(RNS) The United Methodist Church General Conference convenes once every four years to make policy decisions and set the direction for the denomination.
Beginning Tuesday (May 10), 864 delegates, half of them clergy, will converge on the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for 10 days for the General Conference. More than 40 percent of those delegates will come from outside the U.S.
Here are six of the most talked-about issues:
1. LGBT inclusion
The United Methodist News Service tallied up more than 100 petitions alone on sexuality.
Several plans have been proposed to streamline all that legislation, including “The Simple Plan” supported by the Reconciling Ministries Network. That plan would change six paragraphs in the denomination’s Book of Discipline that forbid clergy from marrying same-sex couples or and regional conferences from ordaining LGBT clergy. The denomination’s Book of Discipline calls the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The Connectional Table, which coordinates Methodist missions, ministries and resources, has proposed the “Third Way Plan” to allow individual clergy to decide whether to perform same-sex unions. It’s similar to “A Way Forward,” another plan that would allow local church bodies to decide whether to perform same-sex marriages, and conferences to decide whether to ordain homosexual clergy.