Ask a Delegate | Part 2

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What are some of the scripture passages that you have been reflecting on as you prepare to participate in General Conference 2019?

PSALM 80:1 – “Turn us again, O God; show the light of thy countenance, and we shall be made whole.”

I truly believe the “way forward” is to find our “way back” to God and God’s Word.  We need spiritual renewal in our church! In the “light of God’s countenance, we shall be made whole.” That is a promise I cling to! 

I PETER 3:15-16 – “You must worship Christ as the Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. KEEP YOUR CONSCIENCE CLEAR.”

While I seek to be respectful toward all people and all views, I must be faithful to my own conscience and to my understanding of God’s Word.

MATTHEW 19:4-5 – “ ‘Haven’t you read the Scriptures?’ Jesus replied. ‘They record that from the beginning God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ “

Jesus did not often speak on human sexuality, but when questioned about marriage in this passage, he quotes the well-known verse from Genesis 2:24. Remember, the only Scriptures Jesus and the disciples had in their day was the Old Testament. That, in itself, underscores the importance of the Old Testament, and it should not, therefore, be lightly dismissed. That Jesus defines marriage as a physical and spiritual union exclusively between a man and a woman is without question. How can we, then, presume to redefine marriage as “between two people” as advocated by the One Church Plan?

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How has preparing for this General Conference been different than the previous General Conference in 2016?

Regular General Conference preparation has always been completely overwhelming. No delegate that I’ve spoken with has ever felt properly prepared. The amount of material is incredible. The Special Conference materials are dramatically smaller and the pros and cons have been exhaustively hashed out by several groups. I feel much more secure in my preparation for February.

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What have been your efforts to make UMC members in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference aware of the differences in the plans being voted on? 

I have gone to several local churches that have invited me to lead conversation, answer questions, and present on the plans/issues. I’ve had dozens of conversations, on the phone and in person, with pastors and lay persons to answer questions and listen to opinions, perspectives, and stories. I will continue to make myself available to our conference: 806.866.4200 or

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What is the difference in the traditional plan and the revised traditional plan? Would the book of discipline be changed in any way?

There are not many differences between the Traditional Plan and the Modified Traditional Plan, more importantly, the Modified Traditional Plan makes no effort to amend or correct sections of the Traditional Plan's Implementation Process that were deemed unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. Noteworthy changes that were made in the Modified Traditional Plan Implementation Process include - (1) any annual conference withdrawing to form a self-governing Methodist church under this paragraph shall receive from general Church funds a one-time grant of $200,000 on or after January 1, 2021 to assist with transitional expenses and (2) the Global Episcopacy Committee shall monitor the changing landscape of annual conferences and bring recommendations to General Conference related to reorganization of the jurisdictional or central conferences that may be warranted based on the effects of this paragraph.

The Modified Traditional Plan creates a Global Episcopacy Committee by amending paragraph 512 in the Book of Discipline to make the Global Episcopacy Committee responsible for accountability. That committee will be elected by the General Conference consisting of one of the persons (designated by each delegation) nominated by their annual conference delegations to serve on the several jurisdictional or central conference committees on the episcopacy. Basically, this committee will discuss the possibility of episcopal transfers, administer the complaint process for any complaints filed against bishops who are alleged to have not fulfilled their commitment under paragraph 2801.7a or who are alleged to have committed one of the chargeable offenses under paragraph 2702.1a-b, and investigate allegations that an annual conference has not fulfilled its commitment under paragraph 2801.1a.

I am not sure how helpful it was to modify this plan, if all of the sections of the Traditional Plan that were deemed unconstitutional by the Judicial Council were not addressed. More than half of the proposed changes as they currently stand would be thrown out.

Overall, the Traditional Plan attempts to maintain the Book of Discipline's current stance on prohibiting the ordination of clergy who are in same-sex relationships and prohibiting wedding ceremonies for same sex couples, both in terms of UMC clergy officiating those ceremonies and churches serving as venues for those ceremonies. It then goes an extra step to increase accountability measures for those who do not follow the current Book of Discipline's stance. The areas of the Book of Discipline that would see the most change are related to accountability measures; however, most of them are currently unconstitutional.

What will the three days detail, given that it's one issue?

The three days will look like this: February 23 will be a day of prayer and preparation. February 24 will open with worship at 8:00, then the sessions will begin at 8:20 and end at 6:30. That will happen on the 25th and 26th as well. While it might seem like we are only discussing one topic, we are in fact discussing 78 petitions which would make changes to our Book of Discipline, Social Principles, and/or Constitution. These 78 petitions have been deemed "in harmony" with the original purpose of the Special Called Conference.

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How has preparing for this General Conference been different than the previous General Conference in 2016?

This is my first General Conference experience. I do not know from personal experience, but I would think that preparing for a conference that is called around one task at hand requires different preparation for everyone involved.

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What can the members of our local churches do to help determine the future of The United Methodist Church?

Rather than determining the future of The United Methodist Church ourselves, I believe we need to recognize and trust that God will determine the future of our denomination. I firmly believe that God has His hand in our process. Even though I fully expect General Conference to be messy, I know that the Holy Spirit will be at work guiding the delegates of every position. My personal prayer is that we will trust the Holy Spirit over ourselves. I would also encourage local churches to pray for God's will to be done, and to pray that we have the courage to accept where He leads us.

What are some scripture passages that you have been reflecting on as you prepare to participate in General Conference 2019?

 As I have been preparing for General Conference, rather than focusing on certain scriptures, my mind and my heart has been returning to the life of Jesus. I have been drawn to Jesus's life in preparing myself to deal with individuals, groups, crowds and various ideas. As the Holy Spirit guided Jesus in the wilderness, I pray that I may trust the Holy Spirit in all of my encounters at General Conference.