Leaders in the United Methodist Church have announced our General Conference, long delayed by the pandemic and scheduled to take place in August, has been postponed until 2024. Although many called for the delay for health and safety reasons, the Commission on General Conference cited long wait times for international delegates to receive visas as the deciding factor.
There are many ramifications that come with this postponement: 1) delegates will not be able to vote on the proposed split of the denomination over same-sex weddings and ordination of LGBTQ persons; 2) unhappy UMC conservatives will launch their own “Global Methodist Church” denomination on May 1 taking an undetermined number of local churches with them; 3) those conservative departures mean the 2024 General Conference will not need to vote on a split but rather will decide how best to change the UMC’s Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ discrimination; and 4) some progressive local churches, frustrated they are being told to wait until 2024 to perform same-sex weddings, are withdrawing from the UMC to join fully-inclusive denominations.
Our church leaders feel it is a good time to have a Coffee, Dessert, and Difficult Conversation (CDDC). On Wednesday, April 6 at 6 pm, Rev. Mark Flynn will offer a presentation on the ramifications of the General Conference postponement, answer questions, and allow our members to voice their thoughts on what should happen next at First UMC, Oak Ridge. This gathering will be live-streamed for those who cannot be present. Be looking for more information on our next CDDC in the coming weeks.