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New England Methodists
Oppose Reconciling Conference Proposal

Cranberry Cluster of the Metropolitan Boston South District Inclusiveness Resolution

BE IT RESOLVED: The New England Conference refrains from adopting any new title such as "Reconciling Conference" or "Transforming Conference." The New England Conference deplores and condemns discrimination and other actions based on bigotry and hatred against any person or group, and encourages its clergy and laity to speak and act against such prejudice. The New England Conference affirms its adherence to The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, and to the Social Principles contained therein. We commit ourselves to further prayerful study of the Holy Scriptures and our Social Principles. The New England Conference encourages ministries which help all persons, whether confident in or struggling with their sexual orientation or expression, to "experience the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self." (Book of Discipline, 65 G)

RATIONALE: The Book of Discipline affirms that "Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. ...Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider it incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons." (65 G) The Book of Discipline calls United Methodists to be inclusive (117), to work against coercion of homosexuals and former homosexuals (66 H), and to follow Wesley's model of engagement in theological reflection on the Christian faith, as "... revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason." The Book of Discipline further affirms a Wesleyan understanding that in this process "Scripture is primary..." (63) The scriptures witness to God's work in our lives using the profound theological words "reconciliation" and "transformation," "...God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds..." (2 Corinthians 5:18 and Romans 12:2 NRSV). In the context of the homosexuality debate within the United Methodist Church, the words "reconciling" and "transforming" carry potentially divisive, exclusionary and political baggage beyond their dictionary and scriptural meanings. For example, to cite The Reconciling Congregation Program's own Historical Introduction, "The Reconciling Congregation Program is a movement of churches and individuals who are working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in our denomination. Full inclusion includes rights to ordination and to covenant services for same-gender couples." The New England Conference views itself as an inclusive conference. The use of any adjective attached to our Annual Conference name, especially a word so politically charged and identified so closely with one faction in the present denominational debate on homosexuality, limits our definition of who we are and diminishes our attempts to include all persons as we minister in the name of Christ.

HISTORY: The Cranberry Cluster hosted a "No Longer Strangers" workshop, evaluated the participants' responses, voted to oppose the Reconciling Conference Resolution (RS-106), corresponded with the Subcommittee on Reconciling Ministries, and approved this resolution.

Rev. Ted Brandt
16 School Street
Middleborough, MA 02346
Phone/fax 508-947-1299

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