SEJ delegation heads affirm ‘separation protocol,’ though S.C. not among signers

By Jessica Brodie

Southeastern Jurisdiction lay and clergy delegation heads signed a statement affirming the work done on the “Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation,” but South Carolina was not among the signers.

South Carolina’s lay and clergy delegation heads, Jackie Jenkins and the Rev. Ken Nelson, were two of the four people who did not sign the affirmation statement. Two others—the lay delegation head from the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference and the clergy delegation head from the North Carolina Conference—also did not sign the statement.

“The ‘Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation Through Separation’ is a complex proposal with wide-ranging implications for the future of our denomination. When we were asked to support a statement affirming the work done on the protocol, we determined that we had not had enough time to fully and thoughtfully consider it,” Jenkins and Nelson said in a joint statement on why they chose not to sign the affirmation statement. “We also had not been able to confer with our delegation as a whole, and we did not want to speak on their behalf without doing so. Delegates plan to discuss this—as well as other proposals to address the church’s future—at future delegation meetings.”

Nelson and Jenkins also said signing at that time felt premature, as legislation for the separation protocol had not yet been completed or released. They noted not signing the statement should not be interpreted as a sign of their approval or disapproval of the proposal, but rather as a sign of respect for the members of the delegation.

The statement, released Jan. 29, read, “We, the undersigned SEJ Lay and Clergy Heads of Delegations, affirm the work done on the ‘Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation Through Separation’ and recommend the protocol be among the first legislative items considered by General Conference 2020. We look forward to seeing the related legislation and give thanks to those who did this work on our behalf.”

The signers, listed next, comprise 26 of the 30 total lay and clergy delegation heads.

The Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation was released Jan. 3 by a diverse group of United Methodists—including bishops, traditionalists, centrists and progressives—to split The United Methodist Church in a “graceful” manner.

The proposal would enable the UMC to be preserved while also allowing traditionalist churches to form a new denomination, plus get needed funding and keep their church properties.

Prominent mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, helped the 16-member group craft the proposal. It is one of many plans up for consideration at the UMC’s General Conference, set for May 5-15 in Minneapolis.

To read the separation protocol, as well as the other plans to be considered at General Conference 2020, visit

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