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Pro-homosexuality UM's Crank Up To Homosexualize The Denomination At Next General Conference


Fanning The Flames of Sodom and Gomorrah

 

 

Flashnet!

 

The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

 


RMN MISSION STATEMENT: Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice. 


 

 

1.       General Conference 2008 Planning

2.       Repealing All Prohibitory Language

3.       Becoming an “Aspirational” Reconciling Conference or Congregation

4.       IRD Promotes Anti-LGBT Legislation

5.       Let us pray with you

 


1.GENERAL CONFERENCE 2008 PLANNING

 

January 2007

 

From: RMN Staff & Board, Atlanta, Georgia

To: All Reconciling United Methodists, Churches, and Affiliated Organizations

Re: General Conference 2008 Planning

 

Over the course of the last two years, the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) has engaged in a series of informal and formal activities aimed at developing a proactive and focused strategy for General Conference 2008. These activities have included:

 

  1. Met regularly with Methodist Federation for Social Action, and other partners to develop general conference strategies.

  2. Attended preliminary meetings of Common Witness, the coalition of UMC progressive organizations, formed around general conference strategies.

  3. Requested information from RMN members through facilitated workshops at the Hearts on Fire Conference at Lake Junaluska.

 

From these activities a general consensus has emerged that RMN can and should play a greater leadership role in the development and implementation of a GC 2008 strategy focused on issues of lgbt inclusiveness.

 

I. Defining Success

 

Gibran Rivera of the Public Policy Institute in Washington, DC has offered some helpful advice about how to measure successes and failures during times of conservative advancement:

 

v      ADVANCEMENT – Successfully developing and carrying out an action agenda of based on clearly-articulated strategic goals and broadly-shared principles of inclusiveness.

v      RESISTANCE – Launching effective efforts aimed at derailing oppressive policies by pointing out inconsistencies in judgments and the ill effects associated with the opposition’s tactics.

v      BUILDING/CONSOLIDATION – Taking every opportunity, even in moments of adversity, to tell our story and thereby to reinvigorate current supporters and to invite newcomers to join in principled acts of solidarity.

 

In assessing our “wins” and “losses” at General Conference 2008, it may be helpful to keep these three criteria in mind because they allow us to evaluate our successes and failures on multiple levels rather than falling into the zero-sum game of legislative advances and losses.

 

II. Legislative Issues

 

In January of 2006, RMN and MFSA took the unprecedented early steps of introducing sample petitions around LGBT inclusiveness that were consequently adopted by several annual conferences.

 

1.     Repeal of All Prohibitory Language – As noted above, RMN and MFSA have provided annual conferences with sample petitions aimed at repealing all of the current prohibitive language in the Book of Discipline.

 

2.     Support for Marriage Equality or Civil Unions – RMN and MFSA have forwarded sample legislation that has been adopted by several annual conferences regarding support for same-sex civil unions.

 

3.     Legislative Response to JC Rulings #1032 & 1041 – The repeal of the Judicial Council rulings regarding the ability of a pastor to refuse membership to “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” likely will be the number one priority for RMN’s legislative efforts.

 

4.     Judicial Council Elections – There is a strong sense in some quarters that the majority on the Judicial Council has overstepped their authority by issuing rulings #1032 and #1041. In addition, JC members are elected in a plurality election that is more susceptible to effective coalitions of delegates.

 

5.     Amicable Separation/Schism – Though much of the initial energy around an “amicable separation” or schism that would split the UMC between conservatives and liberals has now seemingly abated, some members of conservative groups continue to support this outcome as a strategic goal.

 

The majority of proposed GC legislation has yet to be submitted. This means that a full assessment of likely legislative issues can not be complete until July or August of 2007.

 

III. Strategies to Consider

 

A. Pre-Conference Strategies

 

1.     Recruiting & Election of Delegates – Working with Annual Conferences to elect progressive delegates

 

2.     Mailings to Delegates and Other Opinion Leaders – Following the elections, send mailings on inclusiveness to delegates

 

3.     Coalition-Building Efforts – RMN will continue to work with other progressive organizations to support their legislative efforts and witness at GC 2008.

 

B. Legislative Committee Organizing (First Week)

 

During the first week of General Conference, RMN will focus its strategy on the legislative committees that will deal primarily with issues related to LGBT inclusiveness.

 

C. Plenary Strategies (Second Week)

Prior to floor debates RMN will work with progressive and inclusiveness-leaning delegates to secure their votes and recruit delegates to speak to pertinent pieces of legislation taken up on the plenary floor.

 

D. Post Conference Strategies

 

With so many issues and factors still up in the air, it is difficult to speculate about RMN’s post General Conference Strategies. This section serves as a “place-holder” or reminder that such a strategy needs to be developed.

 

IV. What You Can Do

 

1.     Run as a general conference delegate or help support someone else’s election – Think strategically about who has the best chance to be elected and can best represent the goals of RMN as well as other supportive organizations like Methodist Federation for Social Action. Help elect supportive and progressive delegates of color.

 

2.     Volunteer or help us locate a RMN GC 2008 liaison/organizer – The liaison/organizer will help support those who choose to run for election and then observe the meetings of the GC delegation from your area, and communicate with the RMN Office.

 

3.     Contribute financially or help to raise funds from your church or conference for the GC effort – We anticipate that this will be RMN’s most expensive General Conference ever as we work to make our message heard.

 

4.     Attend the Faith, Hope, Love RMN Convocation in Nashville August 2-5, 2007 – This will provide an excellent opportunity to become informed, get trained, and prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for the work to come.

 

5.     Volunteer to be a part of RMN’s Working Team at GC 2008 – In addition to those elected as delegates; RMN will need 20-30 volunteers to assist with our GC 2008 legislative strategy efforts in Fort Worth.

 

6.     Discern your participation in RMN’s Witness for a fully inclusive church at GC 2008—Hundreds of Reconciling United Methodists bring visibility and voice daily throughout General Conference.

 


2. REPEALING ALL PROHIBITORY LANGUAGE

 

You may still access resolutions released January 30, 2006 at http://www.rmnetwork.org/flashnet/fn060130.php. Refinement of the resolutions continues and several annual conferences have adapted the text for their region. RMN encourages you to put forward petitions to repeal prohibitory language in your annual conference as well.

 

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A. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Expand the Support of People in Committed Unions, including Marriage

 

Whereas, the Church welcomes into membership “all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition” [Constitution Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution “acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection” [Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Judicial Council affirms that “status” in the Constitution includes heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, the Church proudly proclaims “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” as an intentional “Diversity Expression” that “anyone to attend, wherever they are on the journey toward finding a spiritual home” (www.ignitingministry.org/advertising/diversity.aspx); and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by refusing membership and full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status; and

 

Whereas, the Discipline does not limit membership or participation of laity based on relationship status, whether single or coupled, or based on sexual orientation status; and

 

Whereas, the church recognizes, supports and welcomes diverse families and committed relationships;

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the _______________ Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to amend ¶161C of the Discipline, as follows:

 

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant or committed union that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between two adult persons. We believe that God's blessing rests upon such covenants and commitments, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage or committed union.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

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B. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Amend ¶161G of the Discipline to Remove the Incompatibility Clause And To Encourage Civil Authorities To Ensure Rights Of All Persons In Committed Unions, Including Marriage

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church requires inclusiveness: AThe United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection@ [Article IV: AInclusiveness of the Church@]; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by claiming that a person because of their nature, sexual orientation, or because of the characteristic by which we identify them, must live a life less than whole or separated from all of God’s gifts; and

 

Whereas, we acknowledge that refusing full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status is inconsistent with the Constitution; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirms that Astatus@ includes Asexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered@ [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, at the core of Wesley’s doctrine, as reflected in the Articles and Confessions in United Methodist doctrine is a belief that only God’s prevenient grace is a means to our salvation; and

 

Whereas, the Discipline does not support a sole or static “Christian teaching.” A presumption of the “incompatibility clause” contradicts Wesleyan principles and tradition as well as provisions in the Discipline; and

 

Whereas, Part II of the Discipline that recounts the denomination’s evolution, doctrinal standards and theological task makes it clear that our tradition and principles are not fixed in time or static:

 

          •   Our forbears in the faith reaffirmed the ancient Christian message as found in the apostolic witness even as they applied it anew in their own circumstances.

 

          •   Their preaching and teaching were grounded in Scripture, informed by Christian tradition, enlivened in experience, and tested by reason.

 

          •   United Methodists share a common heritage with Christians of every age and nation.

 

          •   Various doctrinal statements in the form of creeds, confessions of belief, and articles of faith were officially adopted by churches as standards of Christian teaching.

 

          •   The standards themselves initially emerged from a much wider body of Christian thought and practice, and their fuller significance unfolded in the writings of the church’s teachers. Some writings have proved simply to be dated benchmarks in the story of the church’s continuing maturation.

 

          •   We affirm the general ministry of all baptized Christians who share responsibility for building up the church and reaching out in mission and service to the world.

 

          •   With other Christians, we declare the essential oneness of the church in Jesus Christ. This rich heritage of shared Christian belief finds expression in our hymnody and liturgies.

 

          •   Nourished by common roots of this shared Christian heritage, the branches of Christ’s church have developed diverse traditions that enlarge our store of shared understandings. Our avowed ecumenical commitment as United Methodists is to gather our own doctrinal emphases into the larger Christian unity, there to be made more meaningful in a richer whole.

 

          •   Wesley rejected undue reliance upon these [General Rules]. Discipline was not church law; it was a way of discipleship. Wesley insisted that true religion is “the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus,” “the life which is hid with Christ in God,” and “the righteousness that [the true believer] thirsts after.”

 

          •   While it is true that United Methodists are fixed upon certain religious affirmations, grounded in the gospel and confirmed in their experience, they also recognize the right of Christians to disagree on matters such as forms of worship, structures of church government, modes of Baptism, or theological explorations. They believe such differences to not break the bond of fellowship that ties Christians together in Jesus Christ. Wesley’s familiar dictum was, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”

 

          •   This living core, [“marrow” of Christian truth], stands revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal and corporate experience, and confirmed by reason. They were very much aware, of course, that God’s eternal Word never has been, nor can be, exhaustively expressed in any single form of words.

 

          •   Methodist interest in formal doctrinal standards remained secondary to evangelism, nurture and mission.

 

[¶101, Discipline, pp. 41-49; ¶102, Discipline, pp. 50-55].

 

Whereas, “Christian teaching” cannot be defined in one way, fully known or settled, or applied as an “absolute” to judge members or clergy in cases that do not strike at the heart of knowledge of God in Christ; and

 

Whereas, the Articles Of Religion, Confession Of Faith Of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and The General Rules Of the Methodist Church are silent as to the status of sexual orientation of members and clergy. Indeed, they affirm the sufficiency of God’s grace alone; and

 

Whereas, Bigotry is contrary to the Wesleyan doctrinal tradition, because it moves from enthusiasm and zeal for non-essential opinions into direct and indirect forms of forbidding God’s spirit alive in the world. Wesley defined bigotry as “too strong an attachment to, or fondness for, our own party, opinion, church, and religion” such that we forbid the ministry of those God blesses:

 

He followeth us not ... may mean ... he differs from us in our religious opinions. ... We do not find that even [the Apostles themselves] … were ever brought to think alike, to be of one mind … It is therefore no way surprising that infinite varieties of opinion should now be found in the Christian church....[O]ne that … “followeth not us” – that is not of our opinion....may very probably think in a different manner from us, even on several subjects of importance; such as the nature and use of the moral law, the eternal decrees of God, the sufficiency and efficacy of his grace, and the perseverance of his children....If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto.

 

[A Caution Against Bigotry: Sermon 38]; and

 

Whereas, the Church has committed in Section 161(G) of the evolving Social Principles to recognize the emerging body of knowledge concerning human sexuality, which demonstrates that sexual orientation is a natural human state that naturally encompasses, and cannot fairly be separated from, loving expressions of human sexuality. For example, in 2003, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Association of Social Workers – after Judicial Decisions 702 and 845 were decided in 1993 and 1998 respectively – citing a vast body of empirical, medical and learned authorities, submitted two propositions (among others) to the United States Supreme Court in support of the gay petitioners in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003): (1) homosexuality is a normal form of human sexuality; and (2) suppressing sexual intimacy among same-sex partners would deprive gay men and lesbians the opportunity to participate in fundamental aspects of human experience; and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to amend ¶161G of the Discipline, as follows, delineated by the text in bold and underlined:

 

We recognize that sexuality is God's good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society. We call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift. We also recognize our limited understanding of this complex gift and encourage the medical, theological, and social science disciplines to combine in a determined effort to understand human sexuality more completely. We call the Church to take the leadership role in bringing together these disciplines to address this most complex issue. Further, within the context of our understanding of this gift of God, we recognize that God challenges us to find responsible, committed, and loving forms of expression.

 

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are in committed relationships including marriage, we believe sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the bond of marriage or committed union. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.

 

We deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sex, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. We call for the establishment of adequate protective services, guidance, and counseling opportunities for children thus abused. We insist that all persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured. We encourage civil authorities to enact laws that will ensure full civil and economic rights for persons in committed unions including marriages without regard to the gender of the partners.

 

We recognize the continuing need for full, positive, age-appropriate and factual sex education opportunities for children, young people, and adults. The Church offers a unique opportunity to give quality guidance and education in this area.

 

Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance 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. [delete: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian Teaching.”] We affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. 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.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

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C.Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Expand Civil Rights

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness@]; and

 

Whereas, the Church supports, welcomes and includes diverse families; and

 

Whereas, the Church seeks to support human rights and civil liberties for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to amend ¶162H of the Discipline, as follows:

 

Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting rightful claims where two people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, care of children, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law. Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

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D. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Ensure Equal Access to Church Membership Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

 

Whereas, the Church welcomes into membership “all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition” [Constitution Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution “acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection” [Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Judicial Council affirms that “status” in the Constitution includes heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, the Council of Bishops unanimously affirm that “homosexuality is not a barrier” to membership, that “the General Conference has clearly spoken through the denomination’s Constitution on inclusiveness and justice for all as it relates to church membership,” and that “God’s grace is available to all” [Discipline 161G], and that we “seek to live together in Christian community, … implore[ing] families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends … [and] commit[ing] ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons” [Episcopal Letter, November 2, 2005]; and

 

Whereas, the Church proudly proclaims “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” as an intentional “Diversity Expression” that “anyone to attend, wherever they are on the journey toward finding a spiritual home” (www.ignitingministry.org/advertising/diversity.aspx); and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by refusing membership and full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status; and

 

Whereas, the Discipline does not limit membership of laity based on relationship status, whether single or coupled, or based on sexual orientation status; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirms that AAnnual Conferences are free to express their ideals and opinions@ prohibiting the denial of membership to self-avowed practicing homosexuals as long as those ideals and opinions Ado not attempt to negate, ignore or contradict the Discipline@ [JCD 1052]; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirmed Athe right of all persons Y after appropriate vows, to be admitted to membership in any local church in the connection@ [JCD 255]; and

 

Whereas, General Conference reaffirms inclusive church membership that is Aopen to all persons@ [Discipline Par. 124 and 214, echoing Article IV of the Constitution]; and

 

Whereas, no legislative pronouncement in the Discipline can properly be determined to mandate less than including Aall persons@ in membership and full participation of the Church [Constitution Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Discipline should be clarified to conform in statement and practice with Article IV of the Constitution of the United Methodist Chruch; and

 

Whereas, the _______________ Conference affirms that all people should recognize that the United Methodist Church is truly welcoming to people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will petition the 2008 General Conference to amend paragraph 214 of the Discipline to insert the following sentence after the words "in any local church in the connection" (Par. 4): No person shall or will be excluded from membership in the United Methodist Church for reasons related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

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E. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Remove Chargeable Offenses from The Discipline

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church requires inclusiveness: AThe United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection@ [Article IV: AInclusiveness of the Church@]; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by claiming that a person because of their nature, sexual orientation, or because of the characteristic by which we identify them, must live a life less than whole or separated from all of God’s gifts; and

 

Whereas, we acknowledge that refusing full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status is inconsistent with the Constitution; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirms that Astatus@ includes Asexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered@ [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, at the core of Wesley’s doctrine, as reflected in the Articles and Confessions in United Methodist doctrine is a belief that only God’s prevenient grace is a means to our salvation; and

 

Whereas, the Discipline does not support a sole or static “Christian teaching.” The presumption of the “incompatibility clause” found in 161(G) contradicts Wesleyan principles and tradition as well as provisions in the Discipline as demonstrated in Part II of the Discipline [¶101, Discipline, pp. 41-49; ¶102, Discipline, pp. 50-55]; and

 

Whereas, “Christian teaching” cannot be defined in one way, fully known or settled, or applied as an “absolute” to judge members or clergy in cases that do not strike at the heart of knowledge of God in Christ; and

 

Whereas, the Articles Of Religion, Confession Of Faith Of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and The General Rules Of the Methodist Church are silent as to the status of sexual orientation of members and clergy. Indeed, they affirm the sufficiency of God’s grace alone; and

 

Whereas, Bigotry is contrary to the Wesleyan doctrinal tradition, and Wesley defined bigotry as “too strong an attachment to, or fondness for, our own party, opinion, church, and religion” such that we forbid the ministry of those God blesses [A Caution Against Bigotry: Sermon 38]; and

 

Whereas, the Church has committed in Section 161(G) of the evolving Social Principles to recognize the emerging body of knowledge concerning human sexuality, which demonstrates that sexual orientation is a natural human state that naturally encompasses, and cannot fairly be separated from, loving expressions of human sexuality. For example, in 2003, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Association of Social Workers – after Judicial Decisions 702 and 845 were decided in 1993 and 1998 respectively – citing a vast body of empirical, medical and learned authorities, submitted two propositions (among others) to the United States Supreme Court in support of the gay petitioners in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003): (1) homosexuality is a normal form of human sexuality; and (2) suppressing sexual intimacy among same-sex partners would deprive gay men and lesbians the opportunity to participate in fundamental aspects of human experience; and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that, consistent passage of a Petition to Amend 161G, The Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to Amend ¶2702, item 1b, of the Discipline as follows:

 

1.  A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶368), local pastor,14 clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶ 2702.4)* The statute of limitations went into effect as law on a prospective basis starting on January 1, 1993. All alleged offenses that occurred prior to this date are time barred. * 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, [delete: “including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies];***(c) crime; (d) failure to perform the work of the ministry; (e) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church; (f) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (g) relationships and/or behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor;16 (h) child abuse;** (i) sexual abuse;17 (j) sexual misconduct** or (k) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or sexual harassment; or (l) racial or gender discrimination.18

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

---

F. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Remove Discriminatory Language Around Homosexuality and Ordination

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church requires inclusiveness:: AThe United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection@ [Article IV: AInclusiveness of the Church@]; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by claiming that a person because of their nature, sexual orientation, or because of the characteristic by which we identify them, must live a life less than whole or separated from all of God’s gifts; and

 

Whereas, the “incompatibility clause” found in Section 161(G) of the Discipline is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Church;

 

Whereas, we acknowledge that refusing full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status is inconsistent with the Constitution; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirms that Astatus@ includes Asexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered@ [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, “Christian teaching” cannot be defined in one way, fully known or settled, or applied as an “absolute” to judge members or clergy in cases that do not strike at the heart of knowledge of God in Christ; and

 

Whereas, the Articles Of Religion, Confession Of Faith Of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and The General Rules Of the Methodist Church are silent as to the status of sexual orientation of members and clergy. Indeed, they affirm the sufficiency of God’s grace alone; and

 

Whereas, the Church has committed in Section 161(G) of the evolving Social Principles to recognize the emerging body of knowledge concerning human sexuality, which demonstrates that sexual orientation is a natural human state that naturally encompasses, and cannot fairly be separated from, loving expressions of human sexuality. For example, in 2003, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Association of Social Workers – after Judicial Decisions 702 and 845 were decided in 1993 and 1998 respectively – citing a vast body of empirical, medical and learned authorities, submitted two propositions (among others) to the United States Supreme Court in support of the gay petitioners in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003): (1) homosexuality is a normal form of human sexuality; and (2) suppressing sexual intimacy among same-sex partners would deprive gay men and lesbians the opportunity to participate in fundamental aspects of human experience; and

 

Whereas, the United Methodist Church values all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and truly welcomes all of those called into ministry; and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the _______________ Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to Amend ¶304, item 3 of the Discipline, as follows:

 

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. [delete: “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.”]

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

---

G. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Remove Discriminatory Language Around Homosexual Unions

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church takes precedence over all legislative pronouncements contained in the Book of Discipline; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United Methodist Church requires inclusiveness:: AThe United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection@ [Article IV: AInclusiveness of the Church@]; and

 

Whereas, our Doctrinal statement further explains that AInclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination@ [Discipline Section 138: ACalled to Inclusiveness,@ taking precedence over legislative pronouncements]; and

 

Whereas, we commit discrimination and violate the Constitution and Doctrinal provisions of the Church by claiming that a person because of their nature, sexual orientation, or because of the characteristic by which we identify them, must live a life less than whole or separated from all of God’s gifts; and

 

Whereas, we acknowledge that refusing full participation in the Church to persons of homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status is inconsistent with the Constitution; and

 

Whereas, the Church affirms that Astatus@ includes Asexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered@ [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, “Christian teaching” cannot be defined in one way, fully known or settled, or applied as an “absolute” to judge members or clergy in cases that do not strike at the heart of knowledge of God in Christ; and

 

Whereas, the Articles Of Religion, Confession Of Faith Of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and The General Rules Of the Methodist Church are silent as to the status of sexual orientation of members and clergy. Indeed, they affirm the sufficiency of God’s grace alone; and

 

Whereas, the Church has committed in Section 161(G) of the evolving Social Principles to recognize the emerging body of knowledge concerning human sexuality, which demonstrates that sexual orientation is a natural human state that naturally encompasses, and cannot fairly be separated from, loving expressions of human sexuality. For example, in 2003, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Association of Social Workers – after Judicial Decisions 702 and 845 were decided in 1993 and 1998 respectively – citing a vast body of empirical, medical and learned authorities, submitted two propositions (among others) to the United States Supreme Court in support of the gay petitioners in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003): (1) homosexuality is a normal form of human sexuality; and (2) suppressing sexual intimacy among same-sex partners would deprive gay men and lesbians the opportunity to participate in fundamental aspects of human experience; and

 

Whereas, the United Methodist Church values all people, families and relationships, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; and

 

Whereas, the United Methodist Church values all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and truly welcomes all of those called into ministry; and

 

Whereas, John Wesley preached that the church is the means of dispensing the grace of God to all who seek it, echoing the welcome we find throughout Scripture:

 

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you.” [Romans 15:7]

 

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” [Mark 10:14]

 

“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” [1 Corinthians 12:13a]

 

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28]

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:35];

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that, the Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to Delete ¶341, item 6 of the Discipline in its entirety, which states as follows: “Ceremonies shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

---

H. Petition to 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to Remove Prohibition of Promoting Acceptance of All People

 

Whereas, by proclaiming “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” The United Methodist Church intentionally seeks to Ignite Ministries by expressing its diversity, “communicating the myriad beliefs and cultural diversity of the church [www.ignitingministry.org/advertising/diversity.aspx]; and

 

Whereas, the funding ban, from General Conference 1986 [http://www.rmnetwork.org/history.php], precedes and contradicts the Igniting Ministries decision of 2000, denying diverse beliefs already in and beyond the church; and

 

Whereas, the valued diversity of today’s church remains consistent with “The Character of a Methodist” – But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist. – John Wesley; and

 

Whereas, the Constitution “acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian Faith, become professing members of any local church in the connection” [Article IV]; and

 

Whereas, the Judicial Council affirms that “status” in the Constitution includes heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender status [JCD 1020]; and

 

Whereas, the Council of Bishops unanimously affirm that “homosexuality is not a barrier” to membership, that “the General Conference has clearly spoken through the denomination’s Constitution on inclusiveness and justice for all as it relates to church membership,” and that “God’s grace is available to all” [Discipline 161G], and that we “seek to live together in Christian community, … implore[ing] families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends … [and] commit[ing] ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons” [Episcopal Letter, November 2, 2005];

 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the _______________ Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will prepare a petition the 2008 General Conference to Delete ¶806, item 9 of the Discipline, in its entirety, which states as follows: “The General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church] shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures. This restriction shall not limit the Church’s ministry in response to the HIV epidemic.”

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that at the close of the 2007 Annual Conference Session, proposed language in the Book of Discipline in the above-described paragraph, modified according to the text delineated in bold and underlined type, shall be formatted and submitted by the Annual Conference Secretary to comply with deadlines and submission requirements for consideration at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 


3. BECOMING AN ASPIRATIONAL RECONCILING CHURCH OR CONFERENCE

 

The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church in Decision 1044 ruled that Annual Conferences can be hopeful and aspire to model full inclusion in the life of the church. The Judicial Council affirmed this Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference resolution:

 

Be it resolved that the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of the [sic] United Methodist Church believes that Judicial Council Decision 1032 is inconsistent with Christian teachings, and contrary to the United Methodist Church Constitution; and

 

Be it FURTHER resolved, that from this day forward, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference will model inclusive behavior by expecting and encouraging its congregations and clergy to abide by the principle: Membership in any local church in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference shall not be denied on the basis of race, color, national origin, economic condition, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, ability or disability, or any other status.”

 

Bishop Schol noted that this “legislation is a hope of the annual conference.”

 

Reconciling United Methodists understand that the work of inclusion is never done. It is always an unfinished process. After congregations and communities officially declare their welcome for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, the aspiration, the hope to be fully inclusive must continue to be nurtured. The process continues.

 

Decision 1044 allows UM people to continue the process in hope—to declare openly your intention to model inclusiveness. Is your Annual Conference or Congregation ready to declare their hope?

 

For the full decision:

http://archives.umc.org/interior_judicial.asp?mid=263&JDID=1123&JDMOD=VWD&SN=1001&EN=1061

 


4. IRD PROMOTES ANTI-LGBT UM LEGISLATION

 

Our work continues to be urgent. The Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD) continues to attack the leaders and agencies of The United Methodist Church. This non-Methodist, well-funded political group has issued sample legislation (links below).

 

If you are not aware of the IRD and their efforts harming our United Methodist Church, we recommend you read and/or offer a study in your congregation of either:

 

United Methodism at Risk: A Wake-Up Call, by Leon Howell, The Genesis III Group. To order: The Genesis III Group, P.O. Box 336, Deerfield, NH 03037

Toll Free Phone: (888) 829-2947, Fax: (603) 463-5621 E-Mail: genthree@genesisthree.com.

 

Playing Hardball on Holy Ground: The Religious Right v. The Mainline for the Church’s Soul, by Stephen Zwecker, Boston Wesleyan Association.

 

Affirming Important Ministries

http://www.ird-renew.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=fvKVLfMVIsG&b=2439547&ct=3490061

 

In Support of Marriage

http://www.ird-renew.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=fvKVLfMVIsG&b=2439547&ct=3489631

 

On the Integrity of Membership in the United Methodist Church

http://www.ird-renew.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=fvKVLfMVIsG&b=436199&ct=3500821

 


5. LET US PRAY WITH YOU

 

Please let us be part of your support and let us know how we might help. One way is to let us pray for you.

 

We invite you to send your prayer requests to us and be counted in the weekly offering of joys and concerns. You may call (773-736-5526), write (RMN 3801 N. Keeler Ave. Chicago, IL 60641) or email these requests to prayer@rmnetwork.org.

 

“Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God” ~ Luke 6:12

 


The Reconciling Ministries Network is a national network of United Methodist-focused organizations advocating for the full inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the life of the Church. Founded in 1984, RMN consists of 228 United Methodist congregations, 28 campus ministries, 39 Reconciling Communities, and over 18,000 individuals. Organizations involved include the Parents' Reconciling Network, Reconciling Ministries Clergy, United Methodists of Color, and RMN's student movement, MOSAIC. For additional information you may contact the Reconciling Ministries Network office at:

 

Reconciling Ministries Network

3801 North Keeler Avenue – Third Floor

Chicago, IL 60641-3007

 

773.736.5526 Phone

773.736.5475 Fax

 

Email: rmn@RMNetwork.org

Visit us on the web at www.RMNetwork.org.

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