Planning New Directions for the Church

Planning New Directions for the Church


The Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli (center) answers a question at the press conference following UMCNext. Looking on are fellow convening team members the Rev. DJ del Rosario (left) and Karen G. Prudente, a member of the NYAC delegation to the 2019 General Conference.. Photo by David Burke, Great Plains Conference.

By Heather Hahn
May 22, 2019 | LEAWOOD, Kan. (UM News)

More than 600 U.S. United Methodists spent three days grappling with possible options for forging what they hope will be a more just and inclusive church future.

What united those at UMCNext, which met May 20-22 behind closed doors, was their opposition to the Traditional Plan.

That legislation, which the special 2019 General Conference approved by a vote of 438-384, retains the church stance that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and strengthens enforcement of church bans on same-sex weddings and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy.

The increased enforcement takes effect Jan. 1 in the U.S. But another General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, is also just around the corner, in May 2020.

“We gathered here because the decision that happened at the special General Conference is not acceptable,” said Karen G. Prudente of the New York Conference in a press conference after the event. She is on the event’s 17-member convening team. “We came here to discern a better way forward for The United Methodist Church.”
In addition to Prudente and Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, the NYAC was represented by Rev. Dr. Stephen Bauman, Fred Brewington, Gail Douglas-Boykin, Rev. Kristina Hansen, Pastor Dorlimar Lebrón Malavé, Jorge Lockwood, Rev. Tim Riss, and Rev. Dr. Javier Viera, dean of the Drew Theological School.

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