In her sermon on Sunday, March 3, Pastor Cheryl offered some follow-up and reflections on the Special General Conference that was held in February in St. Louis to discuss the United Methodist Church’s position in the Book of Discipline regarding sexual orientation, same-sex weddings in the church and the ordination of self-avowed, professing homosexuals.
A text and the video of that sermon is available on the church website (www.fwsumc.org).
The United Methodist News Service summarized the outcome in this way: “Bottom line: More than 53% of the multinational denomination’s top lawmaking body supported the Traditional Plan that reinforces the church’s bans on same-gender unions and ‘self-avowed practicing’ gay clergy. Still uncertain is how much of the legislation will take effect—or whether it will change the dynamic in places where a number of United Methodists, including entire annual conferences, openly defy these rules. Late afternoon Feb. 26, delegates requested a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan.”
She added that much of the Traditional Plan had been deemed unconstitutional prior to the conference, some portions of it were amended at the conference (some not) and at the end of the day, all of it (although legislatively passed by the conference) was referred to the Judicial Council (church’s Supreme Court) to determine constitutionality. The Judicial Council will meet the end of April and the parts that do pass constitutional muster will not take effect until January 1, 2020. What we can say is that nothing changed the current restrictive language in the Book of Discipline. Legislation was also approved to permit a “gracious exit” for those to leave the denomination with their buildings and assets, who cannot in good conscience abide by the decisions made. And because the regular quadrennial General Conference meets again in 2020, those on both sides of the issues are considering whether to leave the church or stay and continue affirming their positions… working to impact the election of delegates at annual conferences in June of this year, who will attend 2020 General Conference, which will have the authority to hash it all out again.
Pastor Cheryl reminds us that we have brothers and sisters in this congregation who out of faithfulness to Christ hold differing perspectives, who have friends and family members who are LGBTQ and who are LGBTQ and so we want to conduct ourselves with respect and love toward one another. She will keep us apprised as more information is known and anticipates facilitating continued discussion within the conversation.
Continue to keep all in prayer!