A response to the Special Session of General Conference 2019
Dear Garden Street Church Family,
We have been talking about the 2019 Special Session of General Conference for some
time now. The Special General Conference ended on Tuesday with the vote to pass the
Traditional Plan which supports the notion that Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian
teaching. This plan was declared unconstitutional by the majority of the Church’s Judicial
Council, yet, it passed anyway.
The traditional plan retains the prohibitive and restrictive language against the LGBTQIA
community, and it makes it okay to bring charges against clergy who violate these prohibitions.
It also forbids the ordination of any LGBTQIA person called to ministry within the United
Methodist Church. The General Conference made a drastic unjust move in this decision and I
ask you to not lose sight of who we are at Garden Street and how God is calling us to serve.
In the days ahead, Bishops and other leaders of the Western Jurisdiction will meet to
discuss all that happened at general conference and determine a plan of action. At this time, I
have no specific details to share with you from our conference leadership.
Two thirds of the United States delegates voted against the traditional plan. However, we
are a global church with 43% of the voting delegates coming from outside the United States.
As your pastor, my heart is breaking for our LGBTQIA friends. We in the Pacific
Northwest have been living the “One Church Plan” for more than 20 years now. We have
traditionalists, moderates and progressives doing good ministry separately and together and that
is not something we ever want to change.
I realize you want to know what all this means for us at Garden Street. We at Garden
Street will continue to be who we are and adhere to the values of including EVERYONE. We
join with many in the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC serving as a beacon of hope for
LGTBQIA people longing to be included and welcomed into the church of Jesus Christ.
We at Garden Street are still imagining all the possibilities God is calling us to live out as
a congregation and so we will keep doing what we are doing. We will continue to love our
neighbors and work to feed the hungry. We will continue to especially welcome LGBTQIA
friends into our community. We will continue to work with Interfaith Coalition and do
everything we can to be the best we can be in building the kingdom of God right here in
I love you Garden Street UMC and we are going to be okay. I’m deeply honored and
blessed to serve with you. Our ministry in this Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist
Church is more important than ever in impacting the future of our denomination. I share with
you the statement made from our Western Jurisdiction Leadership to the Special General
At the 2019 Special Called Session of the General Conference, Rev. Donna Pritchard, chair of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team made this statement:
We have long appreciated the richness of the global diversity of our United Methodist
Church and have embraced opportunities to join with you all in the work of making disciples for
the transformation of the world.
We also understand the purpose of the Church to be in mission and ministry.
Consequently, we in the West have been functioning for years as One Church committed to full
inclusion, seeking to be a home for all God’s people.
Today we acknowledge the fracture of this body, yet we worship a God who tells us that
the body of Christ has many parts, all equally valued. Rooted in Wesleyan tradition, grounded in
Scripture and committed to mission and ministry, the Western Jurisdiction intends to continue to
be one church, fully inclusive and open to all God’s children, across the theological and social
We know from experience we are stronger when we live together as progressives,
traditionalists, and centrists in our Church. Many times during this Conference we have sung or
prayed or blessed each other with the reminder that we need each other.
We also know there are others who feel the same way today, so we invite you to be in
dialogue with us as we move forward together into a future with hope.
May God continue to bless us for the sake of the world. Thank you.
Garden Street Church Leadership response to General Conference
The Administrative Church Council met recently to discuss and re-affirm our defiance of the exclusionary language that for now will remain part of the book of discipline. Specifically, we agree to defy the restrictions on gay marriage and gay clergy as well as the assertion that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. We stand by our statement of inclusion and with the full support of our District and Jurisdictional leaders, we will not change who we are or what we stand for. We are a family. Our LGBTQ+ siblings are of sacred worth and are beloved Children of God. We absolutely reject institutional oppression and discrimination. In this, we place our trust, not in the global Church, but in God, whose love is big enough for us all. Our work is not done. We are not done. Our Hearts are Open, Our Minds are Open and our Doors are Open.”