Rev. Virginia O. (Ginger) Bassford, PhD
The work of this morning has been challenging. There are 862 voting delegates present. It is important to note that the body is not called today as a plenary body, but rather a legislative committee. The work that is done today will then be referred to the plenary body. In case you are wondering, yes, they are the same group of voters, however, this is one way we as Methodists are attempting to work together in an amicable way. I know this is complex; it is also important. For the most part, debate today has been kind and compassionate.
The first piece of legislation with which the body dealt was that of the Traditional Plan (TP). This plan has been previously ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. There were amendments offered on the TP; some passed and one was voted down. The TP with amendments was passed, 461 to 359; 56.22% to 43.78%. There has been a question regarding its constitutionality and it has again been referred to the Judicial Council for ruling.
As was previously determined, the next item with which the body dealt, was the question of disaffiliation. There are two such pieces of legislation. Both of these, with amendments, have also passed.
I can imagine the work of GC2019 thus far could be reported by those who do not understand our system as something like, “The Traditional Plan Passes! Methodists vote to split and disaffiliate!”
While this possibility seems much more likely now than it ever has in the past, I write now specifically to those 19 families at SBUMC that have personally talked with me, pleading for the church to be Christ-like, loving, open, and gracious to their children, nieces and nephews who are LGBTQ.
First, I implore each of us to take a deep breath! God is with us and we are not alone. Do not believe everything you read in the papers! Second, because this body is meeting as a legislative committee, remember that decisions made here will be referred to the plenary session and again be voted on tomorrow. We have not yet gotten to the work of the One Church Plan. That conversation begins after lunch.
Third, St. Barnabas has and will continue to welcome all those who seek God and who desire a relationship with God – regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, skin color, or even color of hair (thank God because mine is getting whiter by the minute) AND regardless of votes taken here. The votes being taken are not – NOT – about the value of an individual to God or to St. Barnabas UMC, or about the worthiness of anyone.
Please know I hold each of you as well as our congregation in prayer. I ask you to hold the whole of the UMC in prayer.
Today, especially, I ask you to hold Bonnie Flynt and her family in prayer on the death of Herrell, as they prepare to celebrate his life at 2:00 this afternoon at St. Barnabas. I desire with all my heart to be with you. I am profoundly thankful for Tag, his presence, his love for Herrell and Bonnie, and his ability to help our church family move through this time of grief. You are all in my prayers as you gather, celebrate Herrell’s life, and walk together in faith.
I will continue to report as the situation unfolds in St. Louis, and as we move to the One Church Plan.