First UM Votes No On ‘Traditional Plan’


First UM Votes No

On ‘Traditional Plan’

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – Members of Oneonta’s First United Methodist congregation tonight approved a “We Refuse” resolution that rejects the United Methodist Church’s reaffirmation of prohibitions against gay marriage and gay pastors.

The “We Refuse” resolution says the “Traditional Plan,” approved, 53 percent to 47 percent, at the UMC’s General Conference last February in St. Louis, is “incompatible with God’s all-inclusive love of and for everyone.”

The congregation will now send a written statement to the Syracuse-based Upper New York State’s annual conference and Bishop Mark J. Webb, asking him to get behind the “We Refuse” resolution.

First United will also inform the Facebook group, Upper New York for Full Inclusion (UNYFI), which formed after the February vote in reaction to the General Conference’s decision.

The pastor, Rev. Marti Swords-Horrell, was not available to discussion the vote’s outcome, but a member of the congregation who opposes the Traditional Plan, Irene Morrissey, confirmed “We Refuse” carried.

However, it could not immediately be determined how many people voted at the so-called Charge Conference, or how many members there are in the congregation at large.

“The vote for the resolution tells the United Methodist’s governing bodies, ‘We don’t approve of what you said,’” said Morrissey.  “And our vote tonight will encourage churches who don’t like the Traditional Plan, but haven’t responded yet, to respond.”

She said the Fly Creek Methodist Church is one congregation that might join Oneonta’s.  It’s pastor, the Rev. Sharon Rankins-Burd, said in a voice mail message on Tuesday, May 7: “We’re not looking at that same resolution at this time, but a group of individuals in (our) congregation drafted and signed their own letter.”

After tonight’s meeting, Pastor Swords-Hornell and other leaders of the congregation met separately to decide if further action is necessary.

For example, the author of the “We Refuse” resolution, Rev. Dr. Mark Ledbetter of the Eastern Parkway Methodist Church in Schenectady, said he had removed “United” from the church’s name to further protest the Traditional Plan.

“There’s so much confusion of what will happen in 2020,” she said.  “Bishop Webb may not do anything until 2020 when the Traditional Plan is enacted.  We just don’t know.”

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