Feeds:
Posts

Archive for the ‘Judicial Council’ Category

The following commentary is by Riley B. Case, associate executive director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Riley B. Case

Dr. Case served for many years as a pastor and district superintendent in the UMC’s North Indiana Conference (now the Indiana Conference).

He is the author of Evangelical and Methodist: A Popular History (Abingdon Press) and has served as a delegate to five UM General Conferences.

This opinion pieced was originally published in a slightly longer form in the Confessing Movement’s e-publication, “Happenings Around the Church.”

Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

-
United Methodists are in the news again — not because of what UMs are doing in flood-ravaged areas, or for the numbers of mission teams serving in various places, or for spectacular evangelistic efforts, but for internal conflicts over issues related to marriage and homosexuality.

Major articles have appeared in TIME magazine, the Boston Globe, and USA Today. This is because of the Amy DeLong church trial in the Wisconsin Annual Conference, and because hundreds of United Methodist clergy have pledged to defy church law and perform homosexual unions.

Not surprisingly, most articles in the secular press have given wrong impressions.

-

A vocal minority

The secular media makes it sound as though there is strong support for changing the church’s historic stand that supports celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. According to several reports, there is “growing pressure” for the United Methodist Church to join other mainline churches in ordaining sexually active homosexuals; clergy are willing to defy church law; a major battle is looming at the 2012 General Conference, etc.

The truth is quite different. Despite the publicity, despite the equivocating on the part of the bishops, despite manipulated trials, despite statements from retired bishops and seminary faculty and boards and agencies, The United Methodist Church is not about to change its biblical stance. Overwhelming numbers of church members would oppose it. We need to assure our troubled church members that this is so.

-

Nearly 40 years of fighting

In speaking of General Conference 2012, the secular media suggest that the General Conference (the only body in the UMC that can change the Book of Discipline) will “settle” the issue of homosexuality for United Methodists. This is the same mantra touted in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Let’s face reality: whatever happens on this issue at next year’s General Conference, there will not be peace in the denomination. There will be talk about civility, but civility will not take place. There will be talk about a compromise that will make everyone happy, but no conceivable compromise will make everyone happy. There will be talk about unity around “core values,” but we seem not to agree what those core values might be.

UM bishops stand in support of homosexual protesters
at the 2000 General Conference (UMNS photo)

Does anyone see a hopeful future for United Methodism over this issue?

It needs to be pointed out — and written boldly — that it is not evangelicals who are creating controversy, disunity, and lack of civility in the church. It is not evangelicals who are talking about demonstrations, undermining the Discipline, pledging themselves to ecclesiastical disobedience, and going to extraordinary lengths to obstruct justice. It is not evangelicals who are breaking covenant and making a mockery of church law.

Nor is it evangelicals at the General Conference who break chalices and cover the altar with black and disrupt the conference with demonstrations and rants from bishops.

What are evangelicals seeking? Simply this: Since the United Methodist Church has officially approved and (supposedly) operates with written doctrines, social principles, and covenant relationships, we want those in the church to honor and submit to these doctrines and principles and relationships.

-

A challenge to the connection

Some secular news accounts have given a wrong impression when they speak of those pledging to perform same-sex unions as primarily defying “church authorities” — as if it is the “authorities” (whoever they are) who are the block to loosening standards in regard to sexuality.

From the UM
Book of Discipline

¶161F Human Sexuality — We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift.

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children.

All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults.

We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self.

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

¶304.3 Regarding Clergy — While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world.

Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

The defiance is more serious that simply “defying authorities.” What is being defied and undermined is the United Methodist connection itself, including covenant relationships, ordination vows, and our commitment to one another as United Methodists.

The progressive strategy, at least on the part of some, is to wage civil war. This war is not against some outside imposed authority being foisted upon them, but against the very church to which these persons vowed faithfulness.

In other words, some in our connection desire to overturn the understandings, the promises, the ordination vows, and the Discipline that have made us who we are as United Methodists and replace them with something different — all in the name of some higher good. The higher good is variously stated: conscience, justice, inclusivity — all of which are defined not by Scripture, tradition, and reason, or by our vows, doctrine, and heritage, but by progressive preferences.

At the trial of Jimmy Creech some years ago, the defendant didn’t offer a defense, or even a plea of innocent or guilty. Rather, he urged the jury to make a prophetic judgment — namely that it is not the practice of homosexuality that is incompatible with Christian teaching (as Methodist doctrine states), but the prohibition against the practice of homosexuality that is incompatible with Christian teaching. In other words, bring the whole system down by judicial decree.

Or by any means. Obfuscate. Overload the system to make it inoperative (if 900 UM clergy perform same-sex unions, the system will blow all circuits and simply cease to function). Challenge all language so that words such as “practicing,” “self-avowed,” “heresy,” “status,” “celibacy,” “faithfulness” must be defined in such a legalistic way that they are inoperative.

Our covenant relationships were never meant to be business contracts that need 10 pages of legal language to make them operative. Our covenant together is based on relationships and relationship language is based on trust. At the present time, trust is in short supply.

So there is a problem — a serious problem. Numbers of United Methodists, both clergy and lay, feel like aliens in their own denomination. How can we exist in a denomination when some seek to undermine the core values that make us United Methodists and when the covenant relationships we speak of seem to mean nothing?

-
Where are the bishops?

In our system of church government, we have an executive branch (the bishops). We need to hear from that executive branch — and it needs to be something more than “Let’s stay at the table” or “We feel your pain” or “Let’s wait until the next General Conference.”

Even bishops who do not support the teachings of the Book of Discipline in regard to human sexuality (which itself raises questions about how sincere they were when they took their vows*) must realize that if the present strategy of ecclesiastical disobedience and intentional obfuscation continues, the whole system could come crashing down. To continue down the present road without intervention cannot be good for United Methodism.

The bishops seem quite capable of strong action when they want to act. They were effective in blocking the election of judicial council members in 2008 who voted in favor of Judicial Council Decision 1032. There have been numbers of instances where bishops (and cabinets and conferences) have taken care of moral problems and loyalty problems without having to hold trials and without public fanfare.

In 1844 the Methodist Episcopal Church — one of our predecessor denominations — was being rent apart by attitudes toward slavery. The bishops at the time could not work through their own conflicting attitudes about slavery, or, perhaps more accurately, what the church should be doing about a stated position of the Discipline which was being undermined and defied by a part of the church.

In what must be considered as one of the greatest historical “cop-outs” in the history of the church, the bishops encouraged the General Conference to “table” any action for four more years.

But the church had been tabling the issue far too long. In 1845, the denomination divided.

Let’s pray that history will not repeat itself.

    *Each newly elected United Methodist bishop is asked, “Will you guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church against all that is contrary to God’s Word?”
Related posts
Outcome of DeLong trial likely to exacerbate disunity of UMC
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
A word from Mr. Wesley: Holiness in singleness
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Pro-homosexuality foundation pours millions into Catholic and mainline Protestant dissident groups
Breaking the covenant: Why aren’t ‘Reconciling’ churches being held to account?
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
In embracing homosexual marriage, Foundry UMC rejects UM boundaries, breaks with 2 millennia of church teaching
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’

Related information
UM clergy vow to wed homosexual couples | Sam Hodges, UM Reporter (July 15, 2011)
Lesbian elder’s penalty takes different path | Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service (June 24, 2011)
Eros defended or eros defiled — What do Wesley and the Bible say? | Ben Witherington, The Bible and Culture (Patheos.com) (Feb. 14, 2011)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality (ordering details) | Maxie Dunnam and H. Newton Malony, ed. (Abingdon Press, 2003)
Anyone who works under the authority or auspices of the Church must be held to the highest standards of behavior, free of misconduct in any form | UMSexualEthics.org
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
UM Judicial Council backs clergy dismissal over affair | Linda Bloom, UMNS (April 27, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
Slavery, homosexuality, and not being of one mind | Riley B. Case, via The Sundry Times (July 1, 2008)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

Read Full Post »

The following commentary, about a recent decision by the United Methodist Judicial Council, is by blogger and church planter David Fischler. David writes frequently on topics related to mainline Protestantism at his blog, The Reformed Pastor.

David Fischler

A New Jersey native, David was born of Jewish parents and became a Christian in college after reading the Bible for the first time. He served as a United Methodist pastor for nine years.

David holds degrees from Rutgers University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, N.C.). He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Trinity School for Ministry near Pittsburgh.

This opinion piece first appeared in a slightly different form at The Reformed Pastor. Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com — Ed.

-

On April 29, the United Methodist Judicial Council struck down a policy passed last year by the New York Annual Conference that would have permitted a male pastor to get married to another man or a female pastor to marry a woman.

Policy Concerning Marriage
of All Clergy and
Article of Religion XXI

WHEREAS, the Articles of Religion take precedence over all other sections of the Book of Discipline outside the Constitution, we believe that any Disciplinary provision denying marriage to some clergy is unconstitutional and contrary to the Articles of Religion and the first Restrictive Rule (see ¶17); and,

WHEREAS, interpretation of scriptures that relate to issues outside the Articles of Religion, the Confession of Faith, and John Wesley’s Notes and Sermons does not rise to the level of doctrine (see ¶102, pp. 58-59); and,

WHEREAS, same-sex marriage is legally permitted in the state of Connecticut; and,

WHEREAS, same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions are legally recognized by state agencies in New York;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) adopts a policy effective January 1, 2011 that all clergy in the NYAC may be legally married at their own discretion, as permitted by ¶103 of the Articles of Religion. We direct that all Conference Boards and agencies conduct their business consistent with this policy; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, given that our policy is consistent with ¶103, which states, “Therefore it is lawful for [the ministers of Christ] to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness,” but it is in conflict with ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), which bar clergy from any form of marriage other than heterosexual marriage and bar them from self-avowed practicing homosexuality, even in the context of marriage, the NYAC requests a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council (see ¶2601.1 and ¶2610.2j) as follows:

Is our policy valid in light of the apparent alteration and change of ¶103 of the Articles of Religion by General Conference when they established the provisions of ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), in violation of the First Restrictive Rule in ¶17 of the Constitution, which states that, “The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine”?

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we request a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council concerning the validity and constitutionality of our conference policy, set forth above, as follows:

Given that ¶2702.1 commands some of our clergy to remain single, it violates Article XXI (¶103) and is therefore an alteration and change of our Articles of Religion which is prohibited by the First Restrictive Rule in ¶17 of the Constitution of the UMC; and Given that our policy is consistent with ¶103, which states, “Therefore it is lawful for [the ministers of Christ] to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness,” but is in conflict with ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), which commands some of our clergy to remain single and removes their discretion to marry, is our policy valid and constitutional?

That policy, adopted overwhelmingly (83%-17%) by the New York Conference, is shown at right and is available here in PDF.

The United Methodist News Service reported on the Judicial Council’s rejection of the policy:

A policy adopted but not yet implemented by United Methodists in New York and Connecticut that essentially would have allowed clergy to marry someone of the same sex has been declared “null, void and of no effect” by the denomination’s top court.

The United Methodist Judicial Council has ruled that the New York Annual (regional) Conference resolution and policy allowing clergy “to marry at their own discretion” is “neither valid nor constitutional.”

While an annual conference can adopt rules and regulations for its own governance, the council wrote in Decision 1185, the conference “may not legally negate, ignore or violate provisions of the Discipline with which they disagree even when the disagreement is based upon conscientious objections to those provisions.”

Strictly speaking, as noted in a previous MethodistThinker post, even if the policy had been upheld, there should have been no situations in which it would apply.

UM Book of Discipline requirements on “standards of holy living” for United Methodist clergy bar “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being “accepted as [ministerial] candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” (¶304.3).

Nevertheless, the New York Conference presented an interesting set of arguments in favor of its policy:

The rationale for the New York policy…is that same-sex marriage is [now] legal in Connecticut[, which is part of the New York Conference]; that such unions performed legally elsewhere “are legally recognized by state agencies in New York”; and that the church’s Articles of Religion — doctrinal standards found in Paragraph 103 of the Book of Discipline — state that it is “lawful” for clergy “to marry at their own discretion.”

Contending that the Articles of Religion take precedence over other church laws outside the church’s constitution, the New York Conference declared that “we believe that any…provision (in the Discipline) denying marriage to some clergy is unconstitutional and contrary to the Articles of Religion…”

In particular, Paragraph 103 would take precedence over Paragraph 2702, the conference said.

It worth noting that liberals in the denomination have spent the better part of the last century slowly eviscerating the Articles of Religion, to the point where the document is widely held to be nothing more than historical curiosity that can be ignored at will (that’s certainly the only way to explain some of the bizarre stuff taught in United Methodist seminaries these days).

But when they think (incorrectly, as it turns out) they can use the Articles to get what they want, they go all creedal. The hypocrisy is stunning, if unsurprising.

The other two arguments seem to be saying (as liberals in the mainline have been saying since 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ignored precedent, tradition, history, biology, and anything else that would get the way in legalizing same-sex marriage) that state law should take precedence over church law in governing the denomination.

Needless to say, they didn’t get far with that.

During [an] oral hearing [last] October, J. Ann Craig and Nehemiah Luckett — New York lay members who identified themselves as homosexuals — argued that Article XXI of Paragraph 103, declares marriage is “a moral structure available to all.”

Which it is — any man is free to marry any woman, and vice versa.

At [last month’s] oral hearing in Detroit, Kevin Nelson, a New York lay member who identified himself as “a straight person who supports full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons,” argued that when John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote [sic] the Articles of Religion, he did not define marriage as heterosexual.

That’s true. The Articles don’t specifically prohibit two men from marrying, nor do they prohibit men from marrying manatees or statues of Elvis. Given the 18th century time frame, I would have thought we could simply assume that Wesley, who adapted the Methodism’s Twenty-Five Articles of Religion from the Anglican Church’s Thirty-Nine Articles (dating back to the 16th century), believed marriage to be a man-woman thing — but apparently not.

By the way, are you wondering what Article XXI actually says?

Article XXI—Of the Marriage of Ministers: The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God’s law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.

Ah. So Methodist Article XXI — just like Anglican Article XXXII on which it is based — was aimed at the Roman Catholic prohibition on ministers’ marrying. (Context can be such a pain in the neck, can’t it?)

More from the UMNS report:

Both Craig and Nelson noted that Wesley was well aware that issues of class, race and status could be used by society as an attempt to block marriage. “Although John Wesley may not have considered marriage for same-gender couples in Article XXI, the discretion of clergy to marry whom they choose can be understood on the face of it as a challenge to arbitrary social categories and prejudices,” Craig said at the October hearing.

Except that there’s nothing arbitrary about the restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples. It’s that pesky Bible thing, doncha know.

Nelson[, a program associate at the UMC’s General Board of Global Ministries,] declared that allowing other parts of the Discipline to supersede Article XXI is “anti-Wesleyan” and ignores the ministry of Jesus to the marginalized, “a marginalization that in today’s world and in the case of gay and lesbian persons is all too often perpetuated by the very Christian churches that have been charged by God with opposing it.”

Noting that “there is no acceptable place between humiliation and respect,” Nelson asked council members to “take a controversial but clearly proscribed stand” to uphold the church’s constitution and affirm the New York Conference policy.

As a constitutional argument, this amounted to a plea for the Judicial Council to do what the supreme courts of several states have done, and simply impose its own policy preferences (assuming they differ from the current ones) for that of the membership of the denomination.

The good thing about this is that it appears to shut off any judicial avenue for liberals in the United Methodist Church to foist their transformation of theology and ethics on the church as a whole.

Instead, they will have to go the route of trying to change the Book of Discipline at UMC’s General Conference, the world-wide meeting of the church that has seen evangelical United Methodists from Africa wield growing influence because their churches are growing which the American church shrinks.

Theological and moral standards still need to be enforced, of course, but at least the standards themselves aren’t going anywhere any time soon.


Related posts
Judicial Council asked to revisit Decision 1032, allow homosexual clergy to marry
United Methodist Judicial Council convenes for fall 2010 session
A word from Mr. Wesley: Holiness in singleness
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Judicial Council overturns bishop’s ruling on sexuality statement
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’

Related information
Court voids new policy on clergy marriage | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (May 3, 2011)
Docket for the April 27-30, 2011 meeting of the UM Judicial Council (PDF)
Petition #2010-305: Policy concerning marriage of all clergy and Article of Religion XXI (PDF) | New York Annual Conference (June 2010)
Court takes up membership, marriage | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (Feb. 4, 2011)
Jurisdiction and powers of the UM Judicial Council | ¶2609, Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church — 2008
Rules of practice and procedure (PDF) | UM Judicial Council (Revised April 2010)
African Power: How 192 delegates saved Methodists from madness & other stories from the General Conference | Mark Tooley, Touchstone (November 2008)
Five new members are elected to Judicial Council | Neill Caldwell, UMNS (April 28, 2008)
Judicial Council election excludes Africans (PDF) | UMAction (April 30, 2008)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

Read Full Post »

For the eighth time, the United Methodist Judicial Council is being asked to revisit a 2005 ruling that declared that the pastor-in-charge of a UM congregation is invested with the authority to determine if a parishioner is spiritually prepared to take the vows of church membership.

A UMNS graphic

The council — the denomination’s supreme court — will hear a reconsideration request (PDF) from the California-Pacific Annual Conference at this week’s spring session, which begins Wednesday (April 27) in Detroit.

At its October 2010 meeting, the Judicial Council denied similar reconsideration requests from the Arkansas Conference and the Northern Illinois Conference. The tersely worded denial, issued in Memorandum No. 1158 (available here in PDF), said simply: “The requests for reconsideration are hereby denied.”

The controversial 2005 ruling, known as Decision 1032, stemmed from Virginia Conference case in which a pastor explained to a sexually active homosexual man who wanted to join the South Hill (Va.) United Methodist Church that taking vows of membership in the UMC involved a public declaration of turning from sin. Further, the pastor explained that UM doctrine teaches that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is considered “incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶161F of the Book of Discipline).

The pastor, the Rev. Ed Johnson, did not bar the man from attending worship services or otherwise restrict his involvement in the congregational life of the South Hill church.

Pastor Johnson subsequently faced an administrative complaint from Virginia Conference Bishop Charlene Kammerer, who said that in not immediately allowing the man to become a member, Johnson was violating the Book of Discipline by demonstrating an “unwillingness or inability to perform ministerial duties” (¶362.2).

From the UM Baptismal Covenant

In Decision 1032, the Judicial Council ruled 5-3 against Bishop Kammerer, noting that the Book of Discipline “invest[s] discretion in the pastor-in-charge to make the determination of a person’s readiness to affirm the vows of membership.”

Last October, in a concurring opinion (PDF-p.3) issued along with the council’s terse denial for a reconsideration of Decision 1032, council member Jon R. Gray urged that efforts to resolve the underlying dispute that led to the 2005 decision be focused on the legislative arena — via the General Conference — rather than on the judicial processes of the UMC.

“[In the] five years [since] Decision 1032 was rendered, we have been asked in seven separate cases to review or reconsider Decision 1032 in some fashion,” he wrote. “The General Conference is the only body authorized and able to resolve the issue for the Church.”

Also on the Judicial Council docket this week is a case that asks the council to determine if a 225-year-old year old rule that that allows Methodist ministers to marry — specifically, Article XXI of the Articles of Religion — supersedes the Book of Discipline‘s language on the heterosexual nature of marriage.

Policy Concerning Marriage
of All Clergy and
Article of Religion XXI

WHEREAS, the Articles of Religion take precedence over all other sections of the Book of Discipline outside the Constitution, we believe that any Disciplinary provision denying marriage to some clergy is unconstitutional and contrary to the Articles of Religion and the first Restrictive Rule (see ¶17); and,

WHEREAS, interpretation of scriptures that relate to issues outside the Articles of Religion, the Confession of Faith, and John Wesley’s Notes and Sermons does not rise to the level of doctrine (see ¶102, pp. 58-59); and,

WHEREAS, same-sex marriage is legally permitted in the state of Connecticut;…

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) adopts a policy effective January 1, 2011 that all clergy in the NYAC may be legally married at their own discretion, as permitted by ¶103 of the Articles of Religion. We direct that all Conference Boards and agencies conduct their business consistent with this policy; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, given that our policy is consistent with ¶103, which states, “Therefore it is lawful for [the ministers of Christ] to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness,” but it is in conflict with ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), which bar clergy from any form of marriage other than heterosexual marriage and bar them from self-avowed practicing homosexuality, even in the context of marriage, the NYAC requests a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council (see ¶2601.1 and ¶2610.2j) as follows:

Is our policy valid in light of the apparent alteration and change of ¶103 of the Articles of Religion by General Conference when they established the provisions of ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), in violation of the First Restrictive Rule in ¶17 of the Constitution, which states that, “The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine”?

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we request a Declaratory Decision from the Judicial Council concerning the validity and constitutionality of our conference policy, set forth above, as follows:

Given that ¶2702.1 commands some of our clergy to remain single, it violates Article XXI (¶103) and is therefore an alteration and change of our Articles of Religion which is prohibited by the First Restrictive Rule in ¶17 of the Constitution of the UMC; and Given that our policy is consistent with ¶103, which states, “Therefore it is lawful for [the ministers of Christ] to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness,” but is in conflict with ¶2702.1 (a) & (b), which commands some of our clergy to remain single and removes their discretion to marry, is our policy valid and constitutional?

The case, deferred from last fall’s Judicial Council session, stems from a policy resolution adopted overwhelmingly last year (83%-17%) by the New York Annual Conference.

The resolution, sponsored by the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Methodists in New Directions (a New York Conference group affiliated with the pro-homosexuality Reconciling Ministries Network), is aimed at allowing homosexuals serving as clergy in the NY Conference to marry.

(Marriage between two men or two women is now legal in the state of Connecticut, which is part of the UMC’s New York Conference.)

The new policy (shown at right and here in PDF) permits clergy members of the New York Conference to be “legally married at their own discretion, as permitted by Paragraph 103 of the Articles of Religion.”

Strictly speaking, there should be no situations in which the New York Conference policy would apply. Book of Discipline requirements on “standards of holy living” for United Methodist clergy bar “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being “accepted as [ministerial] candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” (¶304.3).

In addition, any “clergy member of an annual conference…may be tried when charged…with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in a heterosexual marriage; (b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual…” (¶2702).

The United Methodist News Service offered details on the New York Conference case earlier this year:

During an oral hearing at the October [Judicial Council] meeting, J. Ann Craig and Nehemiah Luckett — New York lay members who identified themselves as gay — argued that Article XXI of Paragraph 103, declares that marriage is “a moral structure available to all.”…

[J. Ann Craig previously served as the executive secretary for Spiritual and Theological Development in the UMC’s Women’s Division; Nehemiah Luckett is the composer-in-residence and associate minister of music at Asbury Crestwood United Methodist Church in Tuckahoe (Yonkers), N.Y.]

In her presentation, Craig said that the denomination’s ban on same-gender marriage is contrary to Paragraph 103, which states that it is “lawful” for pastors, “as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.”

She added that the church’s doctrinal standards, of which the Articles of Religion are a part, take precedence over changes to the Book of Discipline.

The October oral hearing also included a presentation in support of current UMC policy from Wisconsin pastor Thomas Lambrecht, a board member of Good News, a ministry that describes itself as “a voice for repentance, an agent for reform, and a catalyst for renewal within the United Methodist Church.” [Disclosure: The editor of this blog is a Good News board member.]

Lambrecht said the New York Conference policy constitutes a clear misapplication of Paragraph 103. The policy “unilaterally changes the [UMC’s] definition of marriage” without the approval of General Conference, he said.

Paragraph 161F of the United Methodist Book of Discipline states that “sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.”

Further, according to Paragraph 161B, the United Methodist Church supports “laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

The full five-case docket for this week’s meeting of the United Methodist Judicial Council is here (PDF). The nine current members of the United Methodist Judicial Council are listed below.

  • Susan T. Henry-Crowe (Council president, clergy, South Carolina Conf.)
  • — Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at Emory Univ. in Atlanta

  • Jon R. Gray (Council vice president, lay, Missouri West Conf.)
  • — attorney, former circuit court judge

  • Angela Brown (lay, California-Nevada Conf.)
  • — asst. district attorney in San Francisco, board member—National Center for Lesbian Rights (PDF-see page 7), past vice president—NIA Collective, an organization for lesbians of African descent

  • William B. Lawrence (clergy, North Texas Conf.)
  • — Dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology

The alternate members:

  • Joe May (first clergy alternate, Mississippi Conf.)
  • Jay Arthur Garrison (first lay alternate, Holston Conf.)
  • J. Montgomery (Monty) Brown (clergy, West Virginia)
  • Thomas K. Byerly (lay, West Michigan Conf.)
  • Mary A. Daffin (lay, Texas Conf.)
  • John Harnish (clergy, Michigan Conf.)
  • James D. Karblee (clergy, Liberia Conf.)
  • Raymond Mande Mutombo (lay, North Katanga Conf.)
  • Deanell Tacha (lay, Kansas East Conf.)
  • William F. White (lay, Wisconsin Conf.)
  • Rodney E. Wilmoth (clergy, Rocky Mountain Conf.)
  • Vicki Woods (clergy, New England Conf.)
Related posts
United Methodist Judicial Council convenes for fall 2010 session
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Judicial Council overturns bishop’s ruling on sexuality statement
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’

Related information
Docket for the April 27-30, 2011 meeting of the UM Judicial Council (PDF)
RES 10-5: Request Judicial Council reconsider Decision 1032 (PDF) | California Pacific Annual Conference (June 20, 2010)
Decision 1032 | UM Judicial Council (Oct. 29, 2005)
A pastoral letter to the people of The United Methodist Church | UM Council of Bishops (Nov. 2, 2005)
Judicial Council Decision 1032 and ecclesiology (PDF) | William J. Abraham, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry Consultation on Decision 1032 (February 2007)
Petition #2010-305: Policy concerning marriage of all clergy and Article of Religion XXI (PDF) | New York Annual Conference (June 2010)
Court takes up membership, marriage | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (Feb. 4, 2011)
Jurisdiction and powers of the UM Judicial Council | ¶2609, Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church — 2008
Rules of practice and procedure (PDF) | UM Judicial Council (Revised April 2010)
New membership vows and ritual (revised and corrected) | Taylor Burton-Edwards, UM General Board of Discipleship (effective Jan. 1, 2009)
The services of the Baptismal Covenant in the United Methodist Church (as revised to align with the 2008 Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions) (PDF) | UM General Board of Discipleship/United Methodist Publishing House (2009)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
Five new members are elected to Judicial Council | Neill Caldwell, UMNS (April 28, 2008)
Judicial Council election excludes Africans (PDF) | UMAction (April 30, 2008)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
Good News’ response to Cal/Nevada’s dismissal of complaints against 68 clergy involved in same-sex covenant | James V. Heidinger II on behalf of the Good News Board of Directors (Feb. 14, 2000)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

Read Full Post »

The United Methodist Church in the Philippines, despite a steep decline in its reported membership, will enjoy an overall increase in the number of delegates it sends to the 2102 General Conference and will have a level of representation far out of proportion to its membership.

The 2012 UM General Conference will have outsized representation from both Europe and the Philippines

Likewise, the representation level of the European Central Conferences will bear no connection to actual membership.

These details are included in a report released by the secretary of the General Conference that sets the total number of delegates to next year’s quadrennial gathering at 988 and advises annual conference leaders about the number of delegates each annual conference will be allowed to send.

A seven-page spreadsheet summary and analysis (PDF) of the denominational data, prepared by former North Georgia Conference Lay Leader Joe Whittemore and obtained by MethodistThinker.com, notes that Europe and the Philippines, which together account for less than 2 percent of total UMC membership, will have delegations that comprise more than 9 percent of the 2012 General Conference.

Specifically, the Whittemore analysis notes that Philippines Central Conference, despite a reported decline of nearly 28 percent in membership since delegation sizes were calculated for the 2008 General Conference, will nonetheless see a 14.3 percent increase in the size of its 2012 delegation.

(The steep membership decline in the Philippines is left unexplained in the denominational data; it is likely due in part to more accurate membership reporting from the annual conferences there.)

Meanwhile the European Central Conferences (Central and Southern Europe, Germany, Northern Europe), despite a overall membership loss of 8.5 percent since delegation sizes were calculated for 2008, will see no impact on the size of their delegations.

The out-of-proportion representation afforded to Europe and the Philippines is the result a constitutional provision, applied to small annual conferences, that overrules the normal formula for determining representation.

Typically, the size of each annual conference’s delegation is based on a formula — approved by the 2000 General Conference and found in ¶502 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline — that allows each annual conference to send one clergy delegate and one lay delegate for every 375 clergy members in the conference, plus one clergy delegate and one lay delegate for each 26,000 lay members.

Certain conferences, however, are too small for the formula to apply. Under the United Methodist Constitution (¶15: Section II, Article III), such conferences are guaranteed a minimum of two delegates — one clergy and one lay — regardless of membership. The guaranteed-minimum rule gives these smaller conferences — and the Central Conferences or Jurisdictions areas of which they are a part — outsized representation at the expense of larger conferences.

Based on a strict application of the 375 clergy/26,000 lay members formula, the Philippines Central Conference would send only 14 delegates to the next General Conference, according to the Whittemore analysis. Instead, because the Philippines church is composed of 23 annual conferences, the Philippines is guaranteed a minimum of 46 delegates. (Its actual delegation size next year will be 48.)

Click to enlarge

Likewise, without the minimum rule, the Central Conferences of Europe would send only eight delegates to the 2012 General Conference, according to Mr. Whittemore’s calculations, rather than the 42 called for under the recently released delegation data.

The additional delegates afforded to Europe and the Philippines by the guaranteed-minimum rule will mean that the Central Conferences of Africa (Africa, Congo, West Africa) will have a level of representation that falls well below what would be required under a strict application of the 375 clergy/26,000 lay members formula.

According to denominational membership tallies as of Dec. 31, 2009 — the figures used to calculate delegation sizes for the 2012 General Conference — United Methodists in Africa comprise 34.6 percent of total UMC membership. However, at next year’s General Conference, African delegates will make up only 28.5 percent of voting members, assuming all delegates are present.

The second- and third-largest areas of the UMC, the United States’ Southeastern and South Central Jurisdictions, respectively, will also see their representation diluted by the two-per-conference-minimum rule. The SEJ, with 24 percent of total UMC membership, will have 22.3 percent of delegates. The SCJ, with 14.4 percent of members, will have 13 percent of delegates.

The three other U.S. Jurisdctions — Western, Northeastern, and North Central — will all enjoy delegation sizes slightly larger than their actual membership would call for if General Conference representation was strictly proportional.

As noted above, the number of delegates for GC2012 has been set at 988.

The UM Constitution (¶13: Section II, Article I) requires that the quadrennial General Conference “be composed of not less than 600 nor more than 1,000 delegates, one half of whom shall be clergy and one half lay members, to be elected by the annual conferences.” Further, the Constitution requires UM missionary conferences to be considered as annual conferences for purposes of General Conference representation.

Ten delegates to the 2012 General Conference are expected to come from “concordat” churches with which the United Methodist has a formal relationship, including four voting delegates from the British Methodist Church (see ¶13).

A November 2010 press release from the UMC’s Office of Public Information offered background on the process of determining  delegation sizes for the 2012 General Conference:

The Constitution of The United Methodist Church allows for the General Conference to have anywhere from 600 to 1,000 delegates. Because the formula that is provided within church law for the distribution of delegates currently allocates more than 1,000 delegates, the formula must be adjusted to bring the total within that range.

In October 2009, the Judicial Council issued a decision stating that the secretary of the General Conference has the authority to “determine the number of delegates that each annual and missionary conference will elect to General Conference within the provisions of the Constitution and the legislative enactments of the General Conference.”…

A decision about the number of delegates was delayed in part because of a request from the South Carolina annual conference for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council concerning the secretary’s authority to calculate the number of delegates to be elected by each annual conference.

At their fall meeting, the Judicial Council said it has no jurisdiction to act upon that request because the request did not “have a direct and tangible effect on the work of the” South Carolina Conference.

The current secretary of the General Conference is the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist, the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Pa.

Reist was nominated to the secretary’s post by UM Council of Bishops and was elected by the 2004 General Conference. He was re-elected in 2008.


Related post
Prominent UM layman offers analysis of amendments outcome

Related articles and information
2012 General Conference delegations as compared to membership (PDF) | Joe Whittemore (Jan. 7, 2011)
The Jurisdictional Conferences (U.S.) and the Central Conferences of the United Methodist Church | Wikipedia
Fairly represented? GC 2008 considers limits on delegates | Bill Fentum, United Methodist Reporter (April 18, 2008)
Southeastern delegates push for fair representation at General Conference | Alice Smith, United Methodist News Service (Sept. 24, 1999)

Read Full Post »

Update: On Oct. 30, the Judicial Council denied requests to reconsider Decision 1032. The denial was issued in Memorandum No. 1158 (available here in PDF).

The United Methodist Judicial Council opened its fall session in New Orleans Wednesday with a heavy docket of 31 items (PDF), including several related to a controversial 2005 decision (Decision 1032) in which the council ruled that a pastor has the authority to gauge if a prospective church member is spiritually ready to take membership vows.

The Northern Illinois Conference is asking Judicial Council, the denomination’s “supreme court,” to reconsider Decision 1032, as are the Minnesota and Arkansas Conferences. Northern Illinois also is requesting declaratory decisions on four other matters related to membership.

UMNS graphic

Decision 1032, decided by a 5-3 vote, arose from a Virginia Conference case. In early 2005, the Rev. Ed Johnson, then pastor of South Hill UMC, counseled a sexually active homosexual man who wanted to join the South Hill church.

The man, an inactive member of a non-UM church in the area, had been attending South Hill UMC for several months and expressed a desire to transfer his membership.

Pastor Johnson made clear to the man that UM membership vows included both a renunciation of sin (“Do you…repent of your sin?”) and a profession of faith (“Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord…?”).

Since homosexual activity is deemed by the UMC to be “incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶161F of the Book of Discipline, in light of Romans 1 and other passages), Johnson made clear that joining the church would have implications for the man’s involvement in homosexual relationships.

(NOTE: The 2008 General Conference adopted a change in ¶225 of the Book of Discipline that allows a baptized member of “another denomination” to transfer to the UMC without a specific renunciation of sin. Instructions that accompany the new official membership liturgy (PDF) refer to this as “being received into baptized but not professing membership.” More on this below.)

In January 2005, Pastor Johnson “began his usual pastoral practice of holding membership classes. He met with [the membership candidate] six times, called him on the phone, took homemade raisin bread to his shop, and offered to be the membership candidate’s ‘spiritual friend,'” according to the oral argument (PDF) presented at the October 2005 Judicial Council hearing by the Rev. Tom Thomas, Johnson’s counsel.

From the UM Baptismal Covenant

“In February 2005 meetings with the membership candidate, [he] acknowledged to [Pastor] Johnson his on-going homosexual practice and his intention to continue having same-sex sex.

“[Pastor Johnson] told the membership candidate he would regretfully have to postpone [the man’s] membership candidacy until they worked through some issues,” Thomas said.

The following month, Virginia Conference Bishop Charlene Kammerer sent an administrative complaint against Ed Johnson to the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, citing the pastor’s “unwillingness or inability to perform ministerial duties” (Book of Discipline ¶362.2). Later, Johnson was suspended without pay.

In Decision 1032, the Judicial Council ruled in Pastor Johnson’s favor, noting that the Book of Discipline “invest[s] discretion in the pastor-in-charge to make the determination of a person’s readiness to affirm the vows of membership.”

In a dissenting opinion, council member (now council president) Susan T. Henry-Crowe argued that the decision “compromises the historical understanding that the Church is open to all.”

Johnson was appointed to a church in another city. A new pastor sent to South Hill, the Rev. Barry Burkholder, allowed the man at the center of the membership controversy to join by transfer from a nearby Baptist church.

In a recent commentary, associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, described what happened after Decision 1032 was issued and offered background on the moves to revisit the decision.

[The UM Council of Bishops] made a statement [four days after Decision 1032 was rendered] defending the bishop of Virginia, implying that the Judicial Council decision was wrong.

Dr. Riley B. Case

The bishops followed this with another unprecedented action: they would not renominate for re-election any of the Judicial Council members who voted with the majority in the decision.

In 2008 the General Conference elected a new slate of Judicial Council members whose views were more in line with the “progressive” element of the church….

[Further] an amendment to Article IV [— the “Inclusiveness of the Church” article of the UM Constitution] was submitted to the 2008 General Conference and approved (with very little debate) by that body with the necessary two-thirds vote.

The amendment sought to [alter the language of Article IV] so that “all persons” meant all persons, regardless of what persons believed or practiced, or even whether they had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Thus, supposedly, in the name of diversity a blow would be struck for the condoning of homosexual practice…. “[D]iversity” would now be inscribed in the constitution as the basis for membership, taking the place of confession in Jesus Christ.

The amendment to Article IV, which needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the voting members of annual conferences, failed spectacularly. Needing a two-thirds vote in the annual conferences, it failed even to muster a majority. [This] was, and is, a sharp reminder that the leadership of The United Methodist Church is disconnected from the local church, from the annual conferences, and from the overseas church….

Now a new strategy…. The North Illinois Annual Conference petitioned the Judicial Council to consider whether Judicial Council Decision 1032 is superseded by ¶225 in the Discipline.

From the UM General Board of Discipleship

Paragraph 225 now states that “a member in good standing in any Christian denomination who has been baptized and who desires to be united with The United Methodist Church shall be received” [rather than “may”] as a member of the UMC. The 2008 General Conference added the word “shall” to the paragraph in an effort to institutionally force “inclusivity.”

The question is moot, of course, because Decision 1032 was made before the word “shall” in ¶225 was placed in the Discipline. It would be a relevant question only if a similar Ed Johnson case were now presented to the Judicial Council.

But ¶225 illustrates the problem of ambiguity that characterizes so many parts of the Discipline. The same paragraph that uses the word “shall” also uses the word “may” (persons may be received).

The intent of the paragraph is to recognize the validity of church membership and baptism in other denominations. Is it now to be re-interpreted to mean much more than it was ever intended to mean — namely, that a church or a pastor may inquire into the faith of a person being received into membership by profession of faith, but may not inquire into the faith and beliefs of a possible transfer?

And what is a “Christian” denomination? Do we include Mormons, Unitarians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and United Pentecostals (who do not baptize in the name of the triune God)?….

And who is “a member in good standing”? In the actual Ed Johnson case that was an important part of the issue. The person seeking membership was hardly in good standing in the previous church (actually two churches) which basically asked him to leave because he was being disruptive.

If the Judicial Council decides at this week’s meeting to revisit Decision 1032, the actual reconsideration would not occur until the council’s spring 2011 meeting.

Also on the docket this week, the Judicial Council is also being asked to rule on whether the secretary of the General Conference has the authority to determine the number of delegates to quadrennial General Conference.

Another case asks the council to determine if a 224-year-old year old rule that that allows Methodist ministers to marry (Article XXI of the Articles of Religion) supersedes the church’s prohibition against same-sex marriage for clergy.

In addition to its request regarding Decision 1032, the Northern Illinois Conference is requesting that the council permit each annual conference to adopt its own definition of the term “status” in Article IV of the Constitution (“All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible…upon baptism [to] be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking the vows declaring the Christian faith, [to] become professing members in any local church in the connection”—italics added for emphasis). Northern Illinois specifically seeks to include “sexual orientation and transgender identity” in its definition of “status.”

The Judicial Council rejected a 2006 request to reconsider Decision 1032 (filed by Bishop Charlene Kammerer and the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry). But as noted above, the make-up of the nine-member council has changed significantly since then as a result of the election of new council members at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

As reported in the April 29, 2008, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (article no longer online), “The council previously had a 6-3 conservative majority. But only one of the council members elected…is conservative, joining the sole conservative member remaining on the council.” Even though approximately 30 percent of United Methodists live in Africa, no African was elected to serve as a primary member of the council (two Methodists from Africa were elected as “alternate” members).

According to a report by the California-Nevada (Conference) News Service, the election of “progressive” members was the result of a coordinated effort.

Richard Bentley, a clergyman in the California-Pacific Conference [and convener of the California-Pacific Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action], was instrumental in developing the winning progressive slate. He was one of three men who called together contacts from annual conferences in each of five U.S. jurisdictions to give input on candidates who progressives affirmed will be, in their terms, “fair and balanced.”

Consensus developed based on theological perspectives and existing base support that could be augmented….

The slate was printed and distributed to nearly every annual conference delegation.

An editorial (no longer online) in the May/June 2008 Good News magazine noted that distribution of the slate appeared to be in violation of General Conference guidelines.

A matter left unexplained after the election of the new Council members was who exactly was responsible for a brochure placed on the desks of many delegates the morning of the elections.

The goldenrod flier listed candidates who were “recommended by a politically unaffiliated group of fifty jurisdictional and central conference delegates” but didn’t say who these fifty were — it wasn’t signed. It simply appeared on the desks of many delegates. (A conference rule prohibits materials being placed on the desks of the delegates.)

The flier’s…recommended candidates were all elected, and in the order listed on the brochure.

Following the elections, a delegate raised a question about the official-looking flier, but the report back was that no rule had been violated.

Dan Johnson with flier

Dan Johnson with flier

Use the audio player below to hear delegate Dan Johnson (clergy member, Florida Conference) raise a question about whether the flier, apparently distributed in violation of General Conference rules, had affected the outcome of the Judicial Council elections.

Bishop Mike Coyner (Indiana Conference) is the presiding officer.

The interchange is about two minutes.

The nine current members of the United Methodist Judicial Council are:

  • Susan T. Henry-Crowe (Council president, clergy, South Carolina Conf.)
  • — Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at Emory Univ. in Atlanta

  • Jon R. Gray (Council vice president, lay, Missouri West Conf.)
  • — attorney, former circuit court judge

  • Angela Brown (lay, California-Nevada Conf.)
  • — asst. district attorney in San Francisco, board member—National Center for Lesbian Rights (PDF-see page 7), past vice president—NIA Collective, an organization for lesbians of African descent

  • William B. Lawrence (clergy, North Texas Conf.)
  • — Dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology

The alternate members:

  • Joe May (first clergy alternate, Mississippi Conf.)
  • Jay Arthur Garrison (first lay alternate, Holston Conf.)
  • J. Montgomery (Monty) Brown (clergy, West Virginia)
  • Thomas K. Byerly (lay, West Michigan Conf.)
  • Mary A. Daffin (lay, Texas Conf.)
  • John Harnish (clergy, Michigan Conf.)
  • James D. Karblee (clergy, Liberia Conf.)
  • Raymond Mande Mutombo (lay, North Katanga Conf.)
  • Deanell Tacha (lay, Kansas East Conf.)
  • William F. White (lay, Wisconsin Conf.)
  • Rodney E. Wilmoth (clergy, Rocky Mountain Conf.)
  • Vicki Woods (clergy, New England Conf.)
Related posts
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Judicial Council overturns bishop’s ruling on sexuality statement
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’

Related information
Jurisdiction and powers of the UM Judicial Council | ¶2609, Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church — 2008
Rules of practice and procedure (PDF) | UM Judicial Council (Revised April 2010)
Top court takes up membership issues | Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service (via UM Reporter — Aug. 9, 2010)
Docket for the Oct. 27-30, 2010 meeting of the UM Judicial Council (PDF)
New membership vows and ritual (revised and corrected) | Taylor Burton-Edwards, UM General Board of Discipleship (effective Jan. 1, 2009)
The services of the Baptismal Covenant in the United Methodist Church (as revised to align with the 2008 Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions) (PDF) | UM General Board of Discipleship/United Methodist Publishing House (2009)
Decision 1032 | UM Judicial Council (Oct. 29, 2005)
A pastoral letter to the people of The United Methodist Church | UM Council of Bishops (Nov. 2, 2005)
Judicial Council Decision 1032 and ecclesiology (PDF) | William J. Abraham, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry Consultation on Decision 1032 (February 2007)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
By what power? S.C. asks Judicial Council to decide authority of General Conference secretary | Jessica Connor, South Carolina United Methodist Advocate (Sept. 1, 2010)
Five new members are elected to Judicial Council | Neill Caldwell, UMNS (April 28, 2008)
Judicial Council election excludes Africans (PDF) | UMAction (April 30, 2008)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Debate at the 2004 General Conference on various legislation related to homosexuality (includes audio) | 2004 General Conference Archive
Resources list: Ministry for and with homosexual persons (requested by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference) (PDF) | United Methodist Publishing House
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
Good News’ response to Cal/Nevada’s dismissal of complaints against 68 clergy involved in same-sex covenant | James V. Heidinger II on behalf of the Good News Board of Directors (Feb. 14, 2000)
Good News board urges bishops to preserve unity of church | United Methodist News Service (Feb. 2, 1999)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

Read Full Post »

Following a four-month period of “prayer, study, [and] discussion” billed as the “Summer of Great Discernment,” one of United Methodism’s most prominent churches has concluded that the United Methodist Church’s restrictions on homosexual marriage, and by implication the Christian faith’s long-held doctrines related to marriage and homosexuality, are “inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Foundry UMC's main building

A policy statement (PDF) approved last week by Washington, D.C’.s Foundry UMC argues that a United Methodist rule prohibiting clergy from officiating at union ceremonies for same-sex couples “exclude[s] gay and lesbian members from the full life of the church” and therefore is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings.

The Foundry statement does not cite any specific teaching from the gospels or the other New Testament books in which the words of Christ are recorded.

The United Methodist Church’s prohibition on officiating at a union ceremony for two men or two women is found in Paragraph 341.6 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline. That paragraph also prohibits conducting same-sex union ceremonies in UM church buildings.

Foundry’s statement, passed by a 367-8 vote, further asserts that the UMC’s prohibition on homosexual marriage violates the denomination’s own Constitution. By failing to affirm same-sex unions, the United Methodist Church is contravening Article IV of the UM Constitution, the Foundry policy statement argues. Article IV says (in part) that “no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, status or economic condition.”

In a “special edition” of the Foundry Forge newsletter (PDF) published just after the vote, the church’s senior pastor Dean Snyder, who has served at Foundry UMC since 2002, said the congregation’s decision to reject Paragraph 341.6 and embrace homosexual marriage is “the right thing” to do.

“We’ve studied, discussed, and voted. We’ve done the right thing,” he wrote. “We will have beautiful weddings here for all of our members and friends who want to be married here.”

The outcome of Foundry UMC’s “Summer of Great Discernment” was not unexpected. In 2008, Foundry began “recogniz[ing] same-sex unions in special ceremonies that [fell] just short of an official wedding,” according to a United Methodist News Service report.

A year later, Foundry was one of seven churches that sponsored a resolution on human sexuality that was approved by the Baltimore-Washington Conference but was later overturned by the United Methodist Judicial Council.

The resolution, which said United Methodists are “divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality,” effectively “negated the church’s clearly stated position,” the Council ruled.

Foundry UMC has been affiliated with the homosexuality-affirming Reconciling Ministries Network since 1995. RMN is an unofficial group that “mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.”

The Reconciling Ministries Network has been involved in repeated attempts to change official United Methodist doctrine related to sexual practice. “RMN works for full equality in membership, ordination, and marriage for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children,” according to the group’s website.

Earlier this year, shortly after same-sex weddings were declared legal by the District of Columbia City Council, another RMN-affiliated church in D.C., Dumbarton UMC in Georgetown, announced it would “honor and celebrate” weddings between two men or two women (text of statement by the Dumbarton UMC church council). “We celebrate love and loyalty wherever it is found,” Dumbarton’s pastor Mary Kay Totty said.

In a 2009 case arising from the California-Nevada Conference, the United Methodist Judicial Council effectively ruled (Decision 1111) that even in states or jurisdictions where same-sex unions have been deemed legal, UM clergy who perform such unions are nonetheless acting in disobedience to the Book of Discipline.

Last week’s action by Foundry UMC, though focused on United Methodist policy, challenges nearly two millennia of church teaching on homosexual activity.

Some of the earliest-known examples of such teaching — from church leaders such as John Chrysostom, Cyprian, and Theodoret of Cyrus — are summarized by UM scholar Thomas C. Oden in Staying the Course: Supporting the [United Methodist] Church’s Position on Homosexuality (Abingdon Press, 2003), a collection of essays by UM leaders and theologians.

Below are excerpts from Dr. Oden’s essay about the church’s historic teaching on the first chapter of Romans, in which the apostle Paul discusses homosexual behavior as an outgrowth of humanity’s tendency toward idolatry.

The [Romans] passage divides itself naturally into two parts: the foolish and idolatrous exchange of God for creaturely images; and the exchange of natural for unnatural passions….

Dr. Thomas C. Oden

Paul writes in Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.”

Paul first clearly asserts that they (all humanity, of whatever sexual practice) “knew God.”… Yet precisely those who knew God as God “did not honor him as God.” This is the tragic story of all humanity enmeshed in the history of sin…. In this way all humanity… “became futile in their thinking.”….

The foolish exchange is set forth in verse 22: “Claiming to be wise they became fools, and exchanged the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.”… “Having a high opinion of themselves, and not being patient enough to go the way that God had commanded them,” wrote John Chrysostom, “they became immersed in a way of thinking which made no sense” (Homilies on Romans)….

Romans 1:24: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” Who is “they?” Not homosexuals in particular, but the whole history of idolatrous humanity. Theodoret of Cyrus: “By gave them up [paredoken] Paul means that God permitted this to happen. He simply abandoned them because they had fallen into extreme ungodliness.” (Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans)….

Up to this point we have been describing not homosexual practice specifically, but the general condition of humanity: idolatry and foolishness. Now a major transition occurs in Paul’s argument. He is going to illustrate the general principle with a specific example.

Romans 1:21-2:4

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

(New International Version)

Romans 1:26: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural.”Here homosexual practice (they “exchanged natural relations for unnatural” [metellaxan ten phusiken chresin eis ten para phusin]) specifically enters for the first time into Paul’s discussion, as a dramatic case in point, illustrating the larger human predicament (idolatry).

Ambrosiaster recognized and explained Paul’s distinction between what is natural and what is unnatural sexually: “Paul tells us that these things came about, that a woman should lust after another woman, because God was angry at the human race because of its idolatry….” (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles)….

Romans 1:27: “And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” When men are consumed with sexual passion for other men, the reason is not merely lust, but idolatry: “It is clear that because they changed the truth of God into a lie, they changed the natural use of sexuality into that use by which they were dishonored” (Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles).

What specifically are these “shameless acts”? The context makes it unavoidable that these are acts that men commit with men, and that they are sexually focused. This demeans human dignity. Cyprian regarded “men committing shameless acts with men” as “an indignity even to see,” from which one naturally turns one’s eyes away…. (Cyprian, To Donatus)….

This is costly for men. What did they give up? The natural for the unnatural. They left behind “natural relations with women” [ten phusiken chresin tes theleias]. Men lusting for men “receive in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”…

Paul was writing to the church in Rome. He knew that Rome had a homosexual community, according to Severian of Gabala: “Paul did not say this lightly, but because he had heard that there was a homosexual community at Rome” (Pauline Commentary From the Greek Church), so this example was not pulled out miscellaneously, but intentionally addressed to the Roman Christians as a warning….

Contrary to normal sexual desires, homosexual practice turns the sexes against each other, and intensifies the war between the sexes…. This is the work of the devil who “was bent on destroying the human race, not only by preventing them from copulating lawfully, but by stirring them up to war and subversion against each other” (Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans). The devil does not like natural and normal sexuality between a man and a woman in covenant fidelity looking toward the protection of children….

The result of idolatry was to drag down both men and women, pitting them against each other, and promising but not delivering pleasure, and eliciting in them a heightened readiness to tolerate other accelerating evils. Romans 1:28: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.”…

The willingness to tolerate many sorts of sexual distortions is a staple aspect of homosexual consciousness and history, as Ambrosiaster recognized. He portrays the homosexual life as one that nurses the improbable fantasy that God will look the other way: “Because of the error of idolatry they were handed over to doing evil things with each other…. And because they thought they could get away with it, …Paul adds here that they were more and more reduced to folly and became ever readier to tolerate all kinds of evils, to the point that they imagined that God would never avenge things which no one doubted were offensive to humanity as well….” (Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles).

Here Ambrosiaster correlates Paul’s comments on female and male homosexuality with the longer list of offenses [in Romans 1:29-30] that become more easily tolerated….

“Paul put wickedness at the head of the list, because he thought that evil and covetousness depended on it. He then added malice, from which flows envy, murder, strife and deceit. After this he put malignity, which generates gossip and slander” (Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles)….

Homosexuals do not have the excuse that they are being prevented from licit intercourse by God, because they themselves have chosen an unnatural way: “No one can say that it was by being prevented from legitimate intercourse that they came to this pass, or that it was from having no means to fulfill their desire that they were driven into this monstrous insanity” (Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans).

Elsewhere in his Staying the Course essay, Dr. Oden noted that he is “praying for the grace of charity in respect for all homosexuals, each of whom is created in the image of God, and [is] an intended recipient of the atoning love of God.”

Nonetheless, “I do not hide behind the claim that these consensual views [of earlier theologians on homosexual practice] are not mine,” he wrote. “I joyfully confirm them as true to the apostolic tradition.”

Thomas C. Oden (bio—PDF) retired as Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at Drew University in 2004. His teaching career included positions at Yale, Southern Methodist University, Phillips University, and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Dr. Oden has served as the general editor of InterVarsity Press’s 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. His most recent book is How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (InterVarsity Press, 2008 — Google Books preview).

Staying the Course: Supporting the [UM] Church’s Position on Homosexuality features essays by, among others, Leicester Longden, Joy J. Moore, Richard B. Hays, William J. Abraham, and Maxie Dunnam. The table of contents is here.

The book is available from Cokesbury and Barnes and Noble.


Related posts
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Defying denomination, UM church in D.C. offers to perform same-sex weddings
Judicial Council overturns bishop’s ruling on sexuality statement
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
Transforming Congregations to merge with Exodus International
Sexuality resolution not at variance with Discipline, bishop rules
In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ’08
Joe Whittemore: ‘Enough is enough’
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement

Related information
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
Foundry Church crossed a line! | Mark Tooley, Faith Experience (July 31, 2010)
In visit to D.C., homosexual Episcopal bishop advises UM church to “get into trouble” | Jeff Walton, IRD (July 20, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
Slavery, homosexuality, and not being of one mind | Riley B. Case, via The Sundry Times (July 1, 2008)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
United Methodists uphold homosexuality stance | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (April 30, 2008)
D.C. Foundry church will honor same-sex unions | Robin Russell, United Methodist News Service (March 11, 2008)
Judicial Council Decision 1032 and ecclesiology (PDF) | William J. Abraham, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry Consultation on Decision 1032 (February 2007)
Methodists strengthen stand against homosexual practice | Christianity Today (May 5, 2004)
Debate at the 2004 General Conference on various legislation related to homosexuality (includes audio) | 2004 General Conference Archive
Resources list: Ministry for and with homosexual persons (requested by the UMC’s 2004 General Conference) (PDF) | United Methodist Publishing House
Homosexuality and the Bible (PDF) | R. Albert Mohler Jr., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
Good News’ response to Cal/Nevada’s dismissal of complaints against 68 clergy involved in same-sex covenant | James V. Heidinger II on behalf of the Good News Board of Directors (Feb. 14, 2000)
Good News board urges bishops to preserve unity of church | United Methodist News Service (Feb. 2, 1999)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)
Liberal Methodism of Clintons may explain political positions (a column about Foundry UMC) | Cal Thomas (April 22, 1995)
An interview with Thomas Oden, general editor, The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture | InterVarsity Press

Read Full Post »

Following the defeat of proposed constitutional amendments aimed at restructuring the United Methodist Church into a series of more-autonomous regional conferences, the bishop who heads the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the UMC is appealing for help in finding a restructuring approach that will gain approval across the denomination.

Bishop Scott Jones

Speaking last week at a breakfast sponsored by the Wesleyan Renewal Movement, a group of clergy in the North Georgia Conference, Bishop Scott J. Jones said the defeat of the amendments shows a different approach is needed.

“There is lots of conversation going on, especially within the study committee which I chair, as to why they were rejected. But the most important question is how to move forward,” Bishop Jones said.

“The problems which gave rise to the [series of restructuring amendments] have not gone away,” he said. Those problems, the bishop noted, stem from an increasingly out-of-date structure designed for “a U.S. church with a few foreign outposts.”

In recent years, the United Methodist Church has grown rapidly in Africa and the Philippines, even as membership in the U.S. and Europe has been shrinking. At the next General Conference in 2012, 40 percent of the delegates will likely be from outside the United States.

Source: General Council on Finance and Administration

Even so, the denomination’s Book of Discipline and the work of its general boards and agencies remain U.S.-focused.

“Can you understand the frustration experienced by…non-American delegates?,” Bishop Jones asked.

“They come all the way to the U.S. for a meeting and spend 12 days working on U.S. issues and paying little attention to things that matter [to] their own home conferences,” he said.

Bishop Jones said one task facing the Worldwide Nature committee is to make recommendations regarding which parts of the Book of Discipline should apply to all United Methodists and which parts should be “adaptable to local contexts.” The Discipline allows central conferences to make certain “changes and adaptations,” but the language is imprecise (see paragraphs ¶31.5 and ¶543.7) regarding the types of alterations that can be made, the bishop noted.

Our current situation is this: All of the Book of Discipline applies to [conferences in] the United States, [while] central conferences [i.e., outside the U.S.] can adapt portions of it…. I am going to ask four questions to which I do not know the answer….

  • Can a central conference — on principle — refuse to ordain women?
  • Can a central conference decide to ordain “self-avowed practicing homosexuals”?
  • Can a central conference amend the Social Principles?
  • Can a central conference ordain deacons only as a transitional stage toward ordination as a elder?…

[The Worldwide Nature study committee has determined] that a few things are so crucial to the worldwide unity of the church that they must always be decided on by the General Conference and that no variation among central conferences should be permitted.

The list begins with the Constitution, our Doctrinal Standards, doctrinal statements including the Social Principles (PDF), the mission statement, and basic descriptions of episcopacy, ordained ministry, and annual conferences….

We’ve agreed that issues of human sexuality, including ordination, must remain the responsibility of the General Conference. Further, we’re not proposing any new layers of bureaucracy….

[W]e’re working toward deeper connections throughout the church, greater local authority, and more equitable sharing of power and representation around the world…. But to claim this future we must remove a long list of blockages that are preventing us from moving forward….

It’s clear from the votes on the constitutional amendments that there needs to be a lot more conversation across the church to discern how best to live into that worldwide nature.

Bishop Jones argued that what that should tie United Methodism together around the world should not be an abundance of structural rules, but rather a relatively small number of requirements that directly relate to core doctrine and common mission.

Imagine a copy of the Book of Discipline that had only those things in it that would truly be applicable to every United Methodist conference in the world. What if we went back to the old name as the Doctrines and Discipline of the United Methodist Church?

You can listen to Bishop Jones’ 20-minute presentation, “The Worldwide Future of the United Methodist Church,” below — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3.

The text of his remarks, as prepared for delivery, is here (PDF).

Bishop Scott J. Jones, formerly a professor of Evangelism at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, is the episcopal leader of the Kansas East and Kansas West Conferences. He was elected to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 2004.

His books include:

Bishop Jones posts material on United Methodist doctrinal and theological issues at ExtremeCenter.com. The website of the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church is WorldwideUMC.org.

The Wesleyan Renewal Movement, the group to which Bishop Jones spoke, describes its purpose as seeking “to promote the election of delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences who are committed to ensuring the Book of Discipline and the election of bishops reflect [the] principles of Wesley and the Bible.”

The group sponsors a breakfast each June, concurrent with the yearly gathering of the North Georgia Annual Conference, the largest U.S. annual conference in the UMC.

Previous WRM breakfast speakers include Dr. Bill Bouknight, now an associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, and Dr. Jimmy Buskirk, founding dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Oral Roberts University.


Related posts

Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
After feedback from Bishop Palmer, UMNS revises amendments story
Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’

Related articles and information
UM Bishops announce defeat of global church and open membership amendments | Connor Ewing, Institute on Religion and Democracy (May 12, 2010)
Study Committee responds to constitutional amendment rejections | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (May 11, 2010)
Study Committee begins shaping report; focuses on ordained ministry standards | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (April 30, 2010)
Confessing Movement speaks to Worldwide Nature Study Committee (PDF—see page 5) | Patricia Miller, We Confess newsletter (November/December 2009)
Presentation to the Study Committee on the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church | Paul Stallsworth, Lifewatch (November 2009)
Letter to the Worldwide Nature Study Committee (PDF) | Karen Booth, Transforming Congregations (November 2009)
Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
New group will study church’s Worldwide Nature | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 3, 2009)
African Power: How 192 delegates saved Methodists from madness & other stories from the General Conference | Mark Tooley, Touchstone (November 2008)
2010 Lifewatch sermon: The once and future church (PDF)| Bishop Scott J. Jones, Lifewatch newsletter (March 1, 2010)
Presentation on the United Methodist Way (PDF)| Bishop Scott J. Jones, Convocation of Extended Cabinets (November 10, 2007)
Ten things every Christian ought to know (from a United Methodist point of view) (PDF) | Bishop Scott J. Jones

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers