leading the church to offer the hope, grace, and love of Jesus to a hurting world

God is at work among the people of the United Methodist Church and we are in a crucible of change. Where we have done harm through exclusion, the Spirit guides us to become more inclusive. Where we have been bureaucratic and rule-bound, the Spirit guides us to embrace administrative simplicity and relational wisdom. These movements toward inclusion, simplicity, and relationality open the greatest possibilities for justice, peace, and growth in the continuing United Methodist Church. However, there is much work to be done in response to what God has begun.

Practical steps toward this vision:

To become more inclusive: As a Bishop I would use all available (though limited) powers and provisions in the Discipline toward full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons and clergy in the UMC. This would mean:

1. Holding charges against clergy for matters related to LGBTQ+ inclusion and same-gender marriage in abeyance until such time as the restrictive language on homosexuality is removed from the Book of Discipline.

2. Allowing the clergy executive session of the annual conference(s) I would lead to have their Disciplinary power to admit clergy into provisional or full membership, regardless of the restrictive language and not interfering with that authority as the presiding officer. Not all clergy sessions will be prepared to admit LGBTQ clergy at this time, but in this particular, urgent time, those who are ready should be permitted to exercise their authority on this matter.

To become a simpler church:

1. Work toward the adoption of proposals like “US as a regional conference” to make the UMC more adaptive: https://www.umc.org/-/media/umc-media/2019/12/02/21/51/usrc-petition-onlinecopy.ashx?la=en&hash=EBC9DC690112F5C036A3CB3E88DA54B57D3BA2FA

2. Work to forge a new unity in the continuing United Methodist Church through the “emerging slimmer Discipline” and other means to update our governance rules for ministry across the world in the 21st Century: https://www.umc.org/en/content/proposed-new-general-book-of-discipline-review-documents-available

3. Consider and work toward other proposals under the guiding principle of listening more closely to non-US United Methodists on matters affecting the whole Church. https://www.christmascovenant.com/faqs


Simple Church

Saw these books side-by-side on my table this afternoon. It’s striking how much longer the current Book of Discipline of our UMC is compared to Wesley’s three rules or even our much simpler 1908 Book of Discipline. The United Methodist Church can be bureaucratic and rule-bound. But our heritage is rooted in administrative simplicity and relational wisdom. Recapturing a Wesleyan polity and a simpler organization, is a vital piece of the future of the UMC.


Bishops and Ordination and LGBTQ Inclusion

In the UMC, Bishops’ power is intentionally limited but there are ways Bishops can lead LGBTQ inclusion now. Bishops lead Annual Conferences, but mostly in influence rather than power. As an example, a Bishop commissions and ordains new clergy on behalf of an Annual Conference. The final decision for which clergy are ordained and commissioned, however, falls to the Clergy Session, not the Bishop. This is clear in prgh 324 of the Book of Discipline and the related Judicial Council decisions. A Bishop is charged with enforcing our Discipline, however.

I believe that in the period we find ourselves in now, a Bishop’s role would be to allow annual conferences who are prepared to move forward with inclusion to do just that without interfering. This is a deferential step to allow the authority granted to the Clergy Session.


African College of Bishops disavows Africa Initiative

In the continuing UMC, I believe that amplifying and listening to the voices of overseas UM leaders will be vital to the future of the Church. In the 21st century, they have been breaking out of colonialism and the UMC should be a part of that liberation.


Paragraph 2553 the only option per Judicial Council

The Judicial Council has officially ruled that churches wishing to leave the UMC over matters of human sexuality must use prgh 2553 for disaffiliation. The congregation’s property may not be handed or deeded over to a new denomination without General Conference having approved that new denomination. The ruling specifically cited paragraph 2553 as an available exit path, which was approved by General Conference in 2019. I think this is a very relevant ruling to the lawsuits the WCA is bringing to try to reduce their exit requirements below the standard of paragraph 2553.