ST. LOUIS — United Methodist bishops are promoting unity in the global church after delegates narrowly retained biblical marriage and a ban on LGBT ordination at a contentious 2019 General Conference in St. Louis.
Delegates approved Feb. 26 the so-called Traditional Plan by a margin of 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent, going against the One Church Plan backed by the United Methodist Church (UMC) Council of Bishops in advance of the conference. The Plan would have largely left LGBT marriage and ordination in the hands of local church pastors, while the Traditional Plan strengthens church policy prohibiting same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals.
The Southern Baptist Convention has long upheld biblical marriage between one man and one woman in its 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement, and passing resolutions to that effect at annual meetings.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, termed the conference “not only surprising,” but “stunning.”
“It should give hope to all biblically-minded Christians, and it should remind all of us of what we must always clearly see,” Mohler said in his Briefing podcast Feb. 27, “and that is that there is no way for any church or congregation to move ahead in two contradictory directions at once.
“Eventually the choice comes down to faithfulness to the Scriptures or the abandonment of the Scriptures,” Mohler said. “When it comes to the clear teachings of Scripture, there really is no middle ground and that’s not just true for the Methodists.”
Opponents of the Traditional Plan used such tactics as points of order, proposed amendments, impassioned pleas and challenges to decisions of the chair to delay a final vote for hours, and at times erupted in vocal protests during the proceedings that were livestreamed.