Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) thanks the Judicial Council for its work of deliberating the constitutionality of the Traditionalist Plan and the exit plan passed by delegates to the special session of General Conference 2019 (GC2019). In Decision 1378, the Judicial Council found the exit plan to be constitutional and found seven of the Traditionalist Plan’s 17 petitions to be unconstitutional (including four amended during GC2019).
The outcome is not surprising and does not change our plan to continue to resist the decisions of GC2019; continue to live into Biblical Obedience; show up at General Conference 2020; and remain open to new possibilities for our Church.
Notably, the Judicial Council struck down the “certification requirement” that individuals up for nomination to an Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM)must certify to their bishop their willingness to comply with the entirety of the Book of Discipline. It also struck down a requirement for BoOMs to “conduct an examination to ascertain whether an individual is a practicing homosexual,” as well as certifications that respondents will not repeat an action or actions.
Petitions found constitutional include the continued prohibition of LGBTQ persons in ordained ministry; the prohibition of LGBTQ bishops; and mandatory penalties for pastors convicted by a trial court of performing same-gender wedding ceremonies or conducting ceremonies to celebrate same-gender unions.
GC2019 proved that while LGBTQ persons have been the subject of the Church’s discriminatory attention for the past 40 years, justice and inclusion for LGBTQ persons in the full life and ministry of the Church will not come by the same processes and deliberative bodies that codified exclusion. Work remains to be done across the connection through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, by the leadership of queer and trans people of color and other LGBTQ persons, and by the might of a Reconciling movement that includes over 40,000 individuals and over 1,000 Reconciling Communities.
At RMN, we are not only working on what is to come, but we are already enacting it. We will continue to both lead and be part of conversations with United Methodists, church leaders, and groups around the connection. What will come of these ashes must be a Wesleyan movement that has already resolved to include LGBTQ persons in the full life and ministry of the Church.
We call upon the Reconciling movement to practice Biblical Obedience; to continue to perform weddings with multiple officiants; to repeatedly state your dissent; to support the work of resistance by United Methodist seminaries; to continue to write open letters and visibly be in solidarity with those on the margins; and more.
For more information on how you can rise and resist, visit our statement here.
Furthermore, we stand firm in our baptismal vows:
We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, we reject the evil powers of this world, and we call upon the Church to repent of the sin of homophobia.
We accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior and put our whole trust in his grace, promising to serve him as our God in union with the Church, which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.
Now is the time to rise and resist beside the growing number of Reconciling United Methodists and Wesleyan siblings who are working to be the Church in spite of the denomination.