April 17, 2019
Dear Belmont family,
News about our ongoing response to February's Special Session of General Conference might strike us as unpleasant Holy Week news. However, let us remember that Holy Week includes Jesus on trial before a religious court. Church politics often reveals differing understandings of God. Let this update remind us of our baptismal promise to follow Jesus as Lord and resist injustice everywhere.    
In February, the General Conference voted in more restrictive rules with regard to inclusion. In resistance to this, we stand committed to living out our Welcoming Statement. On March 31, our Administrative Board adopted an Engagement Plan to weigh options, build coalitions, bear witness to and work for full inclusion. Just as one might take various routes to the airport, turning right or left from the church, there are factors and forces that will guide Belmont's actions, but not alter our destination or resolve.    
The Traditional Plan, backed by the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), secured 53 percent of the global vote. Most observers estimate that two thirds of US delegates voted against it. However, after winning the political battle, the WCA may still leave the UMC. The WCA president declared, "We have developed a plan ..whether within the UM Church or in a new Methodist denomination should that be necessary..." The Methodist landscape may change. The WCA may leave if the Traditional Plan is ruled unconstitutional, when the Judicial Council meets on April 26. The bar for a UMC constitutional change is very high. The Judicial Council will also review the Taylor Disaffiliation Plan. If the Taylor Disaffiliation plan is upheld, then UMC churches may leave the denomination with their local church property. If a church leaves or is forced out of the denomination, the church must consider where it will go. Belmont holds deep historical and missional connections to our denomination.

Beyond these Judicial Council rulings, there are other events that impact our engagement:
May 13 is the deadline to submit resolutions to the Tennessee Annual Conference.
May 17-18, conference held in Minneapolis called Our Movement Forward is a summit to discuss the future of The United Methodist Church, centered on persons of color, queer, and transgender voices.
June 12-14, the Tennessee Annual Conference will elect delegates for General Conference 2020.
September 25-27, The Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute (largest UMC in USA) will gather centrists and progressives to ponder the best way forward for the UMC.
Jan 1, 2020, is the date any constitutional disciplinary changes would go into effect.
May 2020 is our next General Conference.
You can keep up with Methodist news at  umnews.org. There is much happening in response to GC 2019.
Please know that each week we welcome new people drawn by our inclusive stand. It is our hour to shine Christian equality, hope, and love. Dr. King wrote, "Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people willing to be co-workers with God." Let us be co-workers with God, offering Jesus' radical love and acceptance to our neighbors with a tireless resolve!
Grace and Peace,
Paul Purdue
Senior Pastor