The United Methodist Bishops are canceling the particular digital session of normal convention
(RNS) – The United Methodist Bishops have canceled a special session of the general conference of the global denomination, due to be held online on May 8th.
The bishops convened the special session late last month after postponing the four-year decision-making body of the United Methodist Church amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The general conference session was postponed from May 2020 to August 2021 and then again to August 2022 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.
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“Much has been learned in the past few weeks and the extended deadline will allow bishops at the church level in general, as well as in our neighborhoods, to listen even more deeply,” Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the council of bishops, said in a written statement Explanation.
“We are grateful for the collaboration with the General Conference Commission and especially grateful for the work that has already begun planning the special session.”
The special session in May was supposed to suspend the rules and allow the use of postal ballot papers.
The special session delegates could have mailed votes to 12 laws that would “denounce our denomination,” as Bishop LaTrelle Easterling said in a virtual Church State address to the United Methodist Church’s Baltimore-Washington conference last week. The legislation included measures related to retirement and the extension of the most recently approved budget to the next session of the general conference in 2022.
It would not have included any measures related to the proposed denomination split on LGBTQ inclusion that delegates are expected to take up when the 2022 general conference finally meets in person. The proposal would allow churches and conferences to vote on the creation of new Methodist denominations. Over the next four years, $ 25 million was allocated to the formation of conservative “traditionalist” denominations.
The General Conference Commission explored the possibility of holding the postponed General Conference session virtually, as much of life was lived online in the past pandemic year. However, a report by the technology studies team set out a number of issues related to such a meeting, including a lack of infrastructure and technology in some places, concerns about eligibility and verification of voter identity, and the security of voting.
Some United Methodists shared the same concerns about the special virtual session, according to the United Methodist News Service.
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The bishops decided against the special meeting on Monday (March 22nd) at a virtual meeting of the Bishops’ Council, which was closed to the public.
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