Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church has ruled on the constitutionality of the plan known as “The Traditional Plan” that was passed at the Special Called Session of General Conference 2019 (St. Louis, Missouri). In its ruling, some of the petitions were ruled constitutional while others were ruled unconstitutional, and a petition related to a plan for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church was ruled constitutional. With humble gratitude, we acknowledge the diligent and faithful work of the Judicial Council. The decision, made during the Council’s April 23-26 meeting, means that less than half of the Traditional Plan will take effect in the U.S. on January 1, 2020, with Africa, Europe, and the Philippines taking effect twelve months after the next General Conference. The petition on a gracious exit goes into effect immediately. You may review the Judicial Council’s Ruling No. 1378 at http://bit.ly/JCR1378 and No. 1379 at http://bit.ly/JCR1379. An explanation of both rulings is available at http://bit.ly/UMNSApr26.
While graciously received, the intent of the Western Jurisdiction remains the same as was stated on the floor of General Conference 2019: to live in the spirit of “One Church.” The Mission Cabinet and the delegations of the Western Jurisdiction endorsed the One Church Plan before the Special Session, believing it to be the best option for allowing faithful United Methodists of differing theological perspectives to be in ministry together. We believed the One Church Plan was an expression of Wesleyan values that we practice in the West. In the wake of the Judicial Council decisions, we continue our commitment to live into Beloved Community as one church in each of the conferences of the Western Jurisdiction.
Even now, efforts are underway to coalesce our plans and energy to help forge the future of our church. If you are interested and energized in assisting, we invite you to visit the Western Jurisdiction website to volunteer and join this movement. (http://westernjurisdictionumc.org/ahomeforall)
We commit to be true to John Wesley’s tradition of the entire world being our parish. We will continue to relate with one in another in such a way that all people may find our United Methodist Church to be their spiritual home. We will remain united in our determination to make our Jurisdiction a home for all.
Next month, on May 17-18 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and May 20-22 in Leawood, Kansas, persons of courage and faith from the Western Jurisdiction will participate in discussions that are happening and are connecting with representatives from Conferences around the world about the next steps for our Church. Those discussions will continue as annual conferences convene this summer and when our Western Jurisdiction leadership gathers in the fall.
The ruling by our Judicial Council will spark new discussions in our churches and in our Annual Conferences and across the connection. We anticipate that difficult decisions will take place during General Conference 2020. Thus, the road ahead may feel like a wilderness. But we, your bishops, are prayerfully in conversation in many places, with many individuals and groups about your hopes and your vision for being Church in this challenging time. We remain committed to ministry as one church for all and we ask for your prayers for the church and for the future of the love and grace as we travel this road together, not knowing where it will lead us, yet, but confident in God’s presence with us.
Faithfully, The Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, President
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky
Bishop Karen P. Oliveto
Bishop Wilbur W. Y. Choy
Bishop Calvin D. McConnell
Bishop Melvin G. Talbert
Bishop Roy I. Sano
Bishop Elias G. Galvan
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson
Bishop Beverly J. Shamana
Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr.