Consider These Points...
Greetings United Methodist siblings,
As a delegate to the special session of General Conference in February, I attended an event hosted by the Bishops of the Northeastern Jurisdiction earlier this fall. The event cultivated deeper relationships with my fellow delegates, but as I reflect, I feel misled by the bishops and the members of the Commission on a Way Forward who were present. The conversation which the bishops are propagating discusses the One Church Plan (OCP) in such a way that people on either side of the aisle may be enticed--and yet the conversation suffers greatly from the sin of omission. Below are the details of the One Church Plan which the bishops have not openly discussed, and which frankly make me, as an openly gay certified candidate for ministry, vehemently opposed to the OCP, and therefore, in unequivocal support of the Simple Plan.
-New Paragraph 340.3 allows SPRs to force out a pastor who wishes to perform same-sex weddings. Though the Judicial Council ruled part of this paragraph unconstitutional because only the Bishop has the power to reassign a pastor under appointment (paragraph 54)--which is victory--the first portion continues to force “practicing homosexual” candidates to migrate to inclusive conferences.
-Paragraph 415.6 INCLUDES the language “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” when it allows bishops to refuse to ordain them--BUT ALSO now includes “deaconesses, home missioners, and missionaries” as subject to the Bishop’s scrutiny. Previously, since deaconesses, home missioners, and missionaries did not go through BOOM they were not formally subjected to this scrutiny. They still are not required to go through BOOM, but Bishops now have the stated ability to refuse to commission them if they are out LGBTQIA+ persons.
-Paragraph 613.19 of the BOD (not mentioned in OCP) explicitly says: “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’ (paragraph 161G). The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.” As my dear friend Rev. Alex da Silva Souto puts it, this is segregation through the “power of the purse.”
I know many well-intentioned clergy allies who are rallying support for the OCP because at least they can perform same-sex weddings in their churches. I commend their intentions, but by supporting this plan they continue to condone a situation of forced migration for LGBTQ+ clergy.
As I look at the prospect of ordination in my near future, I am unsure as to whether my home conference would ordain me, and the One Church Plan continues this fear. No matter what I may be forced to leave my home, but at least the discrimination would not be sanctioned by my denomination. I beg you to prayerfully consider these points and to reach out if you seek further clarification. For these reasons, I strongly support the Simple Plan.