Transforming Congregations Respond To Judicial Council Ban On
Congregations tentatively supports the ruling of the Judicial Council until we have a
chance to examine the full decision when it becomes available. It is time to end the
political battle over homosexuality in the United Methodist Church and turn to ministry.
Twenty to thirty annual conferences have been divided over this issue of Reconciling or
Transforming Conferences. Each dollar spent trying to influence these decisions is a
dollar taken away from ministry to those who are struggling with homosexual behavior and
feelings. Instead of endless debates, let us sit down to discuss how we might best
minister to those in need within the United Methodist Discipline.
The following article will run in our next issue, October-December of Transforming
Judicial Council Prohibits Both
Transforming and Reconciling Conferences
In a surprise ruling, as we go to press, the United Methodist Judicial Council has
ruled that conferences may not designate themselves as "reconciling,"
"transforming" or "confessing." This reverses an earlier decision
which allowed the Wisconsin Annual Conference to declare itself "reconciling" by
a narrow vote, as well as one permitting the Commission on Christian Unity and
Interreligious Concerns to become a "reconciling commission." This would seem to
apply to transforming conferences which vote to approve The Discipline. They stated,
"A vote to approve implies the power to disapprove and is therefore not
permissible." Annual Conferences do not have the authority to change The Discipline.
It is not immediately clear if this decision applies to local churches declaring
themselves either reconciling, transforming or confessing. Also the California-Pacific
Annual Conference declared itself "welcoming," and it is not clear whether or
not the decision prohibits this since that was not directly tied to an "unofficial
movement." The term, "welcoming" is frequently used ecumenically in the
reconciling movement. The Judicial Council said, "Such identification or labeling is
divisive and makes the official bodies of the church subject to the possibility of being
in conflict with the Discipline and doctrines of the United Methodist Church." (taken
in part from United Methodist News Service)