By Andy Adams
This afternoon was wrought with emotion. First the information:
After several amendments and attempts at other amendments, the One Church Plan was defeated by roughly 386 in favor and 436 against – a 50 vote differential. You could hear a pin drop. Being in the front row, I could see the disappointed reaction of many bishops who had touted the plan as their preferred way forward for the last year. Nobody moved – no celebrations, no outcry. Just silence. The truth is, nobody celebrated because nobody won. There has been a collective sense throughout this General Conference that regardless of the outcome, there are no clear winners. Everybody loses. Such was my perception after this vote.
But work continued. A third exit plan was defeated and then a motion was made to bundle the final 18 petitions together and reject them all with one vote. On the surface this seemed logical because none of them received more than 27 percent “high priority.” However, included in these 18 petitions were the Simple Plan (18 percent high priority) and the Connectional Conference Plan (12 percent high priority) – both of which had been faithfully constructed as a potential way forward. After amendments to remove both plans, only the Simple Plan was removed to be discussed – a gracious way to at least hear the pleas of the LGBTQ+ community. And that is what we turned our attention to after soundly rejecting the other 17 petitions.
Emotions obviously ran high. It was clear that this global body was not going to approve the Simple Plan, but there were very few speeches against the plan. In the end, the Simple Plan was voted down by a 60%-40% margin – an indicator to many that the vast majority who favored the One Church Plan saw it as a stepping stone to the more progressive Simple Plan. Still, no celebration. The hurt of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies was obvious. Even in the speeches against the Simple Plan, the speakers indicated that no harm was intended to anyone, but nonetheless it was felt. Again, there were no winners in any of these votes.
The closing worship service was sensitive to the Spirit’s movement among us. There was very little (if any) joy – just a sadness. I observed the body reflecting our shared covenant to love each other and treat each other with respect, keeping our hearts at peace, but clearly understanding “that none of the affirmations in this covenant prevent us from acting on our convictions at General Conference. This [covenant] is about how we will live with one another, not about how we will vote.” But it is difficult to live in that tension. Lord help us.
Tomorrow brings the final day of work. The legislative committee of a whole is complete. All petitions were dealt with (and on time!). Now the plenary body will deal with the following petitions handed to them from the legislative committee:
Other petitions CAN be resurrected either as a substitution to the main motion, or as a minority report that replaces the main motion brought by the legislative committee. Each of them would require a majority vote.
So the work isn’t done, but many of our tanks are empty. Pray for the Lord to fill us with the Holy Spirit for a final day of work.