General Conference 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
What is "Plan UMC"? The "easy answer," say Del Holley, is that it's a hybrid of three earlier plans to restructure the United Methodist Church.
In any case, the General Conference gave tentative approval today to an amended plan that reconfigures general agencies of the church and downsizes their boards. The decision will be finalized (or not) after the General Council on Finance and Administration reports on financial implications later this week.
Today's vote of approval follows days of debate and rejections of previous plans and compromises.
"I was afraid it wasn't going to happen," said Holston delegate Becky Hall.
"This is a monumental decision, a workable document that will help us move forward -- while knowing there will be perfections along the way," Hall said. "But it's definitely a more focused, efficient effort to help our churches become Vital Congregations."
Holley explained that "Plan UMC" replaces the churchwide Commissions on Religion and Race and Commission on the Status and Role of Women with a United Methodist Committee of Inclusiveness.
A General Council for Strategy and Oversight with 34 voting members will oversee the work of the denomination’s four program agencies: the Boards of Discipleship, Global Ministries, Church and Society, and Higher Education and Ministry. See UMNS report for more details.
"As a practical matter, most people aren't going to notice a difference," said Holley, head of the Holston delegation, referring to the restructure plan's implementation.
"As a framework, [Plan UMC] is a step toward accomplishing restructure without a great deal of confusion. We acknowledged that we needed drastic change, but it needed to come in a package that didn't seem so drastic," Holley said.
However, Holley said he was concerned the approval vote didn't reflect a consensus. "The split was 60-40. Although we adopted the structure, the vote reflects a lot of trust issues that need to be addressed."
"Plan UMC" was later referred to Judicial Council for review, after a delegate questioned its constitutionality.
General Conference delegates today also chose not to require United Methodist Church boards and agencies to divest of holdings in three companies said to profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. See UM Reporter report.
See UMNS May 2 "wrap" story: "Delegates approve new structure"
See today's photos of Holston people on Facebook.
Holston fights mosquitos
Holston Conference is one of 12 United Methodist conferences that have committed to support Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s effort to end preventable malaria deaths in Africa.
The annual conferences are part of the “Vanguard Wave” of the ministry’s effort to raise at least $75 million. The announcement was made today in Tampa at General Conference.
The Vanguard Phase of Imagine No Malaria features a balanced approach to engagement, with an emphasis on advocacy activities, major gift cultivation and local church participation. Read press release.
Rukang Chikomb, the missionary pilot with Holston connections, is serving as a translator for 63 South Congo delegates who speak French or Swahili. "I can do more good as a translator than a delegate," said Chikomb, who is translating for his third General Conference. "A delegate only has one vote, but I am helping 63 votes get the point so we can move forward."
Rev. David Hall is here with wife and delegate Becky Hall, but he's spending most of his time preparing for the couple's July trip to South Sudan. Becky will teach leadership training for women, while David will help train preachers and begin woodworking skills training for young people. "While I'm here listening to amendment after amendment after amendment, he's working on his teaching outline," Becky Hall said.
Watch Holston.org this week for "GC Journal," The Call's coverage of General Conference for Holston readers.
See "GC Journal," April 27
See "GC Journal," April 30
See "GC Journal," May 1
Also visit Facebook.Holston.org and Twitter @TheCall_Holston for ongoing coverage, especially photos and late-breaking news.
For quick links to live streaming and the Holston delegation list, visit gc2012.holston.org.
For extensive, minute-by-minute coverage with news, analysis, photos, videos, Twitter, Facebook, live streaming, blogs, and more, visit UMC.org.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call. Text news or photos to (865) 719-9715, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter to Annette Spence @Pauledith.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.