In a key United Methodist General Conference vote setting voting priorities for the next three days, delegates preferred the Traditional Plan backed by global evangelicals over the liberalizing One Church Plan backed by most bishops.
The Traditional Plan, which got nearly 56%, reaffirms current United Methodist teaching on marriage as male and female. One Church Plan, which got nearly 49%, would overturn that teaching and compel local congregations to choose their own definition of marriage.
In one swoop, delegates were asked to vote their preference on dozens of legislative proposals and could vote yes to each one. The vote sets the order by which proposals are considered.
This vote ensures the Traditional Plan will be considered before the One Church Plan and reveals most delegates are not siding with the considerable forces of liberal institutional United Methodism in the USA. Nearly 43% of delegates are from overseas, mostly Africa, and they overwhelmingly supported the Traditional Plan.
Two proposals backed by global evangelicals allowing local congregations to leave the denomination if they dissent from the official teaching on sex also got more votes than the One Church Plan. Potentially liberal congregations could quit United Methodism and take their property under these plans.
The plan receiving most priority votes uncontroversially protects clergy retirement benefits under whatever proposal prevails.
In other good news, Joseph Harris, a senior evangelical clergy leader from Oklahoma, was elected to chair the General Conference during its initial legislative committee session. Legislation must pass in this committee session before the General Conference considers it in final plenary before Tuesday adjournment.