Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Today was the first official day at General Conference. Besides the usual process related motions that had to be considered and were eventually adopted, the business of General Conference commenced. A new process was developed to prioritize the many pieces of legislation that had been ruled acceptable for consideration at the special called session.
First major shift in General Conference procedure was that the whole body was considered a legislative section. Petitions approved in the body in this first step were not automatically approved by the General Conference. Once they were supported in the legislative section, they then need to come before the whole body again for a formal vote.
The prioritizing took place using keypads to record votes electronically and confidentially. As in most cases that I have witnessed, there were considerable glitches in the process which sometimes led to delays of several minutes or more. Once those glitches were ironed out, voting began. Each petition was given a vote either of high priority or low priority; the reasoning being that in the limited time we had to meet, petitions would be considered by the body based on how important they were to the whole body.
The result of this priority ranking which determined the order the legislation will be presented to the legislative section to be discussed was:
- Two petitions offered by Wespath related to pension benefits in the event there is an exiting of clergy received 518 votes of “high priority.”
- The Traditional Plan, which received 459 delegate votes of “high priority.”
- The One Church Plan which received 403 delegate votes of “high priority.”
- A Simple Plan received 153 “high priority” votes.
- The Connectional Conference Plan with 102 votes of “high priority.”
These results are not the final vote on the measures, but they do demonstrate that the body ranked the Traditional Plan more important to consider than the One Church Plan. Obviously, this was not the outcome that I hoped for, and it was not the outcome that the great majority of your bishops were supporting. Those of us who are hoping for a United Methodist Church that is open and welcoming were disappointed for this moment. But there is still an opportunity for us to make our efforts to achieve this goal. Monday will be a crucial day, and I am praying that the Christ-like inclusive love for all of God’s children will prevail. We shall not yet give up hope!