Traditional Plan goes into effect Jan. 1

Traditional Plan goes into effect Jan. 1

Bishop Scott J. Jones prays during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

The Traditional Plan was adopted by the special General Conference by a vote of 438 to 384 in February 2019.

The legislation maintains the church stance, which dates to 1972, that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” It also retains bans on officiating at same-sex weddings and being “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy — both chargeable offenses under church law since 2004.

The new legislation aims to tighten enforcement and includes:

  • A more specific definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual,” to say that it includes people “living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.”
  • A ban on bishops consecrating gay bishops elected by a jurisdictional or central conference.
  • Prohibitions on the recommendation or approval of clergy candidates who do not meet clergy qualifications, including those related to homosexuality.
  • A requirement that bishops rule any unqualified candidate out of order even if approved by the clergy session.
  • A requirement of greater involvement of anyone filing a complaint against clergy in that complaint’s resolution.
  • The requirement that bishops only dismiss a complaint against clergy if it has “no basis in law or fact” and that they share those reasons with the complainant. 
  • A minimum penalty for clergy found guilty of performing a same-sex wedding — one year’s suspension without pay for the first offense and loss of credentials for the second. This is the only mandatory penalty under church law.

The new legislation goes into effect Jan. 1 in the U.S. and a year after the 2020 General Conference in church regions in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

From United Methodist News Service