In February, a special session of the General Conference (the legislative branch of the UMC) was convened in St. Louis to determine the role of LGBTQ people in the church. By a narrow margin, over 800 delegates from around the world voted for the so-called “Traditional Plan,” which disallows LGBTQ clergy and includes punitive measures for pastors who conduct same-gender weddings. That vote prompted this pastor to drape black cloth over the “United Methodist Church” portion of our sign, mourning the decision and grieving the continued harm perpetrated by the church on LGBTQ folk. Yet I had remained hopeful. Many of us believed the Judicial Council (kind of the Supreme Court of the UMC) would find the plan unconstitutional. Last Friday, the Judicial Council largely upheld the Traditional Plan, as well as a plan for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. The petitions that were ruled constitutional – including no LGBTQ clergy and no samegender weddings – will go into effect in the U.S. on January 1, 2020. The petition on a “gracious exit” goes into effect immediately. You may review the Judicial Council’s decisions at http://bit.ly/JCR1378 and at http://bit.ly/JCR1379. An explanation of both rulings is at http://bit.ly/UMNSApr26.
Our bishop, Bob Hoshibata, writes:
This news is being received with joy by some and with deep despair by others. Clearly, we remain a deeply divided church about matters related to the inclusion of our LGBTQIA siblings in the church, the community, and the world. We are conflicted about how we hold each other accountable and how we move into the future, perhaps united and together or perhaps divided and apart…. I am also seeing and feeling the excitement and perhaps the inevitability of something new and exciting emerging from the rubble of The United Methodist Church.
We don’t know what the future holds. We are presently in a holding pattern. But rest assured your pastors (along with many others), your bishop (and many others), this annual conference (and many others), as well as the Western Jurisdiction, pledge to resist what we believe to be harmful and discriminatory language and practices. We journey in faith with these supportive words from our bishop:
So as we travel together into an uncertain future, I pray that we will not lose hope or faith in God. We are, you will remember, a people of resurrection faith! We hold fast in our trust that in all things, God will be with us.
So, let’s keep engaging our congregation and our community in mission to touch hearts and souls and transform lives
Let’s share the love of Christ with all people
Let’s love one another even when we disagree
Let’s pray for each other as we discern what our future will be
And in the Wesleyan spirit, let’s do no harm, do good, and last but not least, let us stay in love with God.
~Bishop Robert Hoshibata
I remain convinced that a bolder, more inclusive, grace-filled expression of the faith will emerge — the kind that Dayspring already strives to embody. May we continue to be a church for all people