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Anti-christian Homofest OK Because Participants Baptized

Contact: Cintia Furtado
SEJ Communications Specialist
Office: 828 452-2881 Ext: 730
Fax: 828 452-1956
Email: cfurtado@sejumc.org

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2005

A Statement to The United Methodists of the Southeastern Jurisdiction from the Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council

We are committed to obey the Constitution of The United Methodist Church, which says, paragraph 4 Article IV – Inclusiveness of the Church "The United Methodist Church is a part of the church universal, which is one body in Christ.  The 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 in any local church in the connection. In The United Methodist Church no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, status or economic condition.”   Those who are interested may like to see Judicial Council decisions concerning this.

We cannot exclude baptized professing members of The United Methodist Church from Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, which belongs to The United Methodist Church. 

As you are aware heated controversy has developed that has focused on stern criticism and the possible boycott of Lake Junaluska by some.  There has been a mass mail/email distribution regarding the “Hearts on Fire” conference requesting pastors, members and churches not to send apportionments and advising them on how to do so. 

The truth related to funding is that Lake Junaluska is indeed a United Methodist conference center under the direction of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council.  It is one of the centers of ministry for the SEJ that is required to generate its own income in order to do its work.   The conference center actually contributes from its income to the total budget of the Administrative Council.

To withhold local church payments for the “Jurisdictional Administrative Fund” would cut funding from the ministries of the seven SEJ agencies:

  • Intentional Growth Center (IGC)
  • SEJ Agency for Native American Ministries (SEJANAM)
  • Gulfside Assembly
  • Southeastern United Methodist Agency for Rehabilitation (SEMAR)
  • Hinton Rural Life Center
  • United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM)
  • SEJ Commission on Archives and History

In addition to the SEJ agencies, withholding local church payments of the Jurisdictional Administrative Fund will reduce funding for the SEJAC Ministry Team that provides programs and support at Lake Junaluska and around the Jurisdiction; and will limit the SEJ in paying for the costs of the 2008 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

The following is a statement we have been sharing with persons who have inquired about the “Hearts on Fire” event:

Lake Junaluska, as a Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference Assembly, serves over 100,000 persons a year with its facilities and grounds providing a place of Christian hospitality for spiritual enrichment, study, and reflection. Our hope is that persons who use Lake Junaluska leave more committed followers of Jesus Christ.

The Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council (SEJAC) affirms the Social Principles in the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. It is our desire to serve the entire United Methodist Church (UMC) living and promoting the mission "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ" and desiring to practice and lift up the church's commitment to "Open hearts, open minds and open doors."

In 2004 Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) contacted us regarding their "Hearts on Fire" conference and asked to rent housing and meeting space at Lake Junaluska. We researched their request and found RMN to be an Affiliated Caucus (2005 United Methodist Directory pgs 198-201) of The United Methodist Church. RMN is made up of a broad cross section of The United Methodist Church. They plan to host many United Methodist leaders during their event. 

We understand a majority of the participants in the conference will be heterosexual. We also discovered that RMN was allowed to participate during the 2004 General Conference along with other Affiliated Caucuses. The Executive Committee of SEJAC, who administers Lake Junaluska facilities, reviewed their request and agreed for us to provide hospitality to this group.

UMC Bishops Minerva Carcaño, Scott Jones, Susan Morrison, Sally Dyck and John Schol are planning to attend the "Hearts on Fire" conference. In a recent letter Bishop Dyck states "I believe the Bishops of The United Methodist Church have a role in breaking down some of the deeply divided groups." Dyck and other UM Bishops attending plan to also participate in the Confessing Movement Convocation later in September "to listen and build relationships."

The "Hearts on Fire" conference is not part of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) ministry program and receives no funds from SEJ apportionments or Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. By renting RMN space, we do not find this in violation of the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church including ¶ 612 and ¶806. We believe we are appropriately following the Social Principles as outlined in ¶161:

"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. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice 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."

The participants in the event will use the facilities of SEJAC and we will host them, as we do other groups who are our guests, in a gracious way that is exemplary of the wonderful United Methodist Church that we so love and desire to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.

Jimmy Carr
Executive Director

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