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United Methodist will postpone decision on split until 2021 conference

The debate over whether the United Methodist Church will divide over sexuality issues has been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak. The church has rescheduled its General Conference for Aug. 29 to Sept. 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, according to Religion News Service.

It also is looking into ways to use technology to ensure delegates can participate in the quadrennial meeting, according to the Commission on the General Conference. The General Conference — during which delegates from across the globe are expected to discuss a proposal to split the denomination over the inclusion of its LGBTQ members — had been set for earlier this month in Minneapolis. It was postponed in March when the convention center announced it was restricting events at the venue to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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“We’re grateful that we were able to secure new dates while keeping the site of General Conference in Minneapolis,” commission chair Kim Simpson said in a written statement. “Nearly seven years of pre-planning and preparations by the host team have gone into this event,”.

A group of young delegates had circulated a petition asking the commission to reconsider rescheduling the meeting at the start of the academic year. The commission “expressed regret” in a statement that it was unable to accommodate that request without losing a substantial amount of money, finding a new meeting location or pushing the event to 2022. It also agreed to gather a group, including young delegates, to explore online voting and recommend other possibilities to the commission.

“Including young adults in the General Conference is always an important consideration. We affirm that their voices need to be heard,” Simpson said.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice