2019 General Conference passes Traditional Plan

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After hours of delaying tactics by opponents, the United Methodist General Conference 2019 delegates passed The Traditional Plan 438 to 384.

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A last-ditch effort to bring the One Church Plan back was defeated in the morning and was followed by efforts to amend the Traditional Plan to address constitutionality issues raised by the Judicial Council, the church's top court.

Later, the Rev. Timothy Bruster, Central Texas, made a motion to request a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan. The motion passed 405-395. The Judicial Council will address the request at its next scheduled meeting April 23-25 in Evanston, Illinois.

The Rev. Gary Graves, secretary of General Conference, said any piece of legislation that the Judicial Council declares unconstitutional will not be included in the Book of Discipline, the denomination's policy book.

Near the end of the day, delegates voted to adopt the minority report for one of the petitions on disaffiliation, which then passed. 

Legislation closed with an omnibus motion to reject any remaining petitions.

At the end of a brief closing worship, Council of Bishops President Kenneth H. Carter wished everyone in attendance "the peace of the Lord in the midst of all you have experienced." 

When the Traditional Plan vote was announced and flashed on the screen, the room erupted with observers singing "Blessed Assurance." Some delegates gathered in a circle and joined in with the singing. 

The delegates on the floor and people in the bleachers went into a call and response, chanting in protest of the vote.

Bishop Carter said that bishops will have to do a lot of outreach after this General Conference, especially to progressives who feel hurt by what transpired.

"We are going to do a lot of outreach to progressives to say we see you," he said during a press conference after General Conference adjourned. Carter is also the leader of the Florida Conference, which has congregations across the theological spectrum.

Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Conference said in a statement that the vote resolves a long-standing debate about how the church "can best accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

In the morning, after passionate speeches, prayers and tears, the "one, last shot" for the One Church Plan was defeated by a vote of 449-374. The plan was defeated the day before in the first vote. 

Delegates and bishops left their seats and drew close together for a prayer.

Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher prayed, "Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come, Holy Spirit, come."

Kathy Gilbert, reporter, Heather Hahn and Joey Butler, contributed to this story, UMNS .

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