|| Illustration by Stephen Gideon
What to know about General Conference
Why we’re having it, who can vote, and what they’re voting on By Caleb Hennington Digital Content Editor | Follow me on Twitter @arumceditor
he called Special Session of General Conference is finally here. The Feb. 23 – 26 meeting – taking place in St. Louis, Missouri – is the denominations largest meeting and typically occurs quadrennially; the next General Conference happens in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, this year’s General Conference is a special meeting, set up specifically during the last General Conference in 2016 to address the topic of human sexuality and examine paragraphs of the Book of Discipline which focus on this hotly debated topic within the United Methodist Church. There are various paragraphs within the Book of Discipline that relate to human sexuality, but the subject of debate at this General Conference are the paragraphs pertaining to the ordination of LGBTQ clergy and the performance of same-sex marriage ceremonies in the church. ¶304.3 states: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church. Moreover, in ¶341.6, it states: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches. The debate over human sexuality within the UMC is nothing new. For more than 40 years – dating back to 1970 when the second, and only other, Special Session of General Conference took place – the church’s decision whether to allow members of the LGBTQ community full inclusion into the church has remained unresolved.
ARKANSAS UNITED METHODIST