Hello. I am Debra Wallace-Padgett, resident bishop of the North Alabama Conference. I am speaking from St. Louis, Missouri, a few hours after our special General Conference has concluded.
This week has taken several twists and turns, leaving participants, leaders and observers fatigued. Some in our church are grateful for the outcome. Others, including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, families and friends are deeply hurt. All are weary from the experience.
It will take time to fully process the past few days. As reflected by the debates and votes of this General Conference, United Methodists are a diverse people with differing perspectives living in varying contexts all around the globe.
The legislative body of the General Conference by a majority vote chose the Traditional Plan as our way forward. In addition, there was much energy around the One Church Plan and some discussion about The Simple and the Connectional Conference Plans.
Some parts of the Traditional Plan have been ruled unconstitutional. So, then, what happens now? Our United Methodist way of handling is for this the entire set of approved petitions to go as a whole to the Judicial Council for review at their next meeting. Information about the Judicial Council decision will be shared as it is received. Our Book of Discipline will remain the same until January 2020 at which time constitutional aspects of legislation passed at General Conference will come into effect.
Note that a Leadership Summit will take place on Saturday, March 2 for clergy as well as Local Church Teams consisting of Lay Leaders, Lay Members to Annual Conference, SPRC Chairs and Pastors. The purpose of this gathering is threefold: a time for worshipping and praying together; a time for me to share information, application, timelines and next steps related to the outcome of the Special Session; and a time for a panel consisting of members of our General Conference delegation and Extended Cabinet to field questions.
I encourage all United Methodists to continue to pray for our church, show care for those in pain, and love and affirm the essential worth of one another as we carry on our ministry as United Methodists. I am grateful for all our local churches as they worship, feed the hungry, teach children, help those facing disasters and continue our church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Isaiah 40:31 reads, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” May we find new strength . . . soar high on wings like eagles . . . and walk and not faint.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference