UMC Jurisdictional Conference Update (11-9-2022)

The UMC Jurisdictional Conference was last week Nov 1-5. The UMC separates all of our churches into 5 Jurisdictions. We are the South-Central Jurisdiction which includes 8 states. This is where Bishops are elected for the church and also assigned to Conferences.

We have 4 bishops retiring the end of this year, but only elected 3 new ones. That is because so many churches are disaffiliating from the UMC, they will have to change the boundaries of conferences in 2024.

We are happy to report that Bishop Schnase, our current Bishop was re-assigned to our area. Also, Laura Merrill, our DS in Austin was elected as one of the 3 Bishops. She will be assigned to the Arkansas Conference January 1.

In other business, three resolutions were passed. They can be found at the bottom of this email.

The first one is called the “integrity resolution” and calls for all people who are thinking of disaffiliating from the UMC to immediately resign any position in their local church or conference.

The second calls for the whole of the US to be made a Region, which would do away with the 5 Jurisdictions. The impact of this resolution would mean that US only delegates could change the Book of Discipline any way they wanted while not having our members around the world (Africa, Philippines, Europe, etc) to have any affect on the vote. The African vote is now 50% of the total vote so they have enabled the vote to stay traditional.

The third resolution calls for affirming LBGTQ+ people and to refrain from acting on any charges brought against pastors or Bishops who are part of that category or who do weddings.

In news of other Jurisdictions, the Western Jurisdiction elected our second gay Bishop. He introduced his husband when he thanked the delegates. There were 2 openings for bishops in the NE Jurisdiction. After many votes, only a gay candidate and a traditional candidate were left. The liberal delegation passed a motion to not elect the second bishop until 2024 in hopes of getting the votes to elect the gay bishop. The current college of bishops will have to cover the area that is unattended. There were no traditional bishops elected in any of the 5 Jurisdictions.

All Bishops elected vowed to work to change the Book of Discipline regarding any sexuality language.

UMC Jurisdictional Conference Resolutions

South Central Jurisdiction Conference 2022 Resolution 22-01

Leading with Integrity

A resolution to the 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference

Whereas, the vibrant future of The United Methodist Church requires deep commitment and loyal leadership at every level, and

Whereas, grounded in a sense of duty and loyalty to the mission of the church, leaders are counted on and expected to make decisions about the future of The United Methodist Church with the absolute best interest of Christ’s church at heart, and

Whereas, the selection, election, and appointment of clergy and lay leaders throughout The United Methodist Church includes the implicit understanding that leaders will ethically serve in each of their leadership roles with the utmost integrity, and

Whereas, leaders who do not intend to remain in The United Methodist Church entangle themselves in a significant conflict of interest, and

Whereas, the service of a leader whose call to discipleship is aligned with The United Methodist Church is prevented by the continued leadership of an individual who has made a private decision and/or public declaration to leave The United Methodist Church.

Therefore, be it resolved that the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church expresses both respect and gratitude to those who have voluntarily stepped away from positions of leadership as they journey away from membership in The United Methodist Church.

Be it further resolved that, as we continue this period of transition the South Central Jurisdiction calls upon every United Methodist, as a disciple of Jesus the Christ, to move forward in fairness and with integrity.

Be it further resolved that, in an effort to ensure that decisions about The United Methodist Church are made by those who are wholeheartedly committed to its future, the South Central Jurisdiction believes that only lay and clergy members who intend to remain in The United Methodist Church are appropriately eligible to serve in positions of leadership; including but not limited to: local church, district, conference, jurisdictional, and general church level committees, boards, agencies, delegations, and episcopal leaders. We encourage Conference Boards of Trustees to develop codes of conduct to manage conflicts of interest that may arise around discussions of disaffiliation agreements.

Be it further resolved that the South Central Jurisdiction asks all who intend to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church to recuse themselves from leadership roles.

Submitted by,

Shandon Klein

Lay delegate, North Texas

South Central Jurisdiction Conference 2022 Resolution 22-02
Support of a U.S. Regional Conference
A resolution to the 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference
WHEREAS the seven Central Conferences and five U.S. Jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church engage in mission together in 136 countries; and
WHEREAS the connectional ties between the church in the United States and the Central Conferences are significant and vital to the continued mission and ministry of the worldwide United Methodist Church; and
WHEREAS the existing structure of The United Methodist Church at the general church level has historically impeded each region from effectively tailoring its ministry to its specific contexts; and
WHEREAS the existing structure of The United Methodist Church at the general church level diminishes our ability to be a vital and effective church and needs to be re-envisioned to achieve more fair and equitable church governance; and
WHEREAS the creation of a U.S. Regional Conference and the conversion of the Central Conferences to Regional Conferences, as outlined in the Christmas Covenant, developed by Central Conference leaders in Africa and the Philippines, would establish structural parity throughout the worldwide church; and
WHEREAS the creation of a U.S. Regional Conference, as outlined in legislation put forward by the Connectional Table will establish the governance necessary to allow each region to design ministry for its particular contexts, and thus more effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world; and
WHEREAS the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church continues to work toward inclusion and justice for all God’s people; and
WHEREAS the South Central Jurisdiction aspires to vital, thriving, multicultural, and diverse ministries that are open to all people and can be a beacon of hope for the worldwide United Methodist Church. 
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church supports the expressed intents of the Christmas Covenant and Connectional Table legislation, including the creation of Regional Conferences in Africa, Europe, the Philippines, and the U.S., respectively; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Central Jurisdiction recognizes and supports the leadership of our Central Conferences in the creation and furtherance of the Christmas Covenant as well the Connectional Table’s future visioning on behalf of our worldwide fellowship; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Central Jurisdiction urges every Annual Conference within its boundaries to support both the Christmas Covenant and Connectional Table proposals to establish a fair and equitable general church structure; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the South Central Jurisdiction urges the Council of Bishops to expedite the process of voting on the constitutional amendments necessary to enact the regional conferences legislation, calling special sessions of annual conferences where necessary; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in line with the intent of the non-disciplinary petition submitted by the Connectional Table, the South Central Jurisdiction requests the Council of Bishops to immediately appoint a 20-25 member Interim Committee on Organization for a US Regional Conference to develop and propose to the 2024 general conference the structure and organization of a US Regional Conference. In line with the CT’s legislation, this body would organize and plan for the establishment and functioning of a new United States Regional Conference comprising the five jurisdictions of the United States. Committee membership should have a minimum of 3 members of each US jurisdiction, 3 central conference members and shall meet standards of racial and gender diversity. The Committee should recommend a structure for the US Regional Conference including considerations such as its membership, committee structure, meeting time, agency, and function; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Jurisdiction Conference Secretary shall send copies of this resolution to all delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences, including alternates, from the South Central Jurisdiction and to the Commission on the General Conference.
Submitted by:
Rev. Kim Jenne
Clergy delegate, Missouri

South Central Jurisdiction Conference 2022

Resolution 22-03

QUEER DELEGATES’ CALL TO CENTER JUSTICE AND EMPOWERMENT

FOR LGBTQIA+¹ PEOPLE IN THE UMC

Resolution to the 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference

Whereas, in a groundswell response to the passage of harmful legislation at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, Annual Conferences elected queer clergy and lay persons to be General and Jurisdictional Delegates in record numbers, for the first time empowering queer delegates to speak and act from our diverse experiences, and

Whereas, the 2019 Special Session of the United Methodist General Conference passed the Traditional Plan, which increased penalties for United Methodists clergy who are LGBTQIA+ and for clergy who support the LGBTQIA+ community through officiating their weddings, and

Whereas, in an attempt to address the divide within The United Methodist Church, an abeyance or moratorium was proposed to the General Conference, referenced below,² by the authors of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, and

Whereas, we understand our call and responsibility as United Methodists to do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God, and

Whereas, we call straight and cisgender allies to do good by using their voice and vote to support, empower, and amplify the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community in The United Methodist Church, Therefore be it resolved that the 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church:

1. Supports and amplifies the queer delegates’ call to justice and empowerment for the LGBTQIA+ community in our Jurisdiction, within and beyond our churches and agencies;

2. Affirms the spirit of the abeyance or moratorium as proposed to the General Conference, as referenced above, until changes can be made in The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

3. Implores our member Annual Conferences to either not pursue or resolve in an appropriately timely fashion through a non-punitive, just resolution process any complaints against clergy regarding their sexual orientation or clergy who officiate weddings of LGBTQIA+ persons;

4. Urges that as a Jurisdiction we either not pursue or resolve in an appropriately timely fashion through a non-punitive, just resolution process any complaints against Bishops regarding their sexual orientation or those who officiate weddings of LGBTQIA+ persons;

5. Supports the election of episcopal leaders who commit to upholding this resolution and who will further justice for and empowerment of LGBTQIA+ people in the annual conferences where they serve;

6. Commits to a future of The United Methodist Church where LGBTQIA+ people will be protected, affirmed, and empowered in the life and ministry of the church in our Jurisdiction, including as laity, ordained clergy, in the episcopacy, and on boards and agencies.

Submitted by the following queer delegates from the South Central Jurisdiction:

Jesi Lipp, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, South Central

Adam Philley, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, South Central

Hidden Faithful, General Conference Delegate, South Central

Support by the following queer delegates from other Jurisdictions:

Walker Brault, Reserve Delegate, North Central

Bill Brownson, General Conference Delegate, North Central

Britt Cox, Reserve Delegate, North Central

Hidden Faithful, General Conference Delegate, North Central

Hidden Faithful, General Conference Delegate, North Central

Gregory Gross, General Conference Delegate, North Central

Alberto Hidalgo , Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, North Central

Fred Lewis, General Conference Delegate, North Central

Bobbi Ruddock, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, North Central

Hannah Bonner, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Kaleigh Corbett-Rasmussen, General Conference Delegate, Northeastern Ann Craig,

Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Rev. Dr. Becca Girrell, General Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Claire Holston, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Jorge Lockward, General Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Effie McAvoy , General Conference Delegate, Northeastern

J.J. Warren, General Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, General Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Leo Yates, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Northeastern

Jessica Barber Scott, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Matt Dailey, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Mark Elder, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Rushing Kimball, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Antony Larry, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Caleb Parker, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Helen Ryde, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Derrick Scott III, General Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Rye Standifer, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Southeastern

Austin Adkinson, Reserve Delegate, Western

John Angermayr, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Elizabeth Brick, General Conference Delegate, Western

Cedrick Bridgeforth , General Conference Delegate, Western

Megan Burg, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Becca Cramer-Mowder, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Rev Mary Klaehn, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Randall Miller, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Jan Nelson, General Conference Delegate, Western

Kylie Nelson, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Kristin Stoneking, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Jason Takagi, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Phillip Valdes , Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Kathleen Weber, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

Wendy Woodworth, General Conference Delegate, Western

Frank Wulf, Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, Western

1. As delegates, we choose to describe ourselves using the umbrella term “queer,” but refer to the broader community of persons with the LGBTQIA+ acronym.

2. “Effective immediately upon adjournment of the 2020 General Conference, no complaint proceedings (including, without limitation, a bishop’s supervisory response, suspension proceedings, attempts to achieve a just resolution, or referral of a complaint) shall be initiated, and all current or pending complaint proceedings shall be suspended, insofar as the alleged Book of Discipline violation asserted in the complaint is that the respondent is a ‘self-avowed practicing homosexual’ (however that term may be defined, including, without limitation, living in a same-gender marriage, domestic partnership or civil union); that the respondent has conducted, officiated, performed, celebrated, or blessed a same-gender wedding or other same-gender union; that the respondent has certified, licensed, commissioned, ordained, consecrated, or appointed a ‘self-avowed practicing homosexual’; that the respondent has provided ‘funds to any gay caucus or group’ or used funds ‘to promote the acceptance of homosexuality’; or that the respondent has otherwise engaged in conduct that The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church currently states is ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ as it pertains to LGBTQ relationships. This moratorium on all new and pending complaint proceedings concerning human sexuality provisions applies not only to charges that are explicitly based on ¶ 2702.1b, but also to any charge that the same alleged underlying conduct constitutes a chargeable offense under any other provision of the Discipline, including (without limitation) ‘immorality’ under ¶ 2702.1a; ‘disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church’ under ¶ 2702.1d; and ‘dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church’ under ¶ 2702.1e. This moratorium is inclusive of charges related to the following paragraphs: ¶ 161, ¶ 304.3, ¶ 310.2, ¶ 341.6, ¶ 613.19, ¶ 806.9, and ¶ 2702.1b. This moratorium does not apply to charges under any of these provisions in which the underlying alleged actions address a different subject matter, including but not limited to sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. This moratorium shall remain in effect until the close of the first General Conference of The United Methodist Church after other denominations separate. Any complaints pertaining to this paragraph filed during this period shall be held in abeyance, and no time limits shall commence until the above-referenced General Conference has concluded.” -From the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation

A Letter from Pastor Forrest
September 19, 2022

 

To the people of Asbury,

On Monday, September 19th, 2022 the Administrative Council voted to begin a six-month discernment process to assess our future in the United Methodist Church. Last month, we held a church wide meeting to provide an update on the conflict within our denomination as well as what our options for the future are.

At this time, there is a temporary provision within the Book of Discipline which will allow a church to disaffiliate from the UMC while keeping its property. This is critical, as every UM church’s property is owned by its annual conference and held in trust by the local church.Normally, if a UM church voted to disaffiliate, it would lose its property. We have an opportunity before us to leave with no legal complications while maintaining ownership of our building. But that opportunity expires in December 2023.

Here’s why this matters right now: in order to disaffiliate and keep our property, the annual conference has to vote to approve our decision. Annual conference meets in June. And, we need to inform them by May at the latest that we have voted to disaffiliate in order to get our church on the agenda for June.

And prior to voting to disaffiliate, we are required to spend six months discerning what the best path forward is. Information on that process and its specific requirements can be found here: https://riotexas.org/discerning-pathways-disaffiliation-documents So, the sooner we begin the discernment process, the better.

I want to be clear: I do not know if Asbury will vote to disaffiliate. In fact, after our church-wide information meeting last month, what I’ve heard from almost everyone in attendance is that they don’t know what the best choice for Asbury is, but they think we should do the discernment process to find out.

As part of this process, we will spend more time explaining why there is division within the UMC (it’s not just about same-sex marriage), provide more information on the newly-formed Global Methodist Church as well as other paths we might choose, and we’ll discuss openly how either staying in the UMC or leaving will affect Asbury and our ministries. 

At the end of the discernment process, we will take a vote. In order to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church, we would need a 2/3 majority vote- and only members of Asbury are allowed to vote. This means that, if you have not joined our church and been added to the membership rolls by the time the vote is taken, you cannot participate in the vote.

My friends, I won’t pretend that I don’t have my own thoughts and opinions on this. But I am committed to being the pastor at Asbury no matter what the church decides. If you vote to remain in the UMC, I will remain with you. If you vote to leave the UMC, I will leave with you. I am convinced that God brought me to Asbury, and I won’t leave until I’m certain He’s calling me elsewhere. Lord willing, that won’t happen for many years!

In the meantime, the most important thing we can do is pray. That, in fact, is the single most important part of any discernment process. We will pray for our church. We will pray that God guides us and shows us the way forward. We will pray for grace and kindness towards those with whom we disagree, and we will pray for unity on the other side of the discernment process.

If we trust that God is the one guiding us, we should all trust that, however this turns out, whatever path Asbury chooses for our future, we are following where God leads.

I am always willing to discuss the discernment process, the division within the UMC, and the pros and cons of either staying or leaving with anyone who wants to ask. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to share them with me.

In Christ,
Reverend Forrest Deviney.

Helpful Resources

Educate yourself before making a decision

Information about the Global Methodist Church
Adam Hamilton at Houston Chapelwood UMC
The United Methodist Church is Divided and Dividing
Our Differences Regarding the Bible
Our Differences Regarding Jesus
Our Differences Regarding Sexuality
Why It's Time for Traditionalists to Leave
Where Should We Go?