To the clergy and laity of the South Georgia Conference:
In the last couple of days two matters have arisen related to the special session of General Conference, set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. In the interest of clarity and transparency I want to address each of them.
Anticipated Release of Way Forward Report
The Council of Bishops originally estimated that the Way Forward report would be translated and released no later than July 8, 2018 -- 230 days before the opening of the Special Session, which is the deadline for the submission of petitions. However, delays in negotiating a contract for translation made that date unworkable.
The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 will become available once it has been translated from English into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili). This is anticipated by July 30.
Even with this delay of the public release, it is important to note that the full Way Forward report did meet the 230-day submission requirement of paragraph 507.5 of the Book of Discipline. It will be under consideration at the special session of General Conference.
Read more about the anticipated release.
Revised Call for General Conference 2019
On Monday the Council of Bishops amended its call for the Special Session of the General Conference in response to Judicial Council Decision 1360, which was handed down on May 25, 2018.
The original call said the purpose of the special General Conference would be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.”
However footnote six in Judicial Council decision 1360 says that the wording of the initial call was incorrect.
Under the new call, delegates to General Conference will receive the report and petitions from the Commission on a Way Forward itself — not the Council of Bishops.
It is important to make this clarification now so that the rationale of the special session is in alignment with the ruling of Judicial Council decision 1360.
Read more about the revised call.
I have found that offering as much transparency as possible helps us all to Stay Calm, Stay Connected, and Stay the Course. That is why I wanted to share this latest news with you as soon as possible.
At Annual Conference, I announced that I would be holding meetings in each district to discuss the Way Forward report. I will announce the dates of these meetings in the coming weeks.
Please remember to join the worldwide prayer movement for General Conference. Let us pray daily from 2:23 to 2:26 as we prepare for General Conference.
Alive Together in the World,
R. Lawson Bryan