Final General Conference Update-Feb. 26, 2019

An Update for the events of Feb. 26 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

The final night in St. Louis,

Today was a very difficult day. There was a great deal of pain and anxiety that was felt by everyone. Some difficult choices were before the General Conference.

So, what happened?

The One Church Plan was presented as the minority report before the General Conference. There was a motion made to substitute the Traditional Plan legislation with the One Church Plan legislation. The General Conference did not approve the motion 54.56%-45.44%.

The General Conference then took up legislation regarding the Traditional Plan. After much passionate debate, the General Conference approved the Traditional Plan 53.28%-46.72%.

What this means is that the current language in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality is unchanged. It also means there will be some stronger measures to hold bishops and denominational leaders accountable who refuse to follow the Book of Discipline.

In the last few minutes of General Conference, a plan for disaffiliation was approved. This means a “gracious exit” would be provided for churches and/or clergy who desire to leave the The United Methodist Church if they could not accept the outcome of General Conference.

It also important to know that several pieces of the Traditional Plan legislation and the plan for disaffiliation were deemed unconstitutional prior to the General Conference vote. Measures were taken to perfect these two pieces of legislation, but they will be reviewed by the Judicial Council.

As you can imagine, there were mixed reactions to the days events. There were multiple protests but I also witnessed many acts of kindness and compassion.

It was a day when that my heart was heavy. It was very difficult to see so many in pain. The brokenness of our church was apparent.

This Sunday I’ll be speaking more about General Conference.

Please continue to be in prayer for our church.

General Conference Update for Monday, Feb. 25

An Update for the events of Feb. 25 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

Hello from chilly Missouri,

Today was a day of committee work. There were several pieces of legislation that were addressed. Here’s a round up of today’s work:

  1. The Legislative Committee approved the Traditionalist Plan by 56.22% to 43.78%

2.   The Legislative Committee did not approve the One Church Plan 53.04%-46-96%

3.   The Connectional Conference Plan and the Simple Plan did not receive the support of the Legislative Committee.

4. Two plans for disaffiliation were approved. This has to do with churches who may desire to leave the denomination regardless of the outcome of General Conference.

So, what does this mean?

The Traditional Plan will come before the plenary session of the General Conference tomorrow. There are some constitutional amendments the Judicial Council is considering that could impact the Traditional Plan. We should know something in the morning.

While the One Church Plan was not approved, it can still be presented as a “minority report.” This means it can come before the plenary session of General Conference tomorrow providing it gets enough support.

It’s possible both disaffiliation plans could be merged into one plan.

As you can imagine, today was a day of highs and lows. Strong emotions surround all of these issues. Throughout all of this, I have felt your love and support.

Tomorrow is the final day of General Conference. Please continue to be in prayer.

General Conference Update for Feb. 24, 2019

An Update for the events of Feb. 24 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

Good evening from St. Louis,

The first day of the Called General Conference began with a wonderful worship service. It reflected the global nature of The United Methodist Church as we heard different languages used to express the glory of God.

The rest of the morning was spent with some house-keeping matters to organize our proceedings of the day. As the afternoon got underway, our first matter was to vote on pieces of legislation that would be considered “high priority.” There were multiple pieces that were considered. These are the top results:

The results I will focus on are where the two of the three plans lined up. The Traditional Plan came in with 459 votes (55.57%) and the One Church Plan came in with 403 votes (48.67%).

What this means is that the Traditional Plan will be the first plan to be considered by the General Conference on Monday morning. Please keep in mind the One Church Plan or another plan may also be considered, depending on the decision of the General Conference.

Please continue to pray

Bob Cooper

GC Update Feb. 23, 2019

Hello from St Louis!

The first day of the Called General Conference is complete. The day was spent in worship, prayer, and fasting. Holy Communion was celebrated at the conclusion of the day.

There were a few protests outside of the facility, but overall things went smoothly. Tomorrow we will be getting into some of the legislative matters. Please see upcoming schedule for the remainder of General Conference:

General Conference Links of Interest

Here are some links you might find of interest over the next few days during the UMC General Conference

The Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports from the general agencies/commissions and study committees, information for delegates, and codes of conduct for the 2019 General Conference.
The Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) is produced daily during the General Conference sessions, and contains news and features as well as the verbatim transcript of the conference proceedings and calendar items.
It can be read online here

The General Conference will be live streamed and can be viewed by clicking here

The WCA will have a video recap each morning at 8am CT (9am ET). That can be viewed on their FB page by clicking here

The UMC Official GC page with links to official latest news and other items of interest can be found by clicking here

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone”

Like so many of you, my mind has been dwelling on the upcoming General Conference. There is a great deal of commentary and conjecture as to what may or may not happen and its impact on The United Methodist Church. There’s a lot being said as to what that future could look like. Accusations are flying back and forth, rumors abound, and I find myself becoming anxious.

I find that the anxiety I’m feeling comes because I’m not listening as closely as I should to others and to the Holy Spirit. It takes great effort to listen these days. There’s a lot being said but very little being heard. I find that I need to center myself and find the solid ground in the midst of all the noise.

Recently Philippians 4:4-7 has been coming to mind:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul reminds us to rejoice and to practice gentleness. We are told the Lord is near and to not worry. How is this possible? Because our hearts and minds are being guarded by a peace that is greater than we can understand. I find all this encouraging and convicting, especially the part about being gentle with one another.

It’s not easy to be gentle. In fact, it’s easier to go in the other direction. We see this hurtful pattern modeled in how we speak to each other and how we disagree with one another. This is especially true with social media.

So why is it important to practice gentleness?

In a recent Facebook post, Rev. Shane Bishop, a United Methodist pastor from Fairview Heights, IL, shared some interesting thoughts on gentleness:

“To be gentle means you could choose to do harm but you choose not to do so.  A mouse is meek, not gentle.  My daughter’s pit bull is gentle.  Gentleness comes from a position of strength, not weakness.

When we choose not to return evil for evil, hate for hate and insult for insult, we choose a life of gentleness.  When we choose not to throw gasoline on a fiery thread, we choose gentleness. When we are mature enough to realize people of sound mind, good intelligence and deep faith may disagree with us on important things, we choose a life of gentleness.

By choosing gentleness, we honor God, respect people and preserve our Christian witness.

There is nothing wrong, and a lot right, with standing for important things.  Just do so with gentleness.”

To live a Spirit-filled life is to walk a path of gentleness. It means to intentionally practice a way of life which is in contrast with our culture. We choose not to injure or tear down. We choose to love and respect others, especially those with whom we may disagree.

As General Conference approaches, let us seek to be gentle with one another.

Statement on Mission Charlottesville

We have become aware that erroneous information is being distributed asserting that the Wesleyan Covenant Association and/or the Virginia WCA are planting and/or providing financing for the planting of a new church in Charlottesville, Va.  Neither of these statements is true.  On December 2, Mission Charlottesville held its first service. The leadership of Mission Charlottesville has completed the process for the church to be a member of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.  Membership in the Wesleyan Covenant Association is open to any church that is willing to affirm the WCA’s statement of biblical authority, statement of beliefs and statement of moral principles.  Churches do not have to be United Methodist to be members of the WCA.  Neither the WCA nor the Virginia WCA has had any role in the planting of Mission Charlottesville.  Neither the WCA nor the Virginia WCA has provided any financial resources to Mission Charlottesville in connection with its activities or launch as a church.

Keith Boyette, President, Wesleyan Covenant Association
Bob Cooper, President, Virginia WCA

Reflections on the Global Legislative Assembly and the Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association

Reflections on the Global Legislative Assembly

and the

Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association

On Friday, November 2, I had the opportunity to attend the Global Legislative Assembly of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as a delegate. The next day, Saturday, November 3, I also attended the Global Gathering. Both events were held at Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, GA

If you’re interested in learning more about the results of the Global Legislative Assembly, please click here 

I’d like to share about my experience for those few days in Marietta. I must admit I was more than a little anxious. Exactly how would these preceding go? Would there be honest and open conversation about the legislation we were asked to consider?

If you’re like me, you attend a lot of meetings. It’s not hard to feel the anxiety and apprehension in many United Methodist circles. At times it feels like we are passengers on the Titanic who have resigned themselves to the absolute certainty of hitting an iceberg at 2019 Called General Conference. There is little talk of resurrection and hope. It’s mostly about survival.

In our time together in Marietta, there was a great conversation about the future of the church. There was representation from every part of our connection. Bishops were present, theologians were in our midst, and faithful laity and clergy has made the journey to bear witness of their hope that is grounded in Jesus Christ. There was diversity and unity. We were encouraged and challenged.

We discussed what we believed and how to best to live that out. There was honest dialogue of what happens after General Conference 2019 and the necessity of a new structure if needed.

But here’s something else I noticed during those two days: there was hope. Hope for a future that is grace-filled and Spirit-empowered. Hope to reclaim and rediscover a vital Wesleyan pneumatology. Hope for a renewal of the people called Methodist.

I left those two days wondering “why aren’t we having these types of conversations within The United Methodist Church?” The primary concern was not institutional survival. It was about being empowered by and living unashamedly the faith that is entrusted to us. What I saw were people who were concerned about the church they love deeply and a longing for the Holy Spirit to move in a powerful way.

One last thing I’d like to share. We began and ended our time literally on our knees. It was the type of prayer that is passionate with an utter dependence on God. We were called to repent, to seek to be more loving, more compassionate.

I left that gathering hopeful because I was reminded that the Holy Spirit is not done with the people called Methodists.

Bob Cooper (President, VaWCA)

News from the Recent Global Legislative Assembly 2018

On November 2, 2018, the Global Legislative Assembly of the Wesleyan Covenant Association met in Marietta, Ga for the Inaugural Meeting. Delegates from around the world gathered for this meeting and during the day, they drafted and passed several key documents.

This documents may be read by clicking on the links below.

A Statement by the WCA Council

Fundamental Features and Principles of a New Methodist Denomination

Next Steps Resolution 2018

Radical Hospitality and Genuine Community

Resolution Concerning General Conference

Minutes of the Global Legislative Assembly 2018

The Virginia WCA was well represented at the Global Legislative Assembly by four delegates, Rev. David Ford, Becky Livermon, Michelle Engle, Rev. Bob Cooper,

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