Is the Northern Illinois Conference so inclusive that it can only include…well, people who think and vote like our conference leaders?
The Northern Illinois Annual Conference will meet virtually next week (July 16-17). Among other things, we will be asked to support Resolution # 700.12 Support for a United States Regional Conference. Here’s the resolution text:
The Northern Illinois Conference views the creation of a US Regional Conference as a necessity for the future of The United Methodist Church. The Conference Secretary shall communicate the support to the organizers of the Christmas Covenant proposal and to the leadership of the Connectional Table.Resolution #700.12
The proposal before us is to segregate the rest of global United Methodism from United Methodism in the United States.
- A regionalized USA First UMC can write its own Book of Discipline without influence from our sisters and brothers beyond the shores of America.
Why would the NIC General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegation ask us to support something so exclusionary and narrow as the creation of a USA First UMC?
- Apparently because their view of “inclusion” includes primarily those who think (and vote) the way they do.
A little background might help us get our bearings:
It’s pretty clear, at least from the perspective of progressives in the UMC of the USA, that it was the African delegates to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference who brought the votes necessary to defeat the “One Church Plan” so strongly advocated by our US-centric Council of Bishops. The African delegates also brought the votes to approve the Traditional Plan. Our longstanding (and current) standards were left in place which define Christian marriage as an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman and which maintain the requirement for our clergy of “celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage.” Though these standards align with what Christians have generally believed everywhere since the earliest days of the Christian movement, many of our Bishops, District Superintendents, and Boards of Ordained Ministry have refused to affirm, administer, or abide by the current standards of the Book of Discipline.
Okay, but what about the resolution before us now at Annual Conference this year?
Ditching our sisters and brothers from the global church would provide USA First UMC progressives enough votes not only to overturn our current standards regarding marriage and ordination, but to engineer a completely progressive reshaping of the United Methodist Church in the US. In some ways the regionalization proposal prioritizes LGBTQIA+ affirmation rather than the inclusion of voices from outside the US in the church’s policy decisions. The inclusion of some comes at the expense of others… an expense that our delegation’s resolution has concluded is worth it.
A “regionalization proposal” was already acted upon by the United Methodist General Conference in 2008 and failed the ratification of the many amendments required to implement it. Though the current Christmas Covenant is promoted as a “new and improved regionalization plan” developed in the Philippines, it is a transparently collaborative effort with progressives in the US to overturn the Traditional Plan. Most observers expect it to fail at the 2022 General Conference but, after the anticipated passage of the Protocol for Separation and the departure of Traditionalists to form the Global Methodist Church, the regionalization plan will have a clear path to approval in 2024 or 2028.
Given the progressive posture of the Northern Illinois Conference and the fact that the overwhelming majority of laity in our local churches have no voice in the votes of the Annual Conference, this resolution will likely pass without much discussion and with flying colors.
The post-separation United Methodist Church might be regionalized sometime in the next decade or so, but you have an alternative right now. If you are more interested in a united global denomination held together by common doctrine, uniform standards, organizational flexibility, and a passion for sharing the gospel of Christ in word and action, you might want to check out the Wesleyan Covenant Association and consider subscribing to the regional chapter in Northern Illinois by clicking below.