church ministers with LGBTQ individuals.

“The purpose of this Special Session of the General Conference shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon the recommendations of the Council of the Bishops,” said the amended call by Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr., Council of Bishops president. The special General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative assembly, will be Feb. 23-26 next year in St. Louis.

The amended call means that delegates will receive legislation for not only the bishops’ recommended One Church Plan but also the Traditional and Connectional Conference plans the commission brought to the bishops.

However, bishops have delayed the public release of the report because translation is not yet complete.  The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 will become available once it has been translated from English into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and KiSwahili), anticipated by July 30.

Initially, it was expected that the report would be translated and ready for release by July 8, 2018—230 days before the opening of the Special Session, which is the deadline for the submission of petitions. However, delays in negotiating a contract for expanded translation services made that date unworkable.  The scope of the contract for translation for General Conference 2020 was expanded to include translation for the 2019 Special Session as well, in an attempt to negotiate financial savings to minimize the unbudgeted expenditures of the called session. The delay was due in part to the impact of Judicial Council Decision 1360 in May 2018 which expanded the number of petitions that will be filed, and thus must also be translated.

“The Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops join the whole church in the desire that everyone within the United Methodist family have access to these materials simultaneously and in adequate time for us to prepare ourselves for the decisions that will be considered at the special called session,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, ex-officio member of the Commission on the General Conference representing the Council of Bishops.

These and other details are contained in various agency news releases and a UM News Service story all published July 9. To learn more, select and read any of the following accounts: