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Pro-homosexuality Clergy Accountability Ruled "Out of Order" at Annual Meeting


From: Business Summary, 2003 Annual Conference

Conference Statistics
   Annual Conference Secretary Rev. Charles Shelquist reported that the IGRAC is comprised of 955 local churches, divided into 617 pastoral charges. The Conference holds the church membership of 1,109 clergy members. Lay membership is 159,658, down 4,837 over the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 78,654, down 1,670. The 2002 Statistical Tables report a Grand Total Paid of $105,842,705, up 1.90% from the previous year...

Resolution 202, Reconciling United Methodists Pastors of the IGRAC, ruled out of order.

Resolution 202
   On Thursday, two resolutions brought to the Annual Conference, which dealt with the controversial issue of homosexuality were ruled “out of order” by Bishop Christopher, who ruled they conflicted with The Book of Discipline and the Constitution of The United Methodist Church.
   The resolutions were targeted at people who have identified themselves with the Reconciling Ministries Network, which seeks to change current UM policies regarding homosexuality.
   Resolution 202 called upon the bishop and superintendents to initiate what it called “accountability procedures with those IGRAC pastors who call themselves The Reconciling United Methodists of the IGRAC that will insure adherence to their ordination vows.” In response, the Bishop issued the following response:
   Resolution 202 requests the bishop and district superintendents to initiate “accountability” procedures with those IGRC pastors who call themselves The Reconciling United Methodists of the IGRC.
   The resolution calls for an additional process beyond the annual review that is already conducted and reported to the annual conference in open session. Additionally, the resolution makes a request of the bishop and cabinet to initiate these proceeding even though the makers of the motion claim to have information which they heretofore have not shared through the complaint process outlined in Para. 359 of The Book of Discipline (2000) and against persons who have not been named.
   In Para. 359, a process of accountability is afforded anyone, lay or clergy, who believes that the actions taken by an clergyperson violate The Book of Discipline. Similarly, Para.2702.3 outlines a process of accountability afforded anyone, lay or clergy, who believes that the actions taken by any layperson violate The Book of Discipline. Further, The Book of Discipline in Para. 605.6 outlines an annual clergy accountability process, the results of which are reported to the annual conference in open sesssion.
   Not liking disciplinary processes or believing they are ineffective does not give an individual or a confernce permission to create new ones. Any member or conference of The United Methodist Church may petition the General Conference for change in any disciplinary process.
   If the makers of the motion wish for their concerns to be addressed, they may petition the General Conference for changes in disciplinary procedure in keeping with Para. 507 of The Book of Discipline, 2000, or follow the disciplinary complaint process (Para. 359), outlining and enumerating specific complaint against specific pastors.
   Ruling: Resolution 202 is out of order

Resolution 203, Reconciling United Methodists of the IGRAC, ruled out of order.

Resolution 203
   Resolution 203 called for the IGRAC, “not to allow any participation by the Reconciling United Methodists of the IGRAC in the programs, ministries and activities of the IGRAC, including Annual Conference and local churches.”
   Previous rulings have barred congregations from identifying themselves as either “Reconciling” or “Transforming.” Transforming ministries stress that homosexuality is inherently sinful and that homosexuals can and should seek to change their sexual behavior and orientation. However, the Bishop interpreted the scope of this resolution to extend to the restriction of activities by individuals as well as congregations. In response, she made the following ruling:
   Resolution 203 seeks to deny participation to persons called Reconciling United Methodists from the programs, ministries and activities of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and its local churches.
   The merits of Resolution 203 must be examined against the constitution of The United Methodist Church. Article 4 of the constitution found in Paragraph 4 of The Book of Discipline, 2000, affords constitutional protection to the right of all persons, not limited to the members of The United Methodist Church, to participate in the life of The United Methodist Church. It reads “Therefore all persons…shall be eligible to attend its worship services, to participate in its programs, and when they take the appropriate vows, to be admitted into any local church in the connection.” Therefore, neither an annual conference nor a local church can deny anyone, including members in good standing in the conference or the local churches of the conference, participation in its programs, ministries, and activities.
   Excluding anyone from participation in the life of The United Methodist Church is not allowable by the constitution of The United Methodist Church.
   Ruling: Resolution 203 is out of order.

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