Annual Conference 2020 to be held online

Frequently Asked Questions

MSC Way Forward FAQ

What and when is the Special Session?

The Council of Bishops has called a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be held Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops (COB).

What is the Commission on a Way Forward?

The Commission on a Way Forward was created in 2016 at the General Conference by the COB to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality. They proposed three plans in their final report to be voted upon at the Special Session.

What are the Three Plans?

  • One Church Plan: This plan would remove restrictive language from the Book of Discipline and give conferences, churches and pastors the flexibility to “uniquely reach their missional context in relation to human sexuality without changing the connectional nature of The UMC."
  • Traditionalist Plan: This plan would affirm the current language about homosexuality in the Book of Discipline and seek to strengthen enforcement for violations of church law.
  • Connectional Conference Plan: This plan would create three connectional conferences based on theology or perspective, each having clearly defined values (accountability, contextualization and justice). The three connectional conferences would function throughout the worldwide church and the five existing U.S. jurisdictions would be abolished. This plan would require multiple amendments to the denomination’s constitution.

What has the Council of Bishops recommended?

The United Methodist COB has recommended the One Church Plan for consideration at the 2019 called session. Per a statement released on May 4, 2018, the COB said the One Church Plan “encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions.” The Council believes it is the best plan for a “Way Forward” for The UMC on human sexuality and maintaining unity.

Who else has recommended the One Church Plan?

The Western Jurisdiction Mission Cabinet, composed of the College of Bishops and the directors of connectional ministry, released a statement Sept. 10, 2018 endorsing the One Church Plan. In the release, the WJ Mission Cabinet said, “We believe that this plan has the best potential to maximize the presence of United Methodist witness, allow for contextual differentiation, and balance an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with as much unity as possible.” The One Church Plan has been endorsed by your Mountain Sky Conference (MSC) Cabinet and General Conference delegation for reasons consistent with the Western Jurisdiction Mission Cabinet’s position.

Who gets to vote?

Although we are now the MSC, this special session is an extension of the 2016 General Conference. Therefore, the delegates who will vote on our behalf were elected by each legacy conference. There will be six delegates (three clergy and three laity) from the Rocky Mountain Legacy Conference, and two delegates (one clergy and one laity) from Yellowstone Legacy Conference. The first clergy and laity alternate for each delegation will also attend. If you have questions for our delegates, you may contact them through an online form online.

How will the decision in February affect the Mountain Sky Conference?

If the One Church Plan is approved by the delegates, the MSC will continue its mission of creating and living into an inclusive and diverse beloved community as we continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ. If the Traditionalist Plan is approved, conference leadership will determine a structure and organizational plan that allows us to live into our unique conference mission. In response to either of these plans, provisions and processes will be determined for congregations to make gracious exits to enable them to move forward in their respective mission fields. If the Connectional Conference Plan is approved, conference leadership would also address a new infrastructure for the conference and local church affinities and alignments with respective theologies/organizational structures.

Where can I find more information about the Commission on a Way Forward and the 2019 conference?

You can find more information about the General Conference of The United Methodist Church online at or on the Mountain Sky Conference website, Mountain Sky on the Way Forward.