The Next Generation UMC Plan envisions a continuing and renewed United Methodist Church that:
- Welcomes everyone into full participation in the life and ministries of the church.
- Relentlessly focuses on making disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Equips persons to live as salt and light in the world, seeking justice and mercy for all.
- Places a moratorium on current charges against UMC clergy related to LGBTQ inclusion, repeals the Traditional Plan, and removes all other discriminatory and exclusionary language about LGBTQ persons from the Book of Discipline.
- Calls for a Commission on the 21st Century Church to prepare a comprehensive proposal for a new structure and governance, with greater adaptability of the Book of Discipline by different regions and more nimble governance structures in which decisions are made close to where ministry happens.
- Provides for local churches that desire to form into new denominational expressions by relaxing the trust clause, allowing these churches to retain their property and missional connections to The UMC, and resolves concerns related to unfunded pension liabilities.
- Offers financial grants to help with start-up of emerging new Wesleyan denominations.
Similarities and contrasts with the Indianapolis Plan:
The two plans agree on several points. Both –
- Call for an exit path for those who do not wish to remain in The United Methodist Church and suspend the trust clause.
- Recognize that the vast majority of United Methodist churches in the U.S. are centrist, comprised of people who fall on different sides of the human sexuality debate.
- Allow for Wespath to continue to serve the pension needs of The UMC and new denominations.
- Acknowledge that The United Methodist Church will remove the incompatibility language from the Book of Discipline.
The plans differ in important ways.
- The Next Generation UMC Plan envisions the continuation of The United Methodist Church while assuring an amicable separation for those churches that wish to depart to form a new expression of Methodism.
The Indianapolis Plan, despite claims that it doesn’t dissolve The UMC, shuts down The UMC to establish at least two new denominations: a “Centrist UMC” alongside the new Wesley Covenant Association denomination and any other new expressions that are established.
- The Indianapolis Plan calls for every annual conference to vote on which new denomination to join (if an annual conference in the U.S. does not vote within seven months, it is placed in the “Centrist UMC” by default). Local churches that disagree with their annual conference’s choice then determine by a simple majority vote which denomination to join.
But the Next Generation UMC Plan provides for only those churches that choose to conduct a vote to do so and requires a two-thirds (2/3) majority to trigger a departure from The United Methodist Church. And the Next Generation UMC Plan does not provide for annual conferences to separate from The UMC.
- The Indianapolis Plan divides The UMC by having the central conferences automatically becoming a part of the new denomination launched by the Wesley Covenant Association. The Next Generation UMC Plan does not.
- The Indianapolis Plan spins off several agencies as independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations. The Next Generation UMC Plan does not.
- The Indianapolis Plan proposes dividing the assets given by United Methodist people to the various new denominations on the basis of unreliable membership statistics and with no regard for how the assets were raised and contributed. The Next Generation UMC Plan provides for generous grants to support the start-up of new Wesleyan expressions.
Keeping The UMC intact is important.
The UMC consists of more than 44,000 local congregations, over 12 million members, more than 100 colleges, universities, and seminaries, over 1,000 mission and community ministries, 152 senior adult centers, 52 hospitals and health care systems, and more (see information here).
Together we give over $2 billion each year to make mission and ministry happen. We support allowing those who choose to leave to do so, but believe the vast majority of United Methodists worldwide do not wish to divide.
- The Next Generation Plan supports greater regional self-determination and self-governance.
- The Next Generation Plan revises Church teachings about the practice of homosexuality.
The plan calls for revisions in the Book of Discipline to guarantee justice for and full inclusion of LGBTQ persons while also honoring the diversity of convictions and contexts across the global connection. We expect continuing robust debate about contrasting views, but each ministry context will be set free to reach different conclusions.
Where can I find more information about the Next Generation UMC Plan and get answers to questions I have about the plan?