Address from 2019 General Conference


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Video transcript:

We are nearing the end of the final day of General Conference 2019, the special session that was called to be held in St. Louis just this week. I want to tell you how grateful I am for the prayers of the Memphis and Tennessee conferences, as your delegations and I have been here seeking to find a way forward for our United Methodist Church.

I want you to know that while we have been in St. Louis, we have been praying for you as those across the Memphis and Tennessee conferences have been facing flooding. We’re mindful that there are many who are displaced because of those floods, and want to remind you that Robert Craig is our Disaster Response Coordinator and you can find contact information for him on our conference websites.

Many of you have watched the live streaming of the special session, and you have followed the coverage – many of you, moment by moment. You have probably also followed some of our United Methodist news service outlets. But if you’re not already aware, this afternoon we passed the Traditional Plan which was passed by a significant margin, 54% roughly to 47%. That plan has been adopted and it will need to be further studied by the Judicial Council to rule on constitutionality.

As a result of the decision, some of you feel relief. Others of you are in disbelief, and some are angry. Many feel a sense of grief. My first reminder today as your chief pastor is to love one another. Some of your neighbors, some of your church members are hurting because of this decision.

It will take time for all of us to understand how these decisions will affect us at the they will affect the future of the United Methodist Church.

Likely there will be adjustments that we have to live into within the reality of our Church, but one thing is certain, the church will continue to be the church. We will continue to love the least and the last, our neighbors in our communities. We will continue to offer hope to a hurting world in every place we exist in the Tennessee and Memphis conferences and Kentucky.

Our conferences will continue to value local churches as the disciple-making center of all of our ministry. We will continue to be diverse. We will continue to be rooted in Christ, and we will express a deep love for one another.

This coming week, your church will gather for worship. Someone will teach Sunday School. Youth will gather for MYF. Other churches will reach out to those in need with food pantries and clothes closets. For some, they may need to set some time aside for grieving.

As soon as the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops meets, I’ll return to our Episcopal Area and I will begin the hard work of doing ministry with you as we discern what this decision means for the Church.

I ask you that you allow us the opportunity – before you or your church make any decisions regarding your relationship with the United Methodist Church – to be in conversation with you.

On Sunday, March the 10th at 3:00 p.m., I, along with our delegation heads, will be coming to you livestream, and you’ll have an opportunity to hear more details about what we discern is our future.

If you wish to send questions, you may do so at,

Updates will continue to be shared through our conference websites, and our task teams on the ongoing work for our New Conference that will continue.

I invite you to continue praying for the future of our denomination, for the future of the Tennessee and Memphis conferences, for the work that God has called us to do in a very specific, particular place called the Nashville Episcopal Area.

I’m deeply grateful for each of you and I thank you for your willingness to work with me in this time of transition. May God be with us.