Resolutions, petitions, and conversation circles: Human sexuality at AC ’15
Following Thursday’s conversation circles (May 28) – where participants gathered in groups of 10-12 people to discuss eight resolutions and petitions related to human sexuality – at the 2015 session of Annual Conference, voting members immediately voted on those eight resolutions and petitions.
Because of a rule in the Organizational Motion approved on Wednesday, the eight resolutions and petitions that refer to human sexuality were discussed in conversation circles and then voted on “without further discussion, debate, or provision for amendment, tabling, or referral.” It also stated that a single ballot listing all resolutions and petitions referring to human sexuality would be provided for members to indicate whether to “adopt” or “not to adopt” each individual resolutions or petition.
The supported resolutions and petitions will go on to General Conference session with the support of the Upper New York Conference. The unsupported resolution can still be sent to General Conference session by the writer of the resolution but will not be endorsed by the Upper New York Conference.
Prior to the start of conversation circles, submitters of each resolution or petition were given three minutes per resolution or petition to address the audience with any additional information regarding their submissions.
Resolution UNYAC2015.1 Resolution Concerning the General Conference and Homosexuality, presented by the Rev. Dr. Allan Hill, was supported.
“Allow us as a Conference to affirm the full humanity of gay people and say … ‘gay people are people,’” he said.
The resolution calls for the 2015 Upper New York Annual Conference session 2015 to implore its delegates to the 2016 General Conference to change the language used in The Social Principles and to affirm the place of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) members within the Church, including access both to marriage and ordination.
Resolution GC2016.3 Same Sex Marriage, submitted by the Rev. Dr. Wilfredo Baez, was supported. Rev. Baez was unable to give his presentation, but the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Field requested that everyone take the time to read his resolution.
The resolution calls for United Methodist elders, licensed local pastors, and United Methodist churches to choose to conduct – or allow to be conducted on their premises – same sex marriages. It also calls for United Methodist ordained, consecrated, and licensed clergy to be allowed to marry to same or opposite sex partners, have all the rights of such marriage, and conduct their lives without discrimination. It calls for each conference to provide an annual forum to educate congregations, clergy, and lay servants about gay marriage issues and for each conference to have a diversity officer and team to promote diversity within each conference.
Resolution GC2016.4 A Faithful Compromise: Providing Jurisdictional and Central Conference Authority to Resolve the Dilemma Regarding the Ordination of Self-Avowed Practicing Homosexuals, submitted by the Reconciling Team at Rochester’s Asbury First United Methodist Church and presented by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, was supported.
“We have tried for 40 years to get rid of that language, and for 40 years, we have failed,” he said. “Let us not lose the good for the sake of the perfect. We have to try something.”
The resolution calls for amendments to The Book of Discipline ¶304.3 and ¶2702.1 that delete the “incompatibility clause” and allows jurisdictions and central conferences to determine if self-avowed practicing homosexuals may be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
Rev. Cady also presented on Resolution GC2016.5 A Faithful Compromise: Providing Jurisdictional and Central Authority to Resolve the Dilemma Regarding Same-Sex Marriage, which was also submitted by the Reconciling Team at Asbury First UMC. It was supported.
Rev. Cady recalled the moment he was asked to officiate a gay wedding for the first time.
“It was a moment I had dreaded since beginning my ministry,” he said. “Friends, we have reached a tipping point as a denomination. “But let’s be clear about it; something has to change.”
The resolution calls for amendments to The Book of Discipline ¶341.6 and ¶2702.1 to allow jurisdictions and central conferences to conduct homosexual unions if they have determined to do so and that no minister can be required to celebrate or perform such a ceremony.
Resolution GC2016.6 Human Sexuality, presented by Mary Jane Russell, lay member at the Orchard Park UMC, was supported.
“The concept of marriage has changed in the intervening centuries,” she said. “Marriage is now a covenant entered upon by two consenting adults to establish a new family unit … the incompatibility clause is outdated; it is incompatible with Christian teachings.”
The resolution calls for amendments to The Book of Discipline ¶161F, ¶2702, ¶304.3, and ¶310.2d, with a focus on removing the “incompatibility clause.”
Petition GC2016.8 Disaffiliation for Reason of Conscience, presented by the Rev. Merrill Bender, pastor at County Line UMC in Lyndonville, was not supported.
“Unfortunately we are divided; we are not united,” he said. “Your mission, your beliefs, your theology may be different, and that’s okay. We should show love about that to all brothers and sisters.”
This calls for the Upper New York Annual Conference session to petition the General Conference that the paragraphs be added to The Book of Discipline. One new paragraph would allow for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church due to conflict over the current Church position on homosexuality and the blessing of homosexual unions. Another new paragraph would allow clergy to withdraw for reasons of conscience.
Resolution GC2016.10 Reconciliation, presented by lay member Julius Archibald who spoke on the behalf of the Leadership Council at the Plattsburgh UMC that submitted the resolution, was supported.
The resolution calls for amendment to the ¶2702.1 and for the phrase “incompatible with Christian teachings” and all verbiage immediately related thereto be deleted from ¶161F and ¶304.3 of The Book of Discipline.
“We are the same in God’s sight; we should not judge each other,” Archibald said. “We need to have a Church that is united and not a Church with second class members in it.”
Resolution GC2016.11 Removing Hurtful Language, presented by the Rev. Stephen Heiss, retired, was supported.
“No one is asking you to be gay; all the gay community is asking you to do is not to judge them,” he said. “If you want to make a difference in the world, why pick on gay people?”
The resolution calls for the deletion of, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching” from The Book of Discipline ¶161F.