Top court to look at rulings on gay-related statements

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño addresses the Western Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church during its July 2012 meeting in San Diego. Carcaño ruled during a June 2013 meeting of the California-Pacific Annual (regional) Conference that the Statement of Biblical Obedience passed in 2012 did not violate the legal authority of the denomination?s Book of Discipline. A UMNS file photo courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Conference Communications Team.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño addresses the United Methodist Western Jurisdictional Conference in July 2012 in San Diego. A UMNS file photo courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Conference Communications Team.

Rulings on recent actions by United Methodist annual (regional) conferences regarding church law on homosexuality issues will be considered by the denomination’s top court this fall.

Those decisions of law by bishops are among the 17 docket items on the United Methodist Judicial Council’s agenda when it meets Oct. 23-26 at the Sheraton City Center in Baltimore. No oral hearings are scheduled for this meeting.

During the 2013 annual conference season, most conferences in the Western Jurisdiction renewed their support of the “Statement of Gospel Obedience,” which claims the church is in error on the subject of homosexuality’s incompatibility with Christian teaching.

A supporting resolution by the California-Pacific Annual Conference prompted a request for a bishop’s decision of law, resulting in an automatic review by Judicial Council.

The adopted resolution on “Biblical Obedience” supports the call from the Western Jurisdiction “to operate as if the statement in Para. 161F does not exist.” California-Pacific Conference leaders are encouraged “to consider this resolution as a guideline should any disciplinary actions result in living out this call to be an inclusive church.”

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño ruled July 15 that the resolution “does not violate the legal authority of the Book of Discipline in that it does not require any person, office or body within the church to violate the Book of Discipline.”

A New York Conference resolution, upheld by Bishop Martin McLee, commends both named and unnamed clergy, laity and congregations “whose bold actions and courageous statements help to provide for the pastoral needs of same-sex couples within The United Methodist Church.”

Judicial Council also will review action regarding a bishop’s decision on the Western Jurisdiction statement during the 2012 conference, when a question was ruled “moot” because of a typographical error.

At its April 2013 meeting, the council, which previously has said such an error in a question does “not necessarily negate the legitimacy of the questions,” remanded the question of law back to the bishop.

Ruling on clergy question

In another sexuality case, Bishop James E. Dorff’s ruling in June that a question about the decision by the board of ordained ministry of the Southwest Texas Annual (regional) Conference to drop a clergy candidate from the ordination process was “as presented, moot and hypothetical” also will be reviewed by the top court.

The candidate, Mary Ann Kaiser, is a lesbian. The youth director and justice associate at University United Methodist Church in Austin, she had received the backing of her district committee for ordination.

The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, bans “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from “being certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” But Kaiser and her supporters say due process was not followed when her certification as a candidate was reversed.

A docket item from the North Carolina Annual Conference concerns the question of whether the conference’s financial contribution to the state’s council of churches violates church law about supporting the advocacy of homosexuality. Stan Kimer, an openly gay lay leader in the Metropolitan Community Churches, is the council’s immediate past president.

In other business, three docket items focus on lines of authority and connections between the Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference and “A Future with Hope,” the program established to assist churches, communities and individuals with recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Questions about reorganizational plans or changes of structure at the denomination’s annual (regional) conference level are raised in docket items related to the North Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina conferences.

Two docket items relate to the office of bishop in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines.

See the full October 2013 docket.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe and contact her at (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.



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  1. scoho

    The statement that “most conferences in the Western Jurisdiction support the gospel of obedience”, I question. Maybe all those Bishops who represent their juridictions do, but there are many people in local churches throughout the entire Western Jurisdiction that do not support this twisted unbiblical “gospel”.

  2. cyfever

    The bible says it is not up to us to judge

    1. ryan

      Where does it say this? The Bible never tells us not to make moral determinations. The Bible does tell us not to believe we know whether people will be condemned or saved at the day of judgement. I don’t really understand what you are getting at.
      Do you believe we shouldn’t say things like murder, and war, and pornography are wrong? Do you believe Jesus never wants us to point to the good and right and the just?

    2. Lewis Culpepper

      The Bible also tells us to judge, but not hypocritical as you refer to in Matt. See Ps. 37:30; Rev. 20:4; John 7:24; and 1 Corn. 6:2.

  3. James V Lyles

    I agree with the Bishop. The United Methodist is out of step with the global movement toward peace, equality and justice.

    1. ryan

      Homosexuality brings brokenness because it is itself a brokenness. Jesus came to love and heal. May we all be healed from all of our brokennesses, even our sexual brokenness which may or may not include the brokenness of homosexuality.

  4. John Battern

    It is immaterial whether or not one individual, one bishop or a whole group of individuals and bishops believe the UMC is wrong. UM clergy are a covenantal group who have promised to uphold our Discipline as established through holy conferencing. If people want to be a part of a church where they can do whatever they think is right, there are congregations and denominations which allow for that. The UMC isn’t one of them.

  5. Rick Spiegel

    you are correct,God has already judged it to be an obomination.

    1. James V Lyles

      Rick be careful how you say what God has done. You don’t know any gay people because they don’t wear signs. With or without signs they are just like all of us-“members of the broken family of God.” Free yourself of judgment which is the first step toward hate.

      1. Dr. Todd

        Well Rick because the Bible, which the UMC claims to base its doctrine upon, condemns homosexual practices, along with adultery, murder, theft, greed, gluttony and other things. They can be forgiven but we err greatly to decide they are not wrong in the first place. Simply repeating what God’s Word already says is hardly being judgmental.

  6. Lynn Geer

    The Pope recently spoke about Churches being obsessed about small-minded rules. Our United Methodist Church has focused on “Open minds, open doors, and open hearts”. Can’t we be open to a welcoming, inclusive environment? Small-minded rules are infringing on my Christian walk.

    1. Jonathan Woods

      Protestantism run amuck. It won’t be long before plural marriages are deemed to be holy too.

  7. dtkeefe

    then go to a denomination that caters to your whims. There are plenty to choose from.

  8. Mike

    There is nothing wrong with making judgments. Without making judgments of right and wrong, we simply descend into a morass of moral relativism and we cease to be the Church. It is an error to automatically equate making judgments about behavior with hate. The first (making judgments) is necessary to the Christian life, but the second (hate) is to be avoided.

    Saying divorce, lying, or theft is wrong is not to hate people who have had divorces, or who deceive or steal. We are all broken sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Therefore, to say homosexuality is morally wrong does not mean we should go out and hate gay people. It’s another thing entirely, however, to ask the Church to sanctify the practice of homosexuality.

    I have my own sins and shortcomings as a person, and I certainly don’t have anything against gays who are practicing Christians and are struggling with their own issues. However, the difference is that I don’t appear before the Church and ask it to turn a blind eye or even to bless those shortcomings just because “that’s just who I am” or because “I was born that way.”

  9. Timothy Mark Bennett

    This whole gay, lesbian, transgender issue is going to drive my entire family from Methodism. I am tired of hearing about it, seeing rainbows, and basically having this shoved down my throat. I can’t stand much more. If these folks wish to come to church – fine – but to perform weddings, have them as ministers, lay members, Sunday School teachers only promotes this type of behavior. This group does not even repent or attempt to turn away from their sin. I, personally, am one of the biggest sinners in my church, but at least I do try not to keep doing the same things over, although; I am not very successful at times. Please drop this crazy, liberal stuff and protect our future. I am not the only one with these feelings – keep it up and you will see more and more members leaving for a better relationship with God.

    1. cyfever

      The hatred I see in these posts is appalling.

      1. Viper

        What is appalling is this constant equating of disagreement as hatred. What I read is most people believe the behavior is not ok, but don’t ‘hate’ the people partaking in this behavior. Get over yourselves. I am also tired of being labeled a homophobe if i disagree with the behavior. I have no fear of gays, so the tactic is a ridiculous application of the word. This is the same liberal tactic as disagreeing with the president makes you a racist. All you accomplish while using these tactics is to display your inability have an intelligent conversation. The argument for this and all progressive agenda items is “accept what I say or want without facts or coherent argument or I will label you phobic, racist, a hater, a bagger, extremist, etc”. Pathetic…it only shows you have lost the argument. I have gay friends, but I don’t condone. Under the constitution they can do what they want, but I don’t have to like it.

      2. Debbie Mallis

        I agree. These posts are full of hatred and judgment but the posters don’t even recognize it as such. Jesus never said one word about homosexuality. People are born with a sexual orientation; you could say that God made them this way. I am reading statements that people don’t hate gays yet there is no acceptance or love for them as fellow human beings. We are all loved by God. These comments makes me so sad. I fear that our church eventually will split over this.

        1. ryan

          You seem to not understand the Doctrines of Original Sin and Total Depravity. You seem to not know that the Church teaches that every one of us born after The Fall are having a sin nature from conception. That we are born guilty of sin and we sin because we are sinners. I do not dispute that people might be born with same sex attraction (of course this is realised later in life as with all sexuality). What I dispute is the notion that if people are born with it, it must be good. People are born with spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, alcoholism, and we don’t say these things are good because people were born with them. We treat them as illnesses, disorders, and diseases that are born out of something having gone wrong because of sin nature.
          The Biblical and Church teaching on homosexuality is clear through the ages. And Jesus did not address homosexuality. He did address the proper use of sexuality, and he quoted Genesis on this matter. He reaffirmed the marital covenant is between one man and one woman. This definition of the parameters of the use of God’s good gift of sexuality is actually pre-fall, and Jesus reiterates it post-fall.
          Also, I do have gay friends. We have gay people in our church. Some of them are practicing celibacy. Others I probably don’t know about. We have a bigger problem with heterosexual sins than homosexual sins in our church. We don’t single one or the other out, but we attempt to point people to truth in Jesus.

    2. Paul Jeffrey

      Yea, those rainbows are really tiring.

  10. eldon

    I attended the Cal-Pac conference. I heard a mother of a homosexual child say that God made her that way and that as christians we should be more accepting and tolerant. She said that she didn’t want to go home and tell her child that her church rejected her. You could feel her anguish. The resolution passed.
    We’re all sinners. Born that way. The difference between christians and practicing homosexuals is that christians have repented of their sins and are reborn through our faith in Jesus Christ. I wanted to tell this loving mother that this way was open to her child also. There should be no need for this resolution if we understand what God is saying to us.

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