Acknowledgment of Diverse Beliefs Regarding Homosexuality
Rationale: Since 1972 the United Methodist Church has taken increasingly firmer positions opposing non-heterosexual orientations. Attempting to make all United Methodists conform to traditional beliefs has not decreased denominational tension. This petition attempts to relocate decision making to the appropriate level, i.e. Annual Conference and Pastors, and ease tension.
Whereas the United Methodist Church has been gradually centralizing control in matters of ordination, candidacy, and pastoral authority as regards “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,” and
Whereas the 2012 Book of Discipline(BoD) asserts that pastors have the authority to determine who to marry (¶340.2a3) and Annual Conferences have the authority to determine who is qualified for ordination (¶330, ¶335), and
Whereas our Doctrinal Standards are silent on sexuality but explicit in quoting John Wesley that “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think,” (BoD, ¶102) and
Whereas scholars in the United Methodist and other Christian traditions have made coherent cases that loving, monogamous relationships including same-sex relationships can be affirmed without jeopardizing the authority of Scripture or “strik[ing] at the root of Christianity.”
Therefore, be it resolved that the Great Plains Annual Conference petition the 2016 General Conference to amend the Book of Discipline as follows:
1. Paragraph 161F: “…We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry 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.
United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and
considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. A significant majority of United Methodists
continue to hold the long-standing belief that homosexual practice is
incompatible with Christian teaching. While we acknowledge and respect differences
in opinion on human sexuality, this remains the official position of the United
Methodist Church. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek
to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one
another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.
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
2. Paragraph 304.3: “While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world.
practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore
self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates,
ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
3. Paragraph 310.2d footnote 3: delete paragraphs 1-3, (ending with “…affirms its high standards) and 8-9 (from “The General Conference has made it clear…” and ending with “…against persons because they are single.”). The remaining footnote references Wesley’s Questions and the final two paragraphs.
4. paragraph 341.6: “
that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and
shall not be conducted in our churches.”
5. paragraph 613.9: “
To ensure that no annual conference
board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist
funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the
acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of the UMC “not
to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends” (¶161.F). The council
shall have the right to stop such expenditures. This restriction shall not
limit the Church’s ministry in response to the HIV epidemic, nor shall it
preclude funding for dialogs or educational events where the Church’s official
position is fairly and equally represented.”
6. Paragraph 2702.1: “1 A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶370), local pastor, clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶2702.4) with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in
a heterosexual marriage; ( b)
practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with
Christian teachings, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed
practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual
unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies; (c) crime; (d)
disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church; (e)
dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of
The United Methodist Church; (f) relationships and/or behavior that undermines
the ministry of another pastor; (g) child abuse; (h) sexual abuse;(i) sexual
misconduct or (j) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or
sexual harassment; or (k) racial or gender discrimination.