Delegation offers report on General Conference

By Allison Trussell

GREENVILLE—Jackie Jenkins and the Rev. Ken Nelson, leaders of the General Conference delegation, offered their report Tuesday morning at Annual Conference. The General Conference delegation joined them on the stage.

A video created by United Methodist Communications was shown, and Nelson noted that while significant changes have occurred, the mission remains the same. For the local church, the opportunity exists for sanctuaries to be open for same-gender weddings, but is not required. Pastors can choose but are not required to perform same-gender weddings. However, he noted, bishops will continue to make appointments in conversation with local churches to appoint the best person for that church. “You will continue to be in ministry with your community,” Nelson said.

Jenkins noted that the same delegation will be attending the Jurisdictional Conference July 9-12 at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, with additional Jurisdictional delegates. Because no bishops are expected to be elected, she said their primary responsibilities will be the episcopal assignments and setting of episcopal areas.

Several people rose to speak to the report.

The Rev. Kevin Stroop, pastor of Edisto Island-Wesley Memorial Charge, Edisto Island, expressed disappointment in the delegation’s work. “You were asked to do no harm,” he said. “What you brought back to us is harmful. You think you’ve done great joy, but you’ve created more headaches for pastors and people. … You’ve created a UMC that we cannot be a part of. We hope there will be an opportunity for churches to respond to decisions made at General Conference.”

The Rev. Mason Cantey, pastor of Cherokee Springs-Liberty Charge, Spartanburg, provided a voice of support for the delegation, suggesting that this is an opportunity for the church to move forward.

The Rev. Sheila Elliott Hodge, pastor of Silver Hill Memorial UMC, Spartanburg, agreed, but noted that harm happens in a myriad of ways and has happened in the history of Methodism. “Our differences do not have to divide us, but the blood of Christ unites us and teaches us to love beyond what the world would use to harm us.”

The Rev. Steven McNeal agreed with Hodge, saying that when we say we’re doing harm, we harm ourselves, not the church.

Ann Walker, a delegate from Trinity UMC, Sumter, thanked those who stood up to move the church forward, but warned against not hearing those who disagree.

The report was affirmed by the conference.

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