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General Conference Issues - Christ Church, Memphis Barnabas Commitee Updates

The following is our latest Barnabas report which should be received this next week by our congregation.

The next few articles from your Barnabas Committee will be focusing on specific issues and resolutions that will be before General conference this coming May. We will continue to keep you up-to-date on other events affecting our denomination.

Update on California -Nevada

For background on this issue you can see http://umns.umc.org/00/feb/089.htm on the Internet. Since our last article two more bishops have spoken out concerning the Committee on Investigations decision that 67 clergy members of the California/Nevada Annual conference should not be brought to church trial for their participation last year in a service celebrating a same-gender union.

Bishop Marion M. Edwards of the North Carolina conference stated, ".The Church has stated as clearly as possible that 'ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.' In spite of this direct statement in our Church's Discipline, the Committee on Investigation in this one of our 66 annual conferences declined to refer the matter to church trial, so the complaints have been dropped. As a bishop, I am charged with upholding the doctrine, discipline and covenantal relationships of our Church. I stand in support of our Church's position on this issue. It is my view that the infraction of Church law by these 68 clergy is not a minor offense. The upcoming General conference must find ways to make certain that the will of the Church is not circumvented, that we hold one another accountable to the highest standards, and that persons throughout the denomination all accept the same rules. " Full text of statement can be found at http://www.goodnewsmag.org/the_latest/cal-nev030900.htm

In a periodic report to his conference entitled "Life in the Dakotas" Bishop Michael Coyner states, "To not even charge those pastors (which would have resulted in a trial in front of a jury of their peers) was to totally neglect the concept of accountability. Our United Methodist connectional system is not perfect. Our United Methodist Church is not in full agreement on the issue of homosexuality in general, and the issue of ceremonies to celebrate same-gender unions in particular. But when we allow our system of accountability to be ignored, we are in grave danger of losing the high standards for our clergy which we seek and which our congregations deserve." Full text can be found at http://ucmpage.org/news/ca_disobey_hearing11.html

Pastors Act

In an open letter to the California/Nevada Conference six pastors have expressed their concerns and a call for action. "It is clear that the decision of the committee on Investigation has manifested what some have feared. The California-Nevada Conference has ceased to function as a faithful expression of the United Methodist Church. We have been thrown into crisis. As elders, our charge includes ordering 'the life of the Church for mission and ministry.' (PARA 323, Book of Discipline, 1996) This charge includes providing leadership to broader expressions of the church beyond the local congregation.

With a deep sense of the sacred trust that is ours as elders in the United Methodist Church, we have opened an escrow account. This account will receive the apportionment payments of those congregations who seek to remain loyal to the United Methodist Church, and yet repudiate the rebellion of our Annual Conference leadership in their recent actions." http://www.goodnewsmag.org/the_latest/cal-nev03-13b-00.htm

General Conference Battle

From an article in The Columbus Dispatch an overview of what lies head for the three major American Protestant denominations at their upcoming conferences. (Go to http://libpub.dispatch.com and search for Gay's Role in Church article.) "In May, the (United Methodist's) General Conference's 996 delegates will meet in Cleveland, and gay issues will be a major topic. About 1800 petitions have been submitted, with homosexuality being the biggest issue, said Linda Green of the denomination's news service in Nashville, TN. The proposals include:

  • Retaining or striking current language, which says that while all people have worth, homosexuality is 'incompatible with Christian teaching.'
  • Removing the prohibition against performing same-sex unions, or giving clergy members discretion in presiding at them.
  • Lifting the ban on giving denominational money to gay groups or using such money to promote 'the acceptance of homosexuality'"

Bishops Call to Prayer

From a United Methodist News Service article "United Methodist bishops are asking church members to join them in a time of prayer and fasting beginning March 15, 40 days before the church's General Conference opens in Cleveland May 2. .. The bishops are calling on members to 'ask God to work through the General Conference and to guide the church in becoming more effective in its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ." http://www.umns.umc.org/00/mar/114.htm

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