Warm greetings in Christ! You are soon to make history! As an elected delegate from our Virginia Annual Conference, you will be one of a symphony of voices leading United Methodism to be where Jesus is. I have been and will continue to pray fervently for you. Charles Wesley’s prayer is a great one for such a time as this: ‘Thee, only Thee, resolved to know in all I think, or speak, or do.’
By now you know the Plans, their pro’s and con’s, and have been acquainting yourself with the petitions. Many of us have been thinking about the courses of action now before General Conference long before they were ever codified plans. Still, after all the discussion, I believe among the Plans, the Modified Traditional Plan which maintains our current Book of Discipline’s position regarding human sexuality is the one most faithful.
Consider these reasons: (1) it remains in harmony with three thousand years of consistent,
Jewish-Christian teaching, commentary and practice on sexuality (2) it is in concert with the
global, ecumenical consensus of many denominations including the largest Christian bodies, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (3) it is faithful to Holy Scripture (while there are texts asserting marriage between a man and a woman, there is no biblical text affirming either homosexual marriage or homosexual practice).
Regardless, you will soon vote to which petitions and Plan you give highest priority. I ask you
prayerfully to consider voting for the best ‘gracious exit’ plan which includes a just but fair
financial assessment to exiting churches. At our last annual conference in June 2018, our
resolution on a ‘gracious exit’ was ‘tabled’. A member of the delegation stopped me in the
hallway and told me of the sympathy across the church for a ‘gracious exit’ plan. Indeed, it
would not be in keeping with Christian charity to constrain persons and churches – whether
traditional or progressive - and hold them captive against their consciences and belief to
Permit me one final word. Please do not come home till you have taken decisive action. If the General Conference comes to a log jam – again – as some feel it may, leaving the church in a muddle is not leadership. Please consider the time has now come to form a commission to work out a plan of amicable separation. Heartrending as it is, separation is not an unpardonable sin.
In fact, separation may not be a sin at all. There is biblically and historically sanctioned
separation which is not schism! Read again John Wesley’s sermon ‘On Schism’:
Thank you again for your service to our church! I will continue to pray for you, the delegation, and the General Conference. May God be glorified in your work!
Yours faithfully in Christ,
H. O. ‘Tom’ Thomas