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Transforming Congregations Respond To Judicial Council Ban On Conference "Naming"

Transforming 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 Congregations.

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)

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