General Conference

Media Advisory: Facing Divison, The United Methodist Church Gathers in St. Louis

on February 21, 2019

Institute on Religion & Democracy Media Advisory
Contact: Jeff Walton: 202-413-5639, [email protected]

St. Louis, MO—The Institute on Religion and Democracy is sending a team led by UMAction Director John Lomperis to the 2019 specially called General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

This historic gathering of the UMC’s top governing body may potentially make decisions that would result in a major global split of the denomination.

The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States, but has a global membership of more than 12 million members in the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines.

The denomination’s longstanding official standards are that all people are welcome in its churches, while also teaching that marriage is only between one man and one woman.

However, there have been growing tensions over liberal bishops and other church officials violating rules forbidding same-sex union ceremonies and “self-avowed practicing homosexual” clergy.

The 2019 special session of General Conference is tasked with deciding between competing proposals to either liberalize church teaching on sexual morality, or uphold current standards and increase accountability.

IRD/UMAction supports the Modified Traditional Plan, which maintains the denomination’s traditional biblical standards, requires discipline when clergy violate related rules, and offers “gracious exits” for congregations and regions who feel they can no longer respect the denomination’s standards.

UMAction is accountable to its Steering Committee and Advisory Board, composed of faithful United Methodist clergy and laity.

What:   General Conference of the United Methodist Church
Who:    864 Delegates of the United Methodist Church
Where: America’s Center Convention Complex, St. Louis, Missouri
When:  Saturday, February 23 through Tuesday, February 26

Available for Interviews:

John Lomperis—Director, The United Methodist committee (UMAction) of the Institute on Religion & Democracy. John is the editor of UMAction Briefing and an elected delegate from the Indiana Annual Conference to General Conference. Lomperis earned his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago, and has an M.Div from Harvard University.

Mark Tooley—President, The Institute on Religion & Democracy. Mark is a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church. Among the publications that have published his articles are The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Religion News Service, The American Spectator, The Stream, National Review, and The Washington Times.

  1. Comment by Kathy Fitzgerald on February 21, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Many members are praying that the general conference does not bend to the pleading of people who do not believe in following the scriptures of God. Read Genesis folks!!!

  2. Comment by David on February 21, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Does anyone really feel that southern white churches will be overjoyed being in a denomination that will soon be controlled by Africans? Once an exit is created, we will see them running to the doors. Others issues are just a cover.

  3. Comment by Rick on February 21, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Wow, David! You’re certainly seem to be painting all of us southern white Methodists as racist! I personally don’t appreciate that as a white Methodist who has a Chinese daughter and a Korean wife. I personally and all of my “white” Methodist friends collectively are thankful for the African Methodists and their willingness to stand on the truth of God’s Word. May God bless you and may he heal your attitude toward your “white” Methodist friends in the southland.

  4. Comment by Eric J LeFevre on February 21, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    This statement reeks of ignorance. Food for thought, in the early 2000s, a group of Episcopal bishops traveled to Rwanda and were consecrated as missionaries to the United States. Thus for many years, the Anglican Mission in North America served under the oversight of black bishops from Africa. During that time, many southern churches voted to sever ties with TEC and affiliate with the AMNA. The AMNA became the Anglican Church in North America.

    So to answer your question, those southern churches will be more than happy being a part of a Biblically faithful church that has a majority of its members in Africa

  5. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on February 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Correction, two Episcopal priests were consecrated as missionary bishops for a group called the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) by the bishops of Rwanda and Singapore. AMIA later was one of several organizations that co-founded in 2009 the Anglican Church in North America.

  6. Comment by Eric J LeFevre on February 23, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Apologies, Jeffrey, I mistook a few of the finer details.

  7. Comment by betsy on February 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I am sure there are those in the south who will be resistant to such a shift in dynamics for racial reasons, but it does not apply to all southern United Methodists. I am a southern United Methodist who is looking forward to Africa gaining the upper hand and I know for a fact that I am not the only one. Furthermore, after GC2012, it was a Bishop from the Western Jurisdiction who made a disparaging remark about Africans and their refusal to “get on board” with the liberal progressive agenda.

  8. Comment by Lee D. Cary on February 22, 2019 at 9:44 am

    David, I reject your implied suggestion that “southern white churches” are bigoted. I suspect you’ve never served a church anywhere as a pastor, David, and relish the role of provocateur.

  9. Comment by Scott sdnurse on February 22, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    David the progressive faction who fears African power. We southern white ministers have no problem with them. Both my bishop and ds are black. They are excellent supervisors and men of impeccable character. While have our liberal boards not welcomed more Africans on the boards. Shamefully they treat them as colonials not full equals. Are you willing to call for equality between African bishops and American bishops.

  10. Comment by John on February 21, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Oh, David, that was just pathetic and shows your intolerance and disdain for Methodists who live in the southern United States. If it makes you feel “progressive” to label the majority of American Methodists as racists, then all you’ve done is proven you are an intolerant buffoon. Hope that little rant about white Methodists in the South made you feel good about yourself because no one else will if that’s your attitude about an entire region’s people. Conservative white Southerners will get along much better with and have a lot more in common with African and African-American conservative Christians than we ever will with intolerant, smug so-called Progressives as you apparently hold yourself out to be. Now we’ve both ranted. Good luck on your faith journey, but I’m okay if it’s a different path than the one I choose to take.

  11. Comment by Bill T on February 22, 2019 at 9:33 am

    David is just a troll looking to be fed. I saw another error filled post of his but recognized the standard attributes of a troll. Read him for the amusement.

  12. Comment by Joyce on February 23, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    I have been a member of United Methodist church in WV for about 6 yrs. When I was first attending my family and friends said don’t go there they have gay pastors. At that time I couldn’t find out if there were gay pastors or not. I grew up Presbyterian. I decided it wasn’t true and ended up joining the Methodist Church. If I had only known the direction of the church back then I wouldn’t have. My husband who grew up Catholic says what’s the problem? Why are they wasting time, energy, money when all they have to do is open their Bibles and read and decide on that?? They are suppose to be a Christian church aren’t they?–don’t they want to follow the Bible or at least consult it instead of arguing? There is clear instruction in both the OT and NT (I found several in NT condemning unrepentant homosexuals). I Corinthians 6: 9-11, Romans 13: 12-14, I Corinthians 5: 9-13, Matthew 5:29, and many more. Looking at NIV version. I found these on my own. No scriptures mentioned about this issue from our leaders. Why isn’t the General Conference discussing what the Bible says instead of opinions of the Bishops nd others etc?? Is this a church or a liberal political movement? I left one conservative church because it was like a Republican rally every Sunday. I came home after church depressed–no love, joy, or fruits of spirit there! just hate. And now I’m in a church that seems to care more about their liberal agenda than pleasing or obeying God. I don’t want politics and personal opinion deciding or interfering with my spiritual walk and weakening our churches spiritual leaders!!

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