Constitutional but unChristian

photo credit: “Locked In” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, California, USA.

photo credit: “Locked In” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, California, USA.

The Judicial Council put the final nail in the coffin of the United Methodist Church (UMC).  Their ruling allowed many of the Traditional Plan’s most discriminatory and punitive measures to remain in the Book of Discipline (BoD) thereby exacerbating the assaults on LGBTQIA+ people and further empowering agents of harm. This creates an unbearable level of toxicity and unsustainability. I have serious concerns as to whether General Conference 2020 will be able to fix this vicious mess. We have not managed to clean up the BoD from all the harm inflicted unto us since 1972. How will 2020 be any different?

Progressives have been fighting for survival mechanisms and deploying creative forms of resistance for so long, but now many of our places of refuge have been taken away. We are ready to begin thriving through God’s grace, rather than remain in survival mode. That may mean living into a new expression of Methodism. It is increasingly clear that our current expression is corrupted beyond repair. To make matters worse, far-right exclusionary local churches have the upper hand even when it comes to disaffiliation. A gracious exit is available for conservative churches in progressives ACs, because “no good Christian would punish a church that wants to leave.” But progressive churches in exclusionary ACs will probably be in deep trouble, given the punitive tendencies of conferences dominated by WCA. Going forward, a number of inclusive churches will continue to discern whether they can continue to acquiesce to the now-institutionalized abuses of the UMC. These churches remain at the mercy of their Annual Conferences. I hope our church can, at the very least, acknowledge that some local churches cannot in good conscience remain complacent to the harm and abuse currently perpetuated by the UMC.

Here is my read of the legislations deemed constitutional, yet utterly unChristian:

90032 - No more plausible deniability. FB, Twitter posting might become irrefutable proofs of "violation of BoD" as a marriage licenses now is.

90036 - No more consecration of Queer Bishops, and conservative Bishops have the power to bar ordination even if DCOOM and BOOM have affirmed a candidate.

90042 - Minimum sentencing without legal recourse. Probably based on out clergy still in ministry case and clergy who have performed various same-gender-loving marriages. "a) First (1st) offense – One (1) year’s suspension without pay. b) Second (2nd) offense - Not less than termination of conference membership and revocation of credentials of licensing, ordination, or consecration."

90043 - Bishops have the power to exclude candidates that DCOOM and BOOM have approved. This one is also aiming to destroy the separations of power. They want to destroy the argument that inclusive bishops have used when questions of Legality were raised at Clergy Sessions that approved queer candidates.

90044 - Progressive Bishops will have a hard time protecting Out Clergy since now any public statement of being “self-avowed practicing” can be deemed a “fact” or a “proof” of violation of the BoD.

90045 - No repeat offense, two strikes (gay marriages, one statement of being ‘self-avowed practicing homosexual) and you’re out.

90046 - "Complainant(s)" are empowered to force the hand of discrimination reinforcers (DCOOM, BOOM, Bishops). The charges cannot be dismissed until the charging party is satisfied with the result. And we know that some "complainants" won't be satisfied until they have pushed us out completely no matter how many trials it may take.

90047 - It is precisely what it says it is not: “Double Jeopardy”.

Thanks be to God for the ones on the margins doing the work of resistance and liberation,

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto