Court ruling propels GC2019 strategizing

The United Methodist Church’s top court has clarified what parts of legislation heading to the 2019 General Conference pass constitutional muster.

Now it’s up to plan supporters to decide how they will respond to the Judicial Council’s ruling.

“Whether a piece of proposed legislation is a good idea or not, that’s outside the purview of the Judicial Council,” said the Rev. William B. Lawrence, former Judicial Council president and one of the United Methodists who filed a brief in the case.

“The Judicial Council is only authorized to rule on if something is constitutional as proposed legislation.”

Put another way, the church court did not endorse any proposed legislation but instead ruled on whether the denomination’s constitution allows General Conference to enact such legislation in the first place.

The Council of Bishops asked the Judicial Council to rule on the constitutionality of the three plans contained in the Commission on Way Forward report — the One Church, Traditional and Connectional Conference models. The bishops appointed the commission to find ways for the denomination to stay united amid strong differences around homosexuality. The three plans all offer different directions for the denomination.

Next February, a special General Conference in St. Louis will consider the proposalsas well as any other petitions deemed “in harmony” with the call for the special session.

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