The Council of Bishops hereby issues a call for a Special Session of the General Conference per Division Two – Section II – Article II of The Constitution of The United Methodist Church (¶14 of The Book of Discipline (2016).
The Special Session of the General Conference will be held May 8, 2021 and shall be convened using virtual internet connections.
This call is issued to gain a quorum in order to:
a. Suspend the rules (2/3 vote) to allow for the utilization of paper ballots in acting upon twelve (12) disciplinary amendments to be effective upon the announcement of the results of the balloting on Tuesday, July 13.
b. To explain the voting procedures and deadlines for submitting paper ballots related to the matters stated within the call.
c. To adjourn the Special Session with the results of the balloting announced on Tuesday, July 13.
In accordance with ¶511.4.d., to “assure full participation of all General Conference delegates,” all decisions will be limited to approval of the use of paper ballots and confined to the designated twelve (12) amendments to the Book of Discipline.
The special session of the General Conference shall be limited to acting upon the following item needed to authorize administrative functions for the continuation of the mission and ministry of the Church during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- To suspend the rules by a two-thirds vote that would interfere with allowing the following twelve (12) disciplinary matters to be moved, seconded, and then without debate be voted upon using a mailed ballot (deletions are indicated by strike-through/new language is indicated by underlining), the results of such votes to be effective upon announcement on July 13, 2021: [the full text of the letter and the proposed changes are here.]
Following this matter, the Special Session will adjourn to allow delegates to vote on the foregoing twelve (12) disciplinary matters via mailed ballots. All ballots will be required to be post-marked by June 21, 2021, and the results of the vote on the twelve (12) disciplinary matters will be announced by the Commission on the General Conference on or before July 13, 2021.
Based on the Judicial Council’s canons of interpretation, ¶ 14, Article II of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline should be interpreted to mean that the delegates for a special session in 2021 would be those persons elected by the annual conferences as delegates to the 2020 General Conference. Likewise, the phrase “or their lawful successors” in ¶14 should be construed to mean that persons elected for the postponed 2020 General Conference are the delegates to a special session of the General Conference in 2021.
The Secretary of the General Conference will be in communication with annual conference secretaries regarding delegate information. The Commission on the General Conference and the Business Manager of the General Conference will develop and forward additional information regarding the logistics of the special session of General Conference at the appropriate time. The Council of Bishops encourages the entire church to continue in deep, unceasing prayer for the Church and the world in this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic.