The 2019 Special Session of General Conference was a nightmare. Doing my best Agatha Harkness impression from WandaVision, I need to take you back there to see one important moment to remember how we got here.
After the Traditional Plan passed there was one more petition that had to be dealt with. It was a petition with a minority report presented by Rev. Beth Ann Cook. The purpose of the petition was to provide a path for churches to leave the denomination if they disagree with the outcome of the 2019 General Conference. The petition created a new paragraph 2553 that allows churches to leave provided that they pay certain expenses. It is, to be sure, an expensive way to exit the denomination. But it works. And it's fair.
I know it's fair, because that's what Rev. Cook said in her presentation at the 11:20 mark. "The intended process is literally how I would want to be treated if I were the one hurting because of [the outcome]." Although as a supporter of the One Church Plan I believed that nobody needed to leave the denomination, we had finally reached a point where it was clear this was inevitable. So I spoke in favor. I said, "Traditionalists made the original exit plan, traditionalists made the minority report, traditionalists passed their plan; this is their exit."
Now back to 2021.
What I said two years ago is still true.
Progressives and Centrists are not leaving. U.S. Traditionalists, please know that I and many others still want you to stay. I still believe that all people should be able to be part of this denomination. But if you have to leave you can - and you don't need the Protocol to do it. You passed your own exit plan.
Traditionalists may say they can't leave under this provision because they don't disagree with the outcome of General Conference. However, the new paragraph also says a church may leave, "...because of the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues..." Nearly every annual conference in the U.S. has at least one pastor who could be charged today and hasn't been, either because of their gender or sexual identity or because of a wedding they have officiated. No church that attempts to leave under this paragraph would be stopped.
As I've already written, nobody wants this separation dragged out. It would be better for everyone if the Protocol and Christmas Covenant could be voted on this year - and it would have been even better if they could have been voted on last year. But it's not reasonably possible, and they weren't voted on last year. We are where we are. So do what you need to do. After all, it's only what you asked of us.