The day began at 7:15 am, when we gathered for the processional into opening worship. I was honored to preach the sermon, which was taken from Ephesians 2, 3 and 4. As I told many people, one of my guiding convictions as I prepared was that it would be a sermon I could have preached in any church I ever served, from East Bend to Charlotte.
The Commission on a Way Forward gave their report. I am profoundly grateful for the work they did over 18 months. They are courageous and gifted followers of Jesus. I will remember, for a long time, the voices of Jasmine, Casey, Alfiado, Helen, Brian, David, Leah, Julie, Tom, Jorge, Alice and the others.
The first presiding bishops were Christian Alsted and Hope Morgan Ward. I took a break to tape an interview with UMCOM and to speak with a reporter from the New York Times.
Before lunch we learned that some portions of the Modified Traditional Plan were declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. The Modified Traditional Plan was developed in part to address aspects of the earlier Traditional Plan that had been found to be unconstitutional in the fall.
The actions taken today were about prioritization of the legislation. To clarify, bishops do not vote. The delegates vote. These were the priorities of the body: working on Wespath, then the traditional plan, petitions related to disaffiliation, and the one church plan, in this order.
The Commission on the General Conference was wise in developing a process of prioritization for this special session: we are a church on four continents, we speak multiple languages and we live in diverse cultures. And we bring all of this to the complex relationships between LGBTQ identity, the unity of the church and our interpretation of scripture. The prioritization process helps us to focus, and to spend our time on what is most important to the body.
I don’t think it is appropriate for me to comment on how the delegates are voting, or what it means. Bishops have been clear that we are here to support the delegations to do their best work. We are very early in the process and the work is in their hands.
I respect the delegates. The church has authorized them to do this important work. Tomorrow they will revise and amend, in a legislative committee of the whole. And on Tuesday they will bring the petitions back to the general conference.
The day ended with a brief and beautiful service of evening prayer, with Molly McEntire serving as one of the liturgists.
May the Lord bless you with rest and peace this evening.
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
President, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church
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