VA UMC Bishop Decides Membership, Not Clergy,
From: Mike Barker [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2005 7:45 AM
Subject: va umc bishop decides membership, not clergy, not laity, spineless clergy agree
The matter of interest below concerns Rev. Ed Johnson Sr., formerly of South Hill UMC in Virginia, now placed on involuntary leave without pay (how?) by action of Virginia Conference UMC Bishop Charlene Kammerer and clergy vote in closed session. The Rev. Tom Thomas is pastor Johnson's "advocate," performing the role of pseudo-attorney.
Pastor Thomas serves the North Mecklenburg charge in the Farmville District.
Lay Member, Trinity UMC
King George VA
See below an excerpt from the Daily Proceedings of the 2005 Virginia Annual Conference, which will be a part of the complete Journal of the Va Annual Conference for 2005.
See also news reports:
Or Google on: South Hill Methodist Kammerer Johnson.
The associate pastor at South Hill (Johnson was head pastor) charged Johnson with violating language in the discipline for declining to give membership to a participant in church life who is apparantly a practicing and activist homosexual.
This individual has apparantly been the center of commotion in other churches in the area. The matter was presented through the D.S. and Bishop who counselled pastor Johnson on this matter and as a regular part of their job duties with all pastors. The matter was presented to the clergy session via recommendation by the executive committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry.
You will note that in about an hour or so, there was no discussion of biblical text, the various places of relevance the Book of Discipline, no discussion of sin or unrepentant sin, no discussion of church membership, no discussion of Bishop control vs clergy control vs local church control over membership. The debate, such as it was, hit on on narrow text in the Discipline, but mostly on insubordination to the D.S. and Superintendent.
The issue of homosexuality, whether it is or is not sinful, to what degree we tolerate sin by church participants, and to what degree we tolerate sin by church members are all factors in this case. None of these issues were presented in the quick debate on that Monday morning. There was a quick motion to get on with the vote, and that's what the gutless clergy of Virginia Conf did.
The Ed Johnson matter was of course not vetted or even announced prior to conference. Even though the Discipline demands an "immediate" report on closed sessions afterwards, the Daily Proceedings were released after 38 days. Officials in Glen Allen have refused repeated requests to report fully on this matter.
558 full connection clergy were there to vote. This is perhaps half (somebody double check this) the number of full connection clergy privilidged to vote in the Va AC. One strongly suspects that the
448 clergy on hand to vote against pastor Johnson were recipients of prior private recruiting to show up and rally around this side of the issue.
Additionally, the flock at South Hill is now coming face to face with the issues of Bishop control, clergy control, Order of Elders control, Discipline control, and local control over local church matters. A new head paster has been supplied to South Hill by the Bishop. The flock at South Hill is understandably bewildered because all that happened was done with zero participation by the locals.
There are undoubtedly some at South Hill UMC who would like to tell the Bishop and her UMC episcopacy to take a hike. That they would like to run their own church, since they of course are the ones who provide 100% of the support and funding.
They will receive a rude awakening if they persue this, as Bishop Kammerer would no doubt (as has been done before) swoop down on South Hill with claims of property trust rights, and along with her attorneys and $$$ seize the local property for her UMC. Our Bishop spent many hours early this year lobbying the Virginia Senate to retain what she believes is her UMC right under Virginia law.
The take-away for laity is that you should pay attention to the powers of clergy and the UMC bureacracy to which they are alleged. Your local pastor passes the collection plate to you every week, expecting you to contribute with your money and services. But your local pastor and organs of church communication aren't fully revealing when it comes to informing you what is done with your funding and in your name as a United Methodist.
Most of what the UMC does is good, but quite a bit is not, and you DO have the option of choosing what you do and don't support.
Lay Member, Trinity UMC
King George, VA
MONDAY MORNING, June 13, 2005 CLERGY EXECUTIVE SESSION1
Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer welcomed clergy members to the Convention Center Ballroom at 8:32 a.m. Rev. Beth C. Downs asked members in full connection (deacons and elders) to be seated in Section A, front and back, Section B, front and back, and Section C, front. She asked local pastors to be seated in Section C, back, and probationary, associate members and candidates to be seated in Section D.
Bishop Kammerer called the Clergy Executive Session to order at 8:35 a.m. She said it was her privilege to convene the clergy executive session for the Virginia Annual Conference. She stated that the purpose of the clergy session was to review, celebrate, and covenant together to strengthen ourselves in service and ministry to Jesus Christ through The United Methodist Church. She expressed the gratitude clergy have to meet together, charged to handle matters relating to status of relationship, to entry and exit, and to celebrations of licensings, commissionings, and ordinations.
Rev. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell and Rev. Shirley M. Wang led in worship, including a reading from Colossians 3:12-17. Bishop Kammerer led in a reaffirmation of the call to ministry. Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor led a cappella singing.
Bishop Kammerer introduced Rev. Jeffrey P. Mickle, chairperson of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Rev. Mickle called attention to the printed booklet of minute questions and an addendum sheet, which had been distributed at the entrances to the executive session. Rev. Mickle encouraged members to use the error correction sheet, included in the booklet, to report proposed corrections.
Rev. Mickle stated that all clergy members, and lay members of the board of ordained ministry, were seated in the clergy session with voice, and that only elders and deacons in full connection, and lay members of the board, could vote. He moved that the bar of the clergy session be Section A, front and back, Section B, front and back, the front portion of Section C of the floor seating, and the platform. The motion passed. Rev. Mickle moved to allow the presence in the room of Ms. Estelle Pruden, administrative secretary to the bishop, Ms. Phyllis Crowe, secretary to the director of ministerial services, and the sign language interpreters, without voice or vote. The motion was adopted. Rev. Mickle reported on actions taken at the last clergy session which had been reversed by Judicial Council action (see Judicial Council Decision Number 995, available on line). He reported that a settlement had been reached involving Rev. George H. Close, Jr., placing him on the list of those whose ad interim retirement is to be approved at this session (see Minute Question 59). He announced that the board would form a new retirement committee, and move toward enforcing the Disciplinary requirements for a 120-day notice of intention to seek the retired relationship.
Bishop Kammerer invited members to turn to Minute Question 59, found on page 30 of the minute questions booklet. Rev. Mickle presented Minute Questions 59 a. for both deacons and elders, and 60 a., 61 a. and 62 a., found on pages 30-37 of the printed booklet. Questions 59 a. and 60 a. were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. Bishop Kammerer invited those granted the retired relationship at this session of annual conference to stand for recognition.
Rev. Larry O. Tingle suggested that a cabinet representative and two members of the association of retired ministers (ARM) be invited to serve as co-opted members of the retirement committee to work on a protocol for supervision of retired clergy. Rev. Mickle accepted his suggestion, on behalf of the board.
Rev. Mickle invited the candidates for election as members in full connection and ordination as elders (Minute Questions 33 and 35), including candidates under the 1992 Discipline (Minute Question 37) to the platform. Bishop Kammerer asked these persons the historic questions, and offered words of blessing. Each candidate was individually approved by two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection, including the election in abstentia of Rev. Christian Haga Turner.
Rev. Thomas L. Joyce, dean of the cabinet, answered Minute Question 17 on behalf of the district superintendents. He stated that, “Recognizing first that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,’ we do believe that the clergy of the Virginia Conference are blameless in their life and administration.”
Rev. Mickle presented Minute Question 18. The nominees for these committees were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection.
Questions 19 and 20 (with names from addendum sheet) were presented for informational purposes.
Candidates for approval as full- and part-time local pastors and student local pastors and being appointed to their first pastoral ministries (from among those listed in Minute Questions 21 a., 21 b., and 21 d.) were invited to the platform. The first time local pastors, as well as the remaining candidates for approval and appointment as full-time and part-time local pastors (Minute Question 21 a. and b.) were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. Rev. Mickle presented, for informational purposes, Minute Questions 22 and 24.
Clergy in good standing in other Christian denominations who were candidates for approval to serve in the Virginia Annual Conference (Minute Questions 25) were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. Clergy from other annual conferences (Minute Question 26 b., including addendum sheet) were approved as affiliate members without vote by a two- thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection.
Candidates for election and commissioning as probationary members (Minute Question 2 were invited to the platform, and were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. Those continuing as probationary members (Minute Questions 30 and 31, including the addendum sheet) were presented for informational purposes.
Candidates for transfer into the Virginia Annual Conference, including local pastors (Minute Question 32 b.), members in full connection (Minute Question 41) and candidates from other Methodist denominations (Minute Question 42) were welcomed to the platform. The candidate in question 32 b. was approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection.
Minute Question 45 (on the addendum sheet) was presented for informational purposes. Rev. Mickle presented the names of those who were discontinued as probationary members (Minute Question 46). They were approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. The granting of honorable location (Minute Question 47 a.) was approved. Retirees granted honorable location (Minute Question 4 were presented for informational purposes. A withdrawal under complaint or charges (Minute Question 50 c.) was approved by vote of the clergy members in full connection. A suspension (Minute Question 51) was presented for informational purposes.
A moment of silence was observed in memory of those who had died in the previous year (Minute Question 52).
Rev. Mickle presented, for informational purposes, the names of those appointed in other annual conferences of The United Methodist Church (Minute Question 53). He presented the names of those seeking or continuing on leave of absence (Minute Question 54 a.) These leaves, all for the fifth year or less, were granted by vote of the clergy members in full connection.
Rev. H. O. “Tom” Thomas moved to ask Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer the following question of law:
Is the motion to place the Rev. Ed. [Edward H.] Johnson on involuntary leave of absence (Para. 354.3) out of order because the Presentation by the Board of Ordained Ministry at a hearing on June 9, 2005 has substituted what amounts to a chargeable offense and ‘disobedience to the order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church’ (Para.2702. 1e)? The Presentation by the Board of Ordained Ministry charges the Rev. Johnson with ‘a violation of United Methodist Church Polity’ and with being “unwilling to uphold (sic) Book of Discipline and to take direction from his district superintendent and his bishop” which substitutes an administrative complaint for what rightfully is a judicial complaint. Consequently, is not the matter beyond the disciplinary purview of the Conference Relations Committee of Board of Ordained Ministry and does it not fail to afford the accused with his fair process rights?
The motion to ask the question of law received a second. Rev. Mickle raised a point of order, that the clergy session would have to first waive the 90-day notice requirement in order to consider any motion regarding involuntary leave of absence for the member in question. Bishop Kammerer agreed to postpone the question of law until after consideration of the waiver request. Rev. Mickle moved to waive the 90-day notice requirement for a request for involuntary leave of absence for Rev. Edward H. Johnson (Minute Question 54 b., addendum sheet). Rev. Mickle presented the background and rationale for the motion. Rev. Mickle reported that Bishop Kammerer, the district superintendents, and the board of ordained ministry, over the course of several hearings with Rev. Johnson, had each recommended the waiver of the notice requirement, in order for the Board to present the recommendation for involuntary leave at this clergy session.
Rev. Keith D. Boyette announced his intention to abstain in all votes in this matter, since he is a member of the Judicial Council.
Rev. Tammy L. Estep, chairperson of the administrative review committee, reported the findings of the committee’s review of the entire process leading to the recommendation for involuntary leave of absence. She concluded, on behalf of the committee, that the proper steps had been taken in order to present a motion to waive the 90-day requirement.
Rev. Mickle, responding to a perceived inaccuracy in Rev. Estep’s report, clarified that the district superintendents had sustained the recommendation for waiver of the notice requirement and the recommendation for medical benefits, but not the recommendation for the involuntary leave itself. Bishop Kammerer confirmed that this had been the action of the superintendents.
Rev. Thomas moved that the vote for the waiver be taken by secret ballot. The motion was not sustained. Tellers counted the standing vote as follows: 581 for, 20 against. The waiver of the 90-day notice requirement was granted.
Rev. Mickle referred to paragraphs 161 G), 214, 225, 423.13. and 362.2 in the 2004 Book of Discipline in describing the background and rationale leading to the Board’s conclusion that, given Rev. Edward H. Johnson’s unwillingness to follow the direction of his superintendent, bishop, and board of ordained ministry, he would have to be placed on involuntary leave of absence. Rev. Mickle moved that Rev. Johnson be placed on involuntary leave effective July 1, 2005, with health benefits provided by the annual conference for one year, and remedial actions.
Rev. Thomas raised a point of order. He stated that his question of law had addressed the motion for involuntary leave itself, not action on the motion.
Bishop Kammerer received the question of law. She ruled that the motion for involuntary leave was in order.
Rev. Thomas submitted a second question of law: “Must a clergyperson, at the direction of a bishop and/or district superintendent and subject to their administrative complaint or charge, receive into the membership of a local United Methodist Church anyone who is able to receive the vow, affirm the vow and promises to fulfill the vow and who at the same time acknowledges and impenitently practices homosexual relations?”
Bishop Kammerer received the second question of law. She stated that the bishop and district superintendent are charged to give guidance, as they did to Rev. Johnson in this matter.
Rev. Thomas submitted a third question of law: “Does the permissive language of 214 and 225 grant the appointed senior pastor, in this case the Rev. Ed. Johnson, the right and responsibility to exercise responsible pastoral judgement in determining who may be received into church membership of a local church?”
Bishop Kammerer received the third question of law. She ruled in the negative in this case.
Rev. Thomas Coffman moved the previous question. The motion carried. Rev. Thomas moved that the vote be taken by secret ballot. The motion did not pass.
Recognized for a point of order, Rev. James H. Hundley asked about a previous offer to hear from Rev. Johnson. Rev. Johnson briefly addressed the clergy session.
Tellers counted the standing vote. The motion to place Rev. Johnson on involuntary leave, with health benefits, was approved by the required two-thirds vote (448 for, 114 against, with 18 abstentions).
Rev. Mickle presented the names of those placed on leave of absence since the last session of annual conference (Minute Question 54 c.). They were approved by vote of the clergy in full connection. He presented for informational purposes those whose leaves had been terminated since the last session (Minute Question 54 d.). The granting of family leave (Minute Question 55) and sabbatical leave (Minute Question 56) was approved by vote of the clergy in full connection. Those who were granted incapacity leave or had incapacity leave terminated since the last annual conference (Minute Question 57 a. and b.) were presented for informational purposes. Rev. Mickle presented the names of those who were applying for incapacity leave at this session (Minute Question 57 c.), including those for whom benefits were pending. They were approved by vote of the clergy in full connection. Transitional leave was approved for a deacon in full connection (Minute Question 5.
Rev. Mickle presented numerical summaries of previous actions (Minute Questions 63, 64 and 65) for informational purposes. The names of those in process for certification for specialized ministry (Minute Question 66) and those being certified in specialized ministry (Minute Question 67) were presented for informational purposes. Rev. Mickle presented the nominees for the committee on investigation for diaconal ministers. They were elected by vote of the clergy members in full connection. The proposal to grant a diaconal minister a leave of absence (Minute Question 79 b.) was approved. Those presented for approval as retired diaconal ministers (Minute Question 82 b.) received the vote of two-thirds of the members in full connection.
Rev. Mickle presented those to be approved for less than full-time service (Minute Question 83 a.; see addendum). Those with eight years’ service or less were approved by vote of two- thirds of the clergy in full connection. Those in less than full-time service beyond eight years were approved by vote of three-fourths of the clergy in full connection. The granting of less than full-time service to a deacon in full connection (Minute Question 83 b.) was presented for informational purposes.
Rev. Mickle presented for informational purposes the changes made in the appointments since the last annual conference (Minute Question 85). He stated that the list of clergy and diaconal minister appointed and where they are appointed for the ensuing year (Minute Questions 86 and 90) would appear in The Virginia United Methodist Advocate on Wednesday. He presented for informational purposes the list of those appointed beyond the local church, including deacons in full connection (Minute Question 87), others appointed within the connectional structures of United Methodism (Minute Question 88 a., including addendum sheet), to ministries endorsed by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry (Minute Question 88 b., including addendum sheet), and to attend school (Minute Question 89 c.). He presented the names of those to be appointed to other valid ministries (Minute Question 88 c., including addendum sheet). The latter were approved by vote of two-thirds of the clergy in full connection. Rev. Mickle presented for informational purposes the other personal notations listed in Minute Question 91, and announced that the next conference session would be held in Hampton, Virginia (Minute Question 92).
Rev. Thomas moved to appeal the bishop’s rulings on the three questions of law to the Judicial Council. When asked by a member of the clergy session, Bishop Kammerer confirmed that it was her understanding that questions of law automatically go to the Judicial Council. Rev. Thomas withdrew the motion to appeal.
Rev. David A. Rash moved that the conference support Rev. Johnson with salary at his current level for the next year. Rev. Thomas Joyce, dean of the cabinet, reported that the superintendents considered all matters according to 354.1, and recommended payment of health benefits, but not payment of salary. Rev. Rash withdrew his motion.
In response to a question, Bishop Kammerer stated that all matters in clergy executive session are deemed, by the Book of Discipline, to be highly confidential, and urged members to honor that confidentiality. Bishop Kammerer thanked the clergy for their compassion, patience and prayerful support for all matters and all persons during the clergy session. She also expressed appreciation to the board of ordained ministry for their work on behalf of the annual conference, to Rev. Jeffrey P. Mickle and Rev. Beth C. Downs for their leadership, and to the cabinet. Bishop Kammerer offered a closing prayer.
The clergy session ended at 10:48 a.m.
------------ Mike Barker, King George VA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Conference membership in 1972: 386k today: 342k Virginia population .......... in 1970: 4.6m today: 7.4m >From 1972 to 2003: 44,000 fewer members (11% drop) 300 more clergy (33% increase 100 fewer churches (8% drop) The UMC response: divest from Israel and aid terrorists
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