Based on suggestions from our session at Leadership Institute, our team has started a new section to our newsletter to help explain the polity of the UMC. We have asked Rev. Amy Lippoldt to help answer these questions.
Q: I’m hearing a lot about a proposed “U.S. Regional Conference.” If that passes at General Conference, won’t it let us change the Book of Discipline for our context and end the fight over LGBTQ inclusion in the United States?
If only it were that simple! The Connectional Table has submitted legislation for the creation of a “U.S. Regional Conference.” It would meet following General Conference starting in 2024 and be a place to deal with legislation that only effects the U.S. (e.g. our pension plan). This “Regional Conference” would not replace or change Jurisdictions but be an additional layer of polity. It would also allow the U.S. delegates make contextual changes to the adaptable parts of the Book of Discipline. There is on-going work to clarify which parts of the Book of Discipline are Global and which are adaptable (see ¶101). That work will not be completed until 2024. But in current draft form the Global book of Discipline prohibits LGBTQ clergy as well as same-sex weddings in United Methodist Churches. Could that also change? Sure. But the global church seemed pretty clear in St Louis that is was not inclined to do so. This is not to say that a “U.S. Regional Conference” is a bad idea. But even it’s passing would not create a simple and clear pathway to full inclusion in the U.S.
Do you have a question for the UMC Polity Q&A? Send it to Rev. Amy Lippoldt at firstname.lastname@example.org.