Questions and answers are being posted below on a regular basis. If you have additional questions, please submit them via the form below or email Carolyn Conover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Could someone on the team comment on the fact that they discerned that church members did not want to be divided or separated into different groups? What were some of the comments or concerns? – UMNews

This summer, the GNJ Way Forward Team organized focus groups, held listening sessions and conducted a survey to get feedback on our work. More than 800 United Methodists in Greater New Jersey responded, and we heard clearly that the people of Greater New Jersey wanted to continue in ministry together and did not want to separate into groups.

When asked, ‘What challenges are your congregations facing?’ most answered that their biggest concerns included mission, worship attendance and finances. Those who responded with concerns over ministry with LGBTQ persons were concerned about divides within their own congregation and with their connection to the denomination.

Here are quotes from what we heard:

We fear that having to define or label ourselves will create hurt and division.

We are remaining steady in this season, but there is a lot of anxiety about what the future will hold. There is no doubt that if the current stance of the UMC remains the same that many members will be leaving.

Our congregation is traditional but not unanimous. I pray that we can move through any process of denominational uncertainty and possible transition without much impact on our congregation’s health and vitality, which are both strong currently.

We work hard to stay in harmony with everyone and include everyone, but it can be challenging.

I am hopeful that inclusion will not split the church.

We would like a church where every voice is heard, where every opinion is valued and where everyone is welcomed.

It’s scaring some of our lay people that if we choose to ignore the Traditional Plan, we may not be able to call ourselves Methodist.

How can we move forward together, and find ways to worship together?

It is apparent that not everyone is accepting of the others’ views on sexual orientation and inclusion. Our leadership will need to find ways to help us to worship and serve side by side as we respect each other’s perspectives. The younger persons desperately need to know we support their predominantly liberal views.

I think we are challenged by the inability to have healthy and constructive loving conversations on justice issues like the sexuality topic in the UMC. In our endeavor to remain neutral, one of the sides is silenced.

Many members are not fully understanding the debates and concerns currently happening. Youth are not feeling welcome. Other potential new members are not feeling welcome. Traditionalists are not feeling welcome and not speaking their voices. Members not wanting to pledge dollars due to shared giving and connectional table including support for traditional plan. Community viewing us as divided and not welcoming. Likelihood of some people exiting denomination.

We don’t understand what piloting an expression of Methodism means, nor what the various labels mean. For example, there are probably only two expressions possible — either a congregation allows same-sex marriages and gay clergy or they don’t. Even a “centrist” expression has to decide whether or not they will support the marriages of same-sex couples so I don’t see how “centrist” can be unique. Right now, we are trying to predict how the Conference could align like-minded congregations under these stances, and we are eager to do this before the Traditional Plan goes into effect. Lastly, the words “collusion,” “traditionalist,” and “progressive,” have political connotations — is there another way to frame the two expressions that sounds less politically affiliated?

There are differing viewpoints. Most feel we can meet in the middle. However, there are some that are set in the traditional mindset.

The uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring and how best to live into it.

The words, “New Expressions Of Methodism” indicate a disassociation into different denominational entities. No congregation is 100% traditionalist or progressive. The creation of these new Methodist entities will further fracture diverse congregations. Some people will feel that they are being invited to leave their home congregation if their views don’t conform to the majority.

As a centrist church, we feel left out from most of the options being talked about, and from the conversation. We don’t seem to belong in any camps.

A new era of Methodism is code word for split. I/we fear a split and a vote within our congregation as to what type of belief on this one issue will cause us to lose several members no matter which one of the three we would choose. Small churches cannot afford to lose members; the challenge would affect our mission, our witness, our service and yes, our finances.

We are challenged in not knowing the spectrum of opinions within our congregation on this important topic – it is important to be able to have a dialogue as a congregation so that we can seek to understand each other and find a path forward together or apart.

What does it mean that congregations are not required to develop a covenant or may choose to wait to develop a covenant and that developing a covenant is voluntary? What happens to those who don’t want to develop a covenant? – UMNews

The GNJ Way Forward Team learned that most congregations were not of one mind in their convictions to be in ministry with LGBTQ persons. Many congregations had not had conversations about the decisions made in February by the denomination, and others reported their congregations were split 60-40 or 50-50. These congregations may not be ready to develop a covenant, but they may choose to have a facilitator help them start a conversation, if they desire. There is no action to be taken if a congregation does not develop a covenant. The covenanting process is fully voluntary.

The plan encourages some churches to start their covenanting work in November. How many churches does the team think might begin this process immediately? Are churches already self-identifying that they want to start a covenant? – UMNews

Some congregations are ready for this process and will begin the covenanting process immediately. GNJ will be prepared to facilitate 60 congregations at a time in the covenant process.

Will all churches have to vote, or only if they want to have a covenant? – UMNews

No. Congregations will not be required to vote. The Way Forward Team never took a vote. Instead, we had conversation, discernment and a commitment to help our congregations thrive in the midst of differences which guided our conversations and led to our report. It was remarkable and Holy Spirit inspired to see people who didn’t agree with each other work with one another to find common solutions we could agree to.

Do pastors and local church members have concerns about having such a vote? Worries that it might divide their church? – UMNews

No votes are necessary. Congregations through graceful conversations and experienced facilitators can find common ground without voting. Key to the process is a compelling goal that everyone can agree to: how to thrive in ministry and serve our community in the midst of different experiences and understanding. The questions that will guide our congregations are:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who is Jesus?
  3. Why do people need Jesus?
  4. Why do people need our congregation?

What are the implications for the rest of the church? Do you see Greater New Jersey as blazing a trail that could be followed by other conferences or even General Conference? – UMNews

Historically, United Methodists from Greater New Jersey have been in the forefront of change within The United Methodist Church.

  • GNJ was among the first in our denomination to ordain a woman 1956.
  • GNJ ended the segregated central jurisdiction in 1966, two years before general conference abolished it.
  • GNJ started an Arabic congregation, the first in our denomination and started one of the first Korean and Filipino congregations.
  • Prince Taylor was the first African American bishop to serve a predominantly white conference in GNJ.
  • Pemberton United Methodist church in the Capital District was the third congregation in our denomination and started worshipping right after Lovely Lane in Baltimore and John Street in NY. These congregations were started 20 or more years before John Wesley gave his blessing to start Methodist congregations and before the Christmas Conference in 1784.

We did all of this not because everyone else was doing it, or we had permission to do it, or everyone agreed we should do it, but because some disciples among us believed that time had come for us to be bold and sensitive, to be courageous and humble, to be convicted and searching. Those disciples who came before us knew that God would help us sort it out and God would see us through.

Have any other bishops or conference officials expressed interest in learning more about what Greater New Jersey is proposing? For instance, Northern Illinois has a special annual conference session next month. Have you conferred with them about their plans? – UMNews

We know from conversations with our colleagues in other annual conferences and reporting from UMNews on the denomination that other conferences have reported regularly on what various conferences are considering.

How is this proposal different from the One Church plan that was submitted to General Conference? – UMNews

The One Church Plan was a General Conference solution. General Conference is not the right vehicle to find denominational solutions to complex contextual matters. These matters are better identified and worked through by annual conferences. This plan works for Greater New Jersey but may not work for others. Greater New Jersey understands and has experience in working with being different and yet united in mission. Also, the One Church plan recommended changes to the language of the Book of Discipline and how jurisdictions fund episcopal offices, which we have no authority over nor a desire to determine these issues for the denomination. In GNJ, all congregations are bound by the Book of Discipline, and all congregations are invited to form covenants about how they will be in ministry together. Congregations that are called by their convictions to be in ministry of full inclusion with LGBTQ persons are invited to make a covenant that affirms their ministry.

Do you think more Traditionalist-minded churches that don’t approve a covenant will stay with the conference? Or do you foresee some of them leaving? – UMNews

The churches in our conference have been in ministry together for more than 200 years. The congregations of GNJ are not ready or willing to have schism over a commitment to find a mutual path forward. An amicable separation is still a schism. Some groups may benefit by a schism, but the church of Jesus Christ and the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church does not benefit from schism.

In Greater New Jersey, our traditional congregations worship alongside our progressive congregations. We have churches who agree with the Book of Discipline on ministry with the LGBTQ community, and we have congregations that don’t agree with the Book of Discipline. The GNJ Way Forward Team invites congregations to develop a covenant that affirms their ministry within their congregation, their connection to other GNJ congregations and their connection to the annual conference and the denomination.

Could General Conference 2020 pass legislation that would invalidate the work the conference has done? – UMNews

General Conference can’t fix the challenges that face our denomination. No vote or piece of legislation will change people’s hearts and minds. The United Methodist Church is global and diverse. A dominant centralized government does not work. We need a polity that is focused on the mission globally and organization and practices identified locally. We remain committed to being loyal to our foundational mission of being disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Are you concerned that complaints will be filed against churches and pastors that host same-sex weddings? How would you handle those? – UMNews

United Methodists in Greater New Jersey are a body of believers who choose to live in grace and unity.

I claim my first call as a pastor, and as a pastor for the people of Greater New Jersey, I will not forward complaints for trial against gays and lesbians who serve the church or those who bless gays and lesbians in marriage. I believe it is the pastoral action to take. The LGBTQ community should not live in fear of what the church will do to them because they pursue their calling or because they want to serve people, or because they seek God’s blessing because all people are of sacred worth.

Would Traditional churches that stay have to agree to a live-and-let live philosophy with LGBTQ-covenant churches? – UMNews

The Way Forward report does not subscribe to a live and let live philosophy. It is based on scripture, tradition, reason and experience. We recognize ministry with LGBTQ Christians, based on our Wesleyan quadrilateral, leads United Methodists to different understandings. This is true of other biblical and theological understandings as well. GNJ is one of the most diverse conferences in the denomination. We are diverse racially, culturally, ethnically, geographically and theologically. The covenanting process will not change how we are in ministry together in GNJ.

How does the conference square the proposed covenants with the restrictions in the Book of Discipline? – UMNews

The GNJ Way Forward Team recognizes that all churches are bound by the Book of Discipline. The team also recognizes that congregations act on their convictions to be in ministry with God, one another and the community, including being fully inclusive with LGBTQ people.

Our goal is to work with our congregations to support their efforts to thrive, to bless one another and to serve the mission and ministries that united us.

Given the questions raised about the GC disaffiliation legislation that are heading to the Judicial Council, what does that mean for the conference’s disaffiliation policies? – UMNews

Since passage of that legislation there have been developments which have muddied the water. First, many annual conferences modified the General Conference process and have asked for Judicial Council approval of their modifications. The Judicial Council meets the end of October. Second, in early August, the Commission on the General Conference did an investigation and reported that there was credible objective evidence of 4 ineligible people casting votes at the General Conference and the passage of this disaffiliation process was only by 2 votes – thereby putting its validity in question. I believe that ultimately, the Commission will ask the Judicial Council for a ruling on this matter, but it was too late to raise it for this Judicial Council session.

So where does this leave us… Regardless of what ultimately is determined and when, by The Discipline, local churches have ALWAYS had the right to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church for ANY reason and the Annual Conference has the authority to set the terms and conditions of that disaffiliation. Therefore, the process described on page 8 is not affected by whatever is ultimately determined by the General Conference/Judicial Council.

What are the places of consensus in the Way Forward group? – UMNews

The Way Forward report is based on the philosophy of agree to not agree. People do not agree with everything in the report, but they agree to move forward in this way for the good of the mission of The United Methodist Church.

Where in the USA and abroad are the approximately two dozen conferences located who are also looking at the model GNJ is proposing? I am wondering if their diversity along theological and other lines are similar to GNJ.  Elaine Wing, Calvary Dumont UMC, Palisades

UMNews has reported regularly on what various conferences are considering.  Two stories that point to actions of annual conferences include:  “Church Future Focus of Annual Conferences”  from May and a July article  “Conferences Mull Denominations Future”.  The UMNews website also has links to the reports from all annual conferences after their sessions this spring and summer and a helpful search bar to find other information.

Whether the “facilitators” are paid or not, they will need resources. From what line item will those funds come from?  Creed Pogue, West Millville UMC, Delaware Bay

We have only just started the process of identifying facilitators and congregations who would like to start a facilitated process.  Some people we have identified to serve as facilitators have indicated they will donate their time.  Some congregations will be willing to subsidize the costs for a facilitator.  If we need to use conference funds for facilitation we will work with CF&A and report out the line items and costs.

What was the collection rate on September 30, 2019 compared with September 30, 2018? Creed Pogue, West Millville UMC, Delaware Bay

The collection rate on Sept. 30, 2018 was 53.08%. The collection rate on Sept. 30, 2019 was 51.55%

The report says that all United Methodist Churches are bound to uphold the standards of the Book of Discipline. However, it also indicates that individual churches are currently and, in the future, will be allowed to disregard the Book of Discipline in certain conditions. Am I correct in my interpretation? If so, who would approve those variances and how would it be any different from current circumstances? Bill Beaver, St. Paul’s UMC, Brick, Northern Shore

The GNJ Way Forward Team recognizes the authority of The Book of Discipline. Yet, the team also recognizes that congregations have convictions about their ministry, who they are to be in ministry with and who God calls them to be. The team invites congregations to develop covenants about how they will be in ministry with God, one another and with the community. All covenants will be different. There will be covenants in compliance with the Book of Discipline. There may be covenants in which congregations take authority to develop ministries with the LGBT community that are not in compliance with The Book of Discipline.

What is the definition of a “covenant” as it is being used in the report and once a covenant is formulated, how will its provisions be binding on the conduct of a church, on clergy, on laity, and on our bishop and cabinet?  – Bob Costello, Wesley, Petersburg UMC, Cape Atlantic

A biblical covenant is an agreement between two people or groups of people or between a person and God. A covenant is not a contract, or policy, or law. A covenant is how people will be in relationship with one another and God regarding an aspect of their common ministry or engagement with one another and the community. The GNJ Way Forward Team is inviting people to covenant for how they will be in ministry and thrive. For some congregations this will include how they will be in ministry with the LGBTQ community. The covenant is an agreement with those who will be doing the ministry together. It is not with GNJ or the bishop or the cabinet. It may include aspects of the pastor’s ministry but it is not mandatory that the pastor engage in the covenant or be bound by the covenant unless the pastor agrees to the covenant.
Many congregations reported their congregation was not in agreement about how to be in ministry with the LGBTQ community.  The covenanting process allows all people to come to the table and all voices to be heard in order to discern a way forward within a congregation.

The covenanting process is Wesleyan as John Wesley believed to be mature disciples of Christ included the joining of believers in a covenant “to serve God with all our heart and with all our soul.” Duet 10: 12-13 (Wesleyan Covenant Service)

Covenants also have Biblical precedence. Christ makes covenant with us, in turn we make it with one another. Heb 10:15-25

The clergy, the cabinet and the bishop are not called to make covenants in the report and any covenants are not binding on the bishop, cabinet or GNJ. A congregation’s covenant is binding on how the congregation will be in ministry with one another and the community.

The sample covenant presented on page 5 of the GNJ Way Forward Team Report is very helpful, but only reflects one point of view. It would have been even more helpful if alternative sample covenants representing several points of view were presented in the report. Could such sample covenants be presented at the Special Conference Session on October 26th? – Arun Thangaraj, Middletown UMC, Northern Shore

There are no sample covenants advocated by the Way Forward Team. If a congregation is going to create a covenant to be in ministry with LGBTQ community, the report suggests a list of items that to be included in their covenant. Because each covenant will be unique to the congregation, sample covenants are not being provided but it is anticipated that frameworks will be developed that congregations may use.

Could we review the “75 pilot expressions of Methodism, including three possible options for churches to consider”, that were initially worked on by the team? – Arun Thangaraj, Middletown UMC, Northern Shore

Based on what we heard from the people of GNJ through the listening sessions, focus groups and survey, the GNJ Way Forward Team decided to modify their original plans.  They are not recommending three expressions of Methodism or pilots for congregations to consider.

If I decide not to perform same sex weddings and my neighboring Methodist church does… how am I protected from lawsuits?  – Elizabeth Ealie, Vineland UMC, Delaware Bay

Pastors are not required to perform same gender weddings even if others decide to do so. In other denominations some clergy are and others are not. The separation of church and state protects clergy from being mandated to perform same gender weddings.

What is expected to be accomplished at the Lincroft special meeting on Oct 26? – Lori Price, Stanhope UMC, Skylands

The Special Session will provide clarity about the report, the Way Forward Team’s reasoning, and how congregations can move forward to thrive in ministry and be faithful to their convictions.

What further action is expected of a church that has already voted to be a Reconciling Congregation? – Patricia Gritzan, Moorestown UMC, Capital District

There are no expectations for congregations to develop covenants. Covenants are voluntary. If a congregation already has a covenant or understanding that they feel is guiding them into the future, it is not necessary to develop a new covenant.

What additional provisions will be required in the covenant between a church and the GNJ Conference besides the church affirmations? – Patricia Gritzan, Moorestown UMC, Capital District

Covenants are made within congregations and not with GNJ. They are covenants about who the congregation is called to be and how they are called to be in ministry with each other and their community. The GNJ Way Forward team is not asking congregations to make covenants with the conference.

Why is the Disaffiliation process not consistent with the disaffiliation process approved by the General Council vote in February 2019? – Patricia Gritzan, Moorestown UMC, Capital District

The disaffiliation process for congregations is aligned with the legislation that was passed in February 2019 and the subsequent Judicial Council ruling in April 2019. This UMNews article provides a thorough overview of the issues.

Why did the Commission not seek to discern, making use of Wesleyan methodology (Scripture, Tradition, Experience, Reason) the will of God for his people on the issue of LGBQT ordination and marriage? Robert Barnshaw, Almonesson UMC, Gateway South

Scripture, reason, tradition and experience were a part of each meeting the team gathered.

Does the representation on the way forward team reflect the conference’s make-up?George Miller, FUMC Cape May Court House, Cape Atlantic

Yes. Church size, location, theology, ethnicity, laity and clergy, young people and senior adults where all part of the team.

How does the Way Forward team plan on protecting clergy from complaints? Chris Miller, the UMC of Absecon, Cape Atlantic

No one can guarantee complaints won’t be filed. This will be talked about further at the special session.

Are we covenanting to not hold trials for complaints on human sexuality as an Annual Conference? Jaemyoung Lee, Wesley UMC, Raritan Valley

The annual conference is not making a covenant. Congregations are invited to make a covenant.

Are congregations and clergy protected from trials in GNJ only if they go through this covenanting process recommended by the Way Forward Team? Jaemyoung Lee, Wesley UMC, Raritan Valley

No. This will be addressed further at the special session.

How would the plan be implemented should there be a change in our episcopal assignment in 2020? Joe Monahan, Medford UMC, Capital

The Way Forward Team invites congregations to develop covenants. It is not dependent on Bishop Schol. While Bishop Schol participated in the meetings, he did not direct the outcome. The Way Forward Team developed its report and decided to move in a different direction from the original vision.

What is the current representation on the Way Forward Team? How many on the team represent the Progressive beliefs, Centrist beliefs and Traditional beliefs in our Conference? – Tom O’Hearn, St. Paul’s UMC Brick, Northern Shore

The GNJ Way Forward Team is a diverse group of leaders that include the Board of Laity, Board of Global Ministries, Board of Trustees, Board of Ordained Ministries, Connectional Table, Council for Finance and Administration, Local Ethnic Concerns Committee, Reconciling Ministries, United Methodist Men (UMM), United Methodist Women (UMW), The Wesleyan Covenant Association, and Youth Council.

In previous communications from the Way Forward Team mention was made of “developing up to 75 pilot expressions of Methodism,” including three possible options for churches to consider. Why did the Way Forward team drop developing these three options for the Special Annual Conference’s consideration? – John Scharf, Morristown UMC, Skylands

The GNJ Way Forward Team held listening sessions, facilitated focus groups and conducted a survey to get feedback from the people of Greater New Jersey and to learn what concerned our congregations. They learned that most people in GNJ:

  • want to remain united
  • want people to be able to live their convictions
  • want to continue our mission, ministry and services together
  • have questions about why we would move into pilots or a different expression
  • want support and an outside facilitator to assist with conversations about human sexuality within their congregation.

Based on these learnings, the GNJ Way Forward Team changed the direction of their work together. There will not be pilot groups or different expressions. Churches will be invited to develop a covenant about their present and future ministry. Covenants will not be the same. They will reflect different contexts and understandings and each will reflect God’s calling to serve the congregation and to be in ministry with the people in the community.

Did the Way Forward Team or the Bishop receive any communication from churches and/or caucuses that if the three possible options were developed, especially the expression allowing churches to pilot a progressive LGBTQIA+ expression, that the church(s) or caucus would possibly withhold full payment of their ministry shares? – John Scharf, Morristown UMC, Skylands

Four churches communicated that they are withholding shared ministry. The cabinet has been in conversation with the congregations. We anticipate they will give their fair share.

Has GNJ contributed its full requested amounts of the apportionments to the General Church so far for 2019. It was shared with me that GNJ is behind on its contributions compared with last year at this time? Derrick Doherty, Middletown UMC, Northern Shore

GNJ continues to faithfully make payments for its General and Jurisdictional apportionments. To the General Church, we are giving what is received from the congregations. Through September, GNJ has received $1,203,522.00 from GNJ congregations for General Church apportionments and has paid $1,203,522.00  to the General Council on Finance and Administration. For the past few years GNJ has been paying its apportionments in one-twelfth increments.  Congregations are now giving most of their shared ministries in November and December and as a result, the Council on Finance and Administration agreed to pay in 2019 at the rate we receive shared ministry from our congregations. We anticipate giving 100% as congregations increase their giving.

The September Financial Commitment Report indicates that only $810,979.34 (33.15%) was received as of September 30th from GNJ toward general church apportionments while the answer to the FAQ submitted by Rev. Doherty says that $1,203,522 was received and sent to GCFA. Can clarification be provided on that difference? Creed Pogue, West Millville UMC, Delaware Bay

The third quarter payment of $392,543.00 was not made in time to be reflected in the September report. It will be reflected on the October Financial Commitment Report which reconciles with the $1,203,522.

If 100% of local churches in GNJ do not submit 100% of the Shared Ministry Funds by year end, what are the conferences plans for our General Church and Jurisdictional apportionments? – Derrick Doherty, Middletown UMC, Northern Shore

GNJ will continue to make payments for its General and Jurisdictional apportionments as they are received from congregations. We anticipate giving 100% as congregations increase their giving.

In the event that The United Methodist Church continues to follow the traditional plan, will the Greater New Jersey conference honor that plan moving forward? – Sandy Callahan, Friendship UMC Monroeville, Delaware Bay

All churches within The United Methodist Church are bound to uphold the standards of the Book of Discipline. There are churches within GNJ that do not follow all of The Book of Discipline. We work with each congregation individually to address issues and concerns and will continue after January 1, 2020 to work with each congregation that may for conscious sake or biblical interpretation or for other reasons do not follow The Book of Discipline as we have done over the years.

Are we thinking of forming our own separate GNJ Methodist denomination? – William Noll, Hamilton UMC, Northern Shore


On January 1, 2020, what will all clergy members be required to state/accept if they are to remain clergy in good standing with the denomination? What are the ramifications for clergy who take a vocal/written position that disagrees with those denominational requirements? Dave Delaney, St. Paul’s UMC, West Deptford, Gateway South

Joe Monahan from Medford UMC prepared an analysis of the legislation and its status from General Conference 2019 and the subsequent Judicial Council Rulings. Click here to read.

What is the goal of GNJ Way Forward Team?

The GNJ Way Forward Team believes congregations, leaders, mission partners and the people in communities have similar hopes: to grow spiritually, to belong and be in community and connection with one another, to be mission-minded and purposeful, to contribute their experience and talents, to be free of judgement of and from others, to do well in our congregations and ministry, to live without fear and to have a voice.

The GNJ Way Forward Team affirms and will continue to plan a way forward that supports our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations to transform the world.

The goal is:

  1. To work with our congregations to identify objectives, opportunities, challenges and structures that support their efforts to thrive.
  2. To renew and create new connections with one another through ministries and mission.

The GNJ Way Forward Team was affirmed by a special session of annual conference in March 2019 to find a path that recognizes that GNJ has disciples who embrace the passage of the traditional plan at General Conference and disciples that are hurt and in disagreement with the denomination’s plan concerning ministry with the LGBTQI+ community.

When did the GNJ Way Forward Team begin?

The GNJ Way Forward Team was affirmed by a special session of annual conference in March 2019 to find a path that recognizes that GNJ has disciples who embrace the passage of the traditional plan at General Conference and disciples that are hurt and in disagreement with the denomination’s plan concerning ministry with the LGBTQI+ community.

How many members are on the team?

There are 36 members, which includes members from both laity and clergy and representatives of the diversity within GNJ.

What is the Traditionalist Plan?

The Traditionalist Plan, which was passed at the Special General Conference in March 2019, maintains our global United Methodist teaching on human sexuality. It increases the penalties associated with ordaining clergy and same sex marriage to include a one year suspension for a first offense and a termination of membership/loss of orders for a second offense. It goes into effect January 2020.

Will something change at the 2020 General Conference?

No one can predict the outcome of the 2020 General Conference, but legislation will not change the hearts and minds of United Methodists or heal the great divide that exists within the denomination over issues involving ministry with LGBTQI+ individuals and more deeply, differences in biblical interpretations.

What are other conferences doing about this a way forward?

Many conferences remain divided along regional and theological lines.  Approximately two dozen conferences are looking at models similar to GNJ and are eager to see our early results and conversations.

What about the other plans being discussed in the denomination?

Various groups within the denomination are discussing options for the future of the church. Some of these may come before the 2020 General Conference. Two of the more widely discussed options are:   

  1.  UMC Next is a group of United Methodists who are proposing to keep the denomination intact, to remove the language in The Book of Discipline that are harmful to and exclusive of LGBTQI persons and to provide greater regional and contextual autonomy through new expressions.
  2. The Indianapolis Plan is a group of both traditionalist and progressive United Methodists, who developed the Indianapolis plan that would maintain the denominations current stance on ministry with LGBTQI persons and birth a separate centrist/progressive United Methodist Church which would practice immediate and full inclusion of LGBTQI persons and would retain the general church agencies.

What is the Reconciling Ministries Network?

The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) are United Methodists working for inclusiveness and the full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. RMN works for full equality in membership, ordination and marriage for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

What is the Wesleyan Covenant Association?

The Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) connects spirit-filled, orthodox churches of Wesleyan theology and their members. Its members share a common understanding of the Wesleyan doctrine and a desire to adhere to the Scripture and two thousand years of Christian tradition.

What is Uniting Methodists?

Uniting Methodists is a movement of Christ-centered, hope-filled, holiness-seeking United Methodists, uniting to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We challenge in love that which divides, and we offer to all people God’s saving grace that transforms the world.