Your Alaska General Conference Delegation has been hard at work throughout these winter months. We have been listening to voices of those outside of Alaska and working with others who have put much effort into legislation already submitted to General Conference. We have been discussing what we might offer to help our church move beyond the conflicts that have divided us.
Therefore, along with a couple writing partners, our entire delegation has submitted to General Conference “THE ALASKA OMNIBUS PROPOSAL” WHICH YOU CAN FIND HERE.
This is our attempt to offer a pathway so all of our churches — in the United States, around the globe, liberal, conservative, and centrist — can see a future for their congregation, for their conference, and for the larger church.
Connected to the 66 pages of legislation is a three-page introduction which explains much of what we are thinking and hoping and how, while almost all of the text of the legislation is borrowed from others, it is newly put together into one document. It tries to honor the work of others in a package that can “get enough votes.”
While faithful people have provided us with legislation such as “The Christmas Covenant” and “The Protocol,” we have been concerned that no one piece of legislation will receive enough votes to pass at the postponed 2020 General Conference, leaving our churches without a path out of this wilderness. And, if one of them were to pass, we are concerned that General Conference would still be defined by “winners” and “losers,” harming the witness of The United Methodist Church.
After listening to supporters of “The Christmas Covenant” legislation, we ensured that the regionalization of that legislation would be front and center to maintain unity while keeping geographically-centered issues from defining the whole denomination. However, to help with passage of the legislation, we did not include any items that would require a constitutional amendment.
We included the formation of a Regional Conference in North America from the Connectional Table Plan to be consistent in regionalization.
We listened to proponents of The Protocol and included a pathway out of the United Methodist Church for those seeking a more Traditionalist Methodist expression.
We were in dialogue with Wespath, which manages the pensions of United Methodist clergy, knowing that we need to continue our care of retirement benefits for the future church.
With humility we recognize that is almost entirely the work of others. While we know it is not perfect, and potentially falls short of what other plans and petitions hoped to achieve, we pray that it accomplishes “enough” so that it can pass. And we pray that, if it passes, almost all churches in our denomination can see how they can live into the future they believe God has planned for them.
We encourage you to read the introduction and the legislation.
At this point, it is our offering to our church and we hope to be in dialogue about it.
We offer it with a couple of caveats:
- We know that there are a lot of moving pieces to General Conference and there may be bigger changes coming than we realize, changes that will bring new paths forward.
- We know that we are just a small conference with just a couple of votes at General Conference. We’ll need help from others to have this enter the General Conference conversation, to be perfected, and to pass.
We hope it does enough to move us forward.
Jim Doepken, Clergy Delegate to General Conference