Jacob and Laban: striking a deal
In a previous post, I pointed out that separation of the two warring sides in The UMC could be effected by Division, Secession,
There are historical examples of each. The Free Methodists and the AME Church are both examples of individuals or small groups withdrawing from the body to form a new one. The ME Church, South is an example of whole parts of the church seceding from the other parts. But what about division? Has that ever happened? As a matter of fact, it has. In 1870, the ME Church, South span off its black membership into a separate denomination, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (now calling itself the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church). How would that work within our current context? Here's my take on it.Plan of Separation for GC 2020
GC 2020 authorizes the following:
1. The creation of a 21-member Steering Committee (7 bishops, 7 clergy, 7 laity) to prepare for the creation of (temporary name) The Progressive Methodist Church.
2. Scheduling and budgeting for an Organizing Conference for The PMC in May 2022.
3. Between the close of GC 2020 and the end of calendar year 2021, any Annual Conference may declare its intention to withdraw from The UMC and join The PMC by majority vote.
4. Between the close of GC 2020 and the end of calendar year 2021, any local church may declare its intention to withdraw from The UMC and join The PMC; local churches within ACs which have voted to join The PMC may declare their intention to remain with The UMC.
5. Between the close of GC 2020 and the end of calendar year 2021, any clergy member, active or retired, may declare his or her intention to withdraw from The UMC and join The PMC; any clergy member of an AC which has voted to join The PMC may declare his or her intention to remain with The UMC.
6. Scheduling and budgeting for a called General Conference to deal with connectional matters (creating or combining Annual Conferences and Jurisdictional Conferences in the wake of decisions made by ACs) and with financial matters (both budgetary and distribution of assets) that arise in conjunction with the creation of The PMC. Called General Conference of The UMC to meet simultaneously with the Organizing Conference of The PMC.
7. Between the close of GC 2020 and the end of calendar year 2021, every delegate to GC and JC/CC shall declare his or her intention to transfer to The PMC or remain with The UMC. These will form the membership of the Organizing Conference of The PMC and the Called General Conference of The UMC. Every bishop, active and retired, will also declare his or her intention to transfer to The PMC or remain with The UMC.
8. The Organizing Conference of The PMC will receive and act on petitions from those Conferences, clergy, and local churches choosing to affiliate with it. These petitions shall all be proposed amendments to the existing Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. At the conclusion of the OC, The PMC will begin operating under its own BOD thereafter.
9. Working teams from the proposed PMC and The UMC will prepare a plan of separation that addresses issues relating to endowments, General Agencies, pensions, etc. Final transfer of assets and organizations from The UMC to The PMC will come as a grant from the CGC/UMC (which means it has to be approved by The UMC; ideally, both groups would agree on the split, but if there is a controversy, The UMC gets the tie-breaker).
10. Both the OC/PMC and the CGC/UMC will prepare budgets for their respective denominations to carry them through until their next regular General Conferences.
Or, we could just have another brawl, with winners and losers like last time, hoping that the losers will give up and just leave before the winners have to pitch them out.
Some of the progressives are making noises about repealing the stuff placed in the BOD last time -- and more, repealing stuff going back to 1972. I doubt their ability to do that, even with all the electoral and procedural skullduggery they can dredge up. But suppose they did manage to do it. They would inherit a UMC reduced to a smoking ruin.
On the other hand, they could cut a deal now, when the traditionalists are open for business and feeling charitable. They would wind up with as much of the church in the end as they would get by fighting for it, and it would be in much better shape for the future they envision for it.
We'll see what they choose between now and next spring.