- Published: May 7, 2017 May 7, 2017
In a letter published here, our new Bishop, Rev. Lawson Bryan, addressed an upcoming meeting of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church. In a 6-3 vote, the Judicial Counsel upheld the UM Book of Discipline. The 19-page decision that the consecration of an openly gay Bishop, married to another woman, is against church law places the Wester Jurisdiction on notice concerning their response. As I understand the ruling, the Western Jurisdiction acted illegally in electing to the office someone who isn’t qualified to serve as a Bishop of the entire Church, meaning she cannot serve since the office is part of more than just one conference or jurisdiction.
While not in their power to remove the Bishop, the Council’s decision requires action on the part of the Western Jurisdiction. Known for slow and empty responses to charges around the United Methodist view of human sexuality, we shall wait and see how this is handled by the group who elected and consecrated this person.
In the meantime, another group tasked with coming up with a plan for the future of the church works diligently to find middle ground or must we go our separate ways. According to the Website UMC.org, “The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.**”
The College of Bishops called for a Special gathering of the General Conference (made up of United Methodists from around the world) in Feb. 2019 strictly for taking action on the report of the Commission. No General Conference since 1972, when the issue of human sexuality first came before the church, has voted to change the orthodox stand we hold, that “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” (P304.3 BOD)
In the short term, none of this will mean much in the Ocilla and Irwinville UMCs, our South Central District, South Georgia Annual Conference or our Southeastern Jurisdiction. The long view would suggest major changes in the Church, though again not necessarily in our neighborhood, when and if the General Conference makes clear the Church’s stand on this issue. Then it becomes a matter for each of us, as we work through how this decision affects us.
I believe the Church, but a large majority of the delegates of the GC, will affirm the current language and position of the Church’s doctrine.
If you would like to talk with me about this or any other issue concerning the doctrine of the church, well that’s a major part of my presence here.