The United Methodist Oh-So-Very-Radical Plan

Or, how we just eviscerated the constitutional authority of the annual conference and barred celibate gay people and even a few “non-practicing, non-homosexuals” from ordination



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The BoD will have the correct wording

'In four petitions passed by the General Conference, the wording was inconsistent, sometimes omitting the wording “self-avowed” and sometimes omitting the word “practicing.” In its correlation work during the editorial process, the committee brought all the petitions into harmony within the Traditional Plan, using the language “self-avowed practicing.” This work was done with the awareness that all legislation was subject to review by the Judicial Council.'

Sean Hachem more than 3 years ago

Renewal & Reform Press Release on "Practicing"

May 3, 2019
Contact: Patricia L. Miller
Executive Director
7795 E. 21st Street
Indianapolis, IN 46219
(317) 356-9729

A Statement on Ordination Standards
by the Renewal and Reform Coalition

From the very beginning of the 45-year conflict within United Methodism over marriage and sexual ethics, the issue has never been about temptation or attractions. It has always centered on behavior. With that clear focus, the Traditional Plan continues to create standards for practice, not orientation or attraction, despite what some are declaring.

One of the provisions of the Traditional Plan recently approved by the Judicial Council amended Discipline ¶ 415.6 to prohibit bishops from consecrating a bishop or commissioning or ordaining clergy who are "self-avowed homosexuals." The omission of the word "practicing" is being taken by some as the Traditional Plan's intention to change the church's longstanding policy that it is the practice of homosexuality, not the attraction to persons of the same sex, which is contrary to Christian teaching.

The Renewal and Reform Coalition supported the Traditional Plan and some of our leaders submitted it. In this particular petition (90036), the word "practicing" was inadvertently omitted when the plan was submitted. It was never our intention to change our church's policy of what behavior is acceptable for clergy. Our attempts to correct the omission in Petition 90036 in St. Louis were thwarted by the delay tactics used by opponents of the Traditional Plan.

In light of the confusion caused by this omission, the Renewal and Reform Coalition advocates the following:
1) We plan to introduce revisions to the Traditional Plan to the 2020 General Conference, including adding the word "practicing" to ¶ 415.6.
2) Until that correction is made, we urge that no complaints be filed against any bishop who consecrates, ordains, or commissions a "self-avowed homosexual" who is not engaged (or intending to engage) in the practice.

The Coalition affirms the biblical understanding that sexual relations are reserved exclusively for the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. We acknowledge that all of us experience attractions, desires, or temptations to transgress the boundaries God has established for human behavior in the area of sexuality, as well as in many other dimensions of life. To be tempted or attracted is not a sin, but to embrace that temptation and act upon it leads us into behavior that violates God's will for us. We have great respect for those who choose by God's grace to live in celibacy in order to honor the teachings of Scripture and the church, as well as for those who pursue and by God's grace experience the depth of healing that can lead to healthy opposite-sex marriage and family.

To reiterate, The United Methodist Church's long-standing policy is that the practice, not the attraction, of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The Renewal and Refo

Beth Ann Cook more than 3 years ago

photo credit

That photo of Rev. Miles sure looks like a photo that Paul Jeffrey captured. Shouldn't he get credit instead of listing it as a "courtesy photo"?

Mark West more than 3 years ago


This has been noted and corrected. Thank you for pointing out this inadvertent omission.

John Astle (United Methodist Insight) more than 3 years ago

Clarification over the missing "practicing"

From the response section of "Remarks on the April 25 Judicial Council Ruling" by Chris Ritter posted at

Katie Dawson

April 29, 2019 at 6:46 pm

"Just a correction. 90036 did NOT include the word “practicing.” So Bishops cannot consecrate, commission, or ordained “self-avowed homosexuals.” We have now codified that out, celibate, “homosexuals” cannot be consecrated bishops, commissioned as provisional members, or ordained as deacons or elders."


April 29, 2019 at 8:36 pm

"Thanks for this. That was one of the corrections we were hoping to make but were unable to due to obstruction tactics on the floor of GC2019. The omission of “practicing” was unintentional. I support standardizing the wording in 2020. I think we all support that change."

betsy more than 3 years ago


People are asking whether or not the word "practicing" was intentionally dropped from the phrase “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” They wonder if it was perhaps a mistake, an unintentional slip? If this were some ordinary, garden variety phrase from the Book of Discipline that might be believable. But for 40 years we have been arguing about and parsing the meaning of this exact phrase, as well as each word and the combination of words in this phrase. There is no other legislative phrase that has gotten such a high intensity work-out in our church over the last 40 years. We are talking about legislation (a lot of it), legal challenges (many), judicial council decisions (a lot of them), court trials (a lot of them), ruined lives (way too many). The people who wrote and vetted this legislation are excruciatingly familiar with this phrase and its contested history. It is also well known to many (probably almost all ) of the key leaders who supported its passage. Some of them knew. No doubt, many delegates voting for this legislation did not notice the dropped word. But some of them knew. Honest to goodness, if I were a delegate who had trusted my leaders and supported this legislation in part on trust, I would be feeling pretty low about now. (By the way, we all had the legislation - in appropriate languages - well ahead of time. And at General Conference 2019 the total length of the actual legislation was only about 72 pages. “Not noticing” is a feeble excuse. That's a tough word, but a true one.)

Rebekah Miles more than 3 years ago

Obfuscating the issue

This omission of "practicing" was noticed very early on. You seem to be ignoring the timeline of events. The legislation in the TP did not receive the same level of attention as the CCP and OCP. There was a rush to submit the legislation in time to be included with the rest of the COWF work. Legislation to put "practicing" back in was written and submitted almost immediately. No one wants to exclude those who suffer with same-sex attraction from ministry. Again, this was unintentional and will be corrected next year. Had the rest of the Modified TP legislation been voted on, we would not be having this discussion today.

Sean Hachem more than 3 years ago


"No one wants to exclude those who suffer with same-sex attraction from ministry."

YOU might not feel that way...

That's an awfully big leap of faith to think that all Traditionalist supporters view the issue the way you think they do.

Go to your church this weekend, ask to make an announcement, and ask how many members would be fully accepting of a celibate-homosexual or celibate-transgendered pastor. I'd bet that if you are in a conservative church, you'd be lucky to get 30%.

I'd love for you to take a blind vote, count the hands and prove me wrong though.

JR more than 3 years ago

Based on...

"... you'd be lucky to get 30%." What study, straw poll, or anything (other than your own conjecture) do you use to get that? My own gut tells me it's more like 85%. But we'd be left with speculation in opposition to speculation, which only serves to fan the flames.

John more than 3 years ago

So run the test

Simple enough, right?

My numbers aren't pure speculation though - in the 90's, a pastor who was married to a woman came out as gay in a moderate church. He went from being almost universally liked to being ousted. While the societal views have changed a bit since then, I doubt that filters down very far to a conservative church.

JR more than 3 years ago

I think the language is what it is for a reason.

"practicing self-avowed homosexual"

One of things that's tough here is that this splits our liberal wing. Some of them are okay with the substance, but shy away from the progressive rhetoric and affirmation. That's why things are irreconcilable. And painful, as a lot of people will have to choose people their church and their political allies. I don't think it will be easy choices for a lot of the liberals in the church. Purity tests didn't work out well for the fundamentalists (in the UMC at least).

Anonymous more than 3 years ago

Your blame is misplaced.

"we now prohibit Bishops from commissioning, ordaining, or consecrating “self-avowed homosexuals.” What happened to the word “practicing,” you might ask?"

That's a great question, but your answer is misleading. The word "practicing" was left out by mistake while the TP was being hastily written last year. (The Council of Bishops told the COWF to stop working on the TP, so the legislation had to be written quickly in order to be submitted to General Conference. Legislation to fix the mistake was in an amendment. That amendment and many others could not be submitted for a vote because of the antics of progressive delegates and the presiding bishop. You can blame traditionalists, but the language says what it says because of the progressive delegates. We'll fix it next year at GC.

Sean Hachem more than 3 years ago

No snark; just astonishment chutzpah

Wow. You are blaming this key omission in the traditional plan on the Bishops and the progressives. Wow! Really! Wow! I am truly astonished. That's not snark; I'm actually flabbergasted.

Rebekah Miles more than 3 years ago

Doubling down on a misrepresentation doesn't make it true

I'm amazed that you refuse to admit that the "Modified Traditional Plan" that was presented at GC corrected this inadvertent oversight, and that if your side had not played parliamentary games, this would has been passed and corrected. Misrepresenting what happened and ignoring your side's culpabilty for this at GC is a poor witness.

Paul W. more than 3 years ago


The language says what is says because the guy who wrote it missed that part. I'd say it was 'just a mistake', but I've read some of his other stuff and he's pretty clearly anti-LGBTQ+. I'm sure he intended to make it consistent with other language, but let's not fool ourselves here - at the end of the day, the Traditionalists don't want even non-practicing LGBTQ+ folks in the pulpit or the church.

That being said, the reason it wasn't CHANGED to be consistent with the other wording is due to the actions of the progressives, who were trying to delay ANY of the Traditionalist Plan from being passed.

Regarding 'fixing next year at GC':
I believe that won't take effect until 2021
Do you really think that, considering the backlash going on right now, you aren't going to lose some votes?
Word is that there are plans to address an amicable split/new jurisdictional-conference alignment that would override all of this, and that's coming to GC 2020 (with support from many sides here).

JR more than 3 years ago

Not quite

"let's not fool ourselves here - at the end of the day, the Traditionalists don't want even non-practicing LGBTQ+ folks in the pulpit or the church."

JR, if you really believe that, then you don't understand the traditionalist perspective. All people are of sacred worth. All people are welcome in Christ's church. Traditionalists have no desire to keep sinners away from the transforming love of God.

Sean Hachem more than 3 years ago

No, I get it.

You've just decided that while all are of sacred worth, and while all sin is sin, some people are just less worthy than others.

You have more concern and compassion for someone in prison (who has actually sinned directly against other people) than you do for someone who was born homosexual and is in a monogamous relationship.

This isn't the first time the UMC went down this path of exclusionary policies based on limited Biblical references. I'd thought we were beyond such hypocrisy.

JR more than 3 years ago


Did we really drop the word practicing? Petition 90032 reads; “Self-avowed practicing homosexual” is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, Board of Ordained Ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual; or is living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.

Did this wording get changed somehow? The change was intended to close loopholes. I do not see how a celibate person is affected.

Kevin more than 3 years ago

90036 is the one you want to look at

Petition 90036, adopted in the main motion by a vote of 438 to 384, amends ¶ 415.6 by adding the following underlined text:

6. To consecrate bishops; to ordain elders and deacons; to commission deaconesses, home missioners, and missionaries; and to see that the names of the persons commissioned and consecrated are entered on the journals of the conference and that proper credentials are furnished to these persons. <u>Bishops are prohibited from consecrating bishops who are self-avowed homosexuals, even if they have been duly elected by the jurisdictional or central conference. Bishops are prohibited from commissioning those on the deacon or elder track if the Board of Ministry has determined the individual is a self-avowed homosexual or has failed to certify it carried out the disciplinarily mandated examination, even if the individual has been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and approved by the clergy session of the annual conference. Bishops are prohibited from ordaining deacons or elders if the Board of Ministry has determined the individual is a self-avowed homosexual or has failed to certify it carried out the disciplinarily mandated examination, even if the individual has been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry and approved by the clergy session of the annual conference.</u> [CoWF, Submitted by Thomas A. Lambrecht]

JR more than 3 years ago

Heartbroken and Scared

By simply being queer, I will be excommunicated by the church that loved me and helped me answer my call to serve as an Elder effective January 1, 2020. I am not sure what to say. I guess I'm thankful the UMC does not have a police force. But why do I feel like Hitler's army will be looking for me? What the HELL has happened? The UMC is unsafe for my children. I can not allow them to witness these horrific acts on me or any of God's beloved queer children. My God, My God, why has the United Methodist Church forsaken us?

AB more than 3 years ago

So Sorry

I am so sorry. It would wrong for me to try to convince you that it isn't a truly horrible turn of events. It is. At the same time, remember that a lot of UMs (including now many many of our leading centrist pastors and lay people) are absolutely fed up and changes are coming. One of the big stories of GC19 was the radicalization of centrists; it's been something to see. There will be a place for you. Blessings.

Rebekah Miles more than 3 years ago

Happened in 1972

I well remember 1972, when the hateful anti-GLBT rhetoric was first inscribed in the Book of Discipline. Where were you? Are you truly just now noticing the hatred?

The UMC has never been a safe place for GLBT. Never.

Ben U more than 3 years ago

Good and tough question

Good and tough question and my answer illustrates both how long we have been doing this and my culpability. In April 1972, I was 11 and trying to get on the boys football team. A little young to be responsible for that one. Gen Conf 76, I was in attendance in Portland and a young 15. But by 1980 when GC first considered the language “self-avowed practicing homosexual” I was more or less an adult so I think from 1980 on I bear responsibility and you can fairly castigate me in a general way. But in the mid2000s I was a delegate and a foot dragging centrist, so for those years, you and many others would be right to lay into me. I was very wrong. I repent and am working to make amends. And none of that undoes my culpability.

Rebekah Miles more than 3 years ago

Self-avowed homosexual

Petition 90036, regarding ordination of Bishops, somehow left out the term 'practicing'. Backers of the TP swear up and down that this was a mistake-if they don't want to confirm the long-standing suspicion on the part of progressives that 'self-avowed, practicing homosexual' has always been code for 'gay people', they need to correct that 'mistake' at GC2020.

Incidentally, those aren't loopholes. The UMC has always had near-complete regional autonomy-this was a result of the 1940's merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. Rather than ironing out their significant theological differences, they chose a pluralistic approach in which white Methodists were split into 5 regional bodies that each did their own thing, and black people were put into a sixth jurisdiction. In the 1960's, when the United Evangelical Brethren joined to form the UMC, the UEB rightly saw the 'central jurisdiction' system as inherently racist and refused to join unless it was dissolved-the South East and South Central jurisdictions of the Methodist church insisted on changing 'near complete autonomy' to 'complete autonomy' of the Jurisdictions in exchange for dissolving the Central Jurisdiction-an autonomy that is written into our constitutions. That's why every petition that would have bound the conscience of Bishops beyond the jurisdictional level was found unconstitutional.

Joseph Ekstrand more than 3 years ago

Yes I am sorry to say that we did drop it!

We didn't include it in the paragraph about Episcopal responsibilities. The usual language in our BOD is "self-avowed practicing homosexual" but in this paragraph the phrase is "self-avowed homosexual." That's who Bishops can no longer legally ordain, commission or consecrate after January 2020. I would be very surprised if most of the delegates realized it, but the authors and most of the leadership would have known. We have been arguing about and parsing the language "self-avowed practicing homosexual" for a long time; it is a big deal to leave the word practicing out. What a mess.

Rebekah Miles more than 3 years ago

Thank you

Thank you for admitting it. There will be an opportunity to correct the error next year.

Joseph ekstrand more than 3 years ago

Not the first time an error went uncorrected...

Does anyone else remember the ENTIRE denomination having to re-vote on a 2016 constitutional amendment because critical words were inadvertently left off and NO ONE NOTICED until the wrong version failed to receive the aggregate 2/3 annual conference majority? Sometimes in the bureaucratic flow of things, stuff just happens. No conspiracies, no hidden agendas, just human beings making errors. We find the problems, we fix them (or we don't - human nature is awfully capricious!)

KW more than 3 years ago