Toward a Simpler, More Inclusive ChurchPosted on October 17, 2021
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