There are always controversial issues at General Conference (GC) and this was no exception. Concerning the issue of sexuality, all pertinent resolutions were tabled and a commission was formed to study more. GC also voted down a motion to have a special Conference in 2018 to decide this issue. This kept the Discipline as is. Concerning abortion, General Conference voted to end United Methodist membership in the pro-abortion group Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. A resolution supporting the RCRC was defeated. A resolution opposing gender selection abortions was readopted. This kept the Discipline as is on the issue with only our support of RCRC changed.
Other actions include adding 5 more bishops in Africa starting in 2020, starting two provisional annual conferences; one in Rwanda and one is Southeast Asia/Mongolia passed 715-56. (Yes, taking the Gospel around the world is something United Methodists still have great agreement on.) The United Methodist Church in Africa is growing by leaps and bounds. We “boasted” an increase in membership worldwide because their gains are greater than our losses. By the year 2020, there will be more United Methodists in Africa than in North America. We must ask what we can do, not only to help their growth, but turn around our decline. Maybe they know something we don’t or practice something we shun. Let’s learn from them.
The GC voted to allow supplemental ministries for men and women in the local church. (Under the present Discipline only United Methodist Women’s program’s and resources are to be used in the local Church.) I take it that UMM did not have that restriction. In a move to affiliate with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, the GC voted to mandate the General Board of Church and Society to devote the time of one staff person to the cause of persecuted Christians everywhere.
This is a small tip of the iceberg of all GC did this year. Know that our church is active around the world; not just as “us” reaching out to “them.” WE are around the world as US, United Methodists, a growing part of the church of Jesus Christ. -- Ben