This is from the Reconciling Ministries Newsletter:
1. JUDICIAL COUNCIL DENIES RECONSIDERATION OF 1031 AND 1032
The majority of the Judicial Council, the highest court of the United Methodist Church in a 5-4 vote ignored the will of 80% of the Virginia annual conference clergy session, the unanimous Council of Bishop's letter and rejected the 2004 General Conference's affirmation to continue the vision of a church with Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.
With closed minds, the majority refused to even reconsider.
The Judicial Council's slippery slope nurturing prejudice against faithful United Methodists who are gay or lesbian while disregarding church polity reinforces that ¶304.3 must be abolished, along with all phrases asserting the "incompatibility" of homosexuality with Christian teaching.
God's Spirit lives, speaks, comforts and guides many people in many ways, and the church is most honest when it affirms Christian teachings, not a singular Christian teaching such as underlies ¶304.3. RMN regards that singular approach as logical fallacy, doctrinally inconsistent with Wesleyan tradition, and diminishing of the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit blesses lesbian and gay persons, their families, their children and calls, gifts and graces some for ordained ministry.
Reconciling United Methodists cannot rely upon or wait for the institution to correct this injustice. The power to correct this injustice now moves to General Conference 2008 in Ft. Worth, Texas. The power to correct this injustice lies in the grassroots movement of reconciling people, in you. Ft. Worth -- will you be there?
Rev. Troy Plummer
This decision regards a pastor who denied membership to a gay man. The pastor's district superintendent suspended him, and his bishop upheld that decision. The pastor appealed the bishop's decision to the Judiciary Council, which reversed the decision--in effect, saying the pastor was right to deny the man membership. That decision was appealed, and this ruling affirms the original decision by the Council.
Once again, I ask, what has happened to the understanding of the Holy Spirit? Of Wesleyan theology? We are none of us perfect. If we required lack of sin before we allowed a person to join the church, then the churches would be empty. I cannot agree that to be in a committed, long-term, loving relationship (same-sex or different-sex) is sin. But even if you do think so, how can we allow a pastor to make that decision as to who is "worthy" to join the church? What about people who have been convicted of crimes--embezzlement, robbery, domestic violence? Or people who have been divorced? Or who have lied? Do you see that slippery slope? Who will administer the background checks to see if people are still willfully sinning? And how do you decide if they are really trying to stop or not?
Moreover, I do not find any warrant, either in Scripture or any theology I have read, that the pastor is omniscient enough, powerful enough, to decide who is "worthy" to join the church.
Like the sacraments, church membership is not ours to give, but Christ's--the communion table, the baptismal font--the invitation is Christ's, and all we do as pastors is accompany others on their journey. It is not our decision as to who to keep out and who to allow in. We are all God's children, the sheep of God's pasture. All of us--the thieves (remember the one on the cross?), the adulterers, the caretakers, the lesbians, the liars, the healers, the gay men, the enviers, the bisexuals, the comforters, the swearers, the transgender people, the murderers, the ones who feed others, the violent--every one of us. We know our shepherd's voice--who will keep us from our proper fold and flock?
Apparently, the Judicial Council will try.
I am weeping for the UMC tonight. They will deny membership to more than they know.