Out of concern for the welfare of all God’s people, and, out of special concern for the people of The United Methodist Church, we, United Methodist Bishops – retired, believe The United Methodist Church should remove the following statement from The Book of Discipline (2008):
“…The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” ¶304.3
Our lives and ministries over the years have included prayerful, thoughtful consideration of our Holy Bible, our Wesleyan heritage, reflection on our experience of the church and world, and our conviction of God’s intention for a world transformed.
With this statement of conviction and counsel we seek:
- To affirm that the historic tests of “gifts and evidence of God’s grace” for ordained ministry override any past or present temporal restrictions such as race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
- To urge the Church, ecumenical and denominational, to change the manner in which it relates to gay, lesbian and transgendered persons in official statements, judicial proceedings, and in congregational life.
- To declare our conviction that the current disciplinary position of The United Methodist Church, a part of our historical development, need not, and should not, be embraced as the faithful position for the future.
- To make known our names and shared personal conviction on this matter and to encourage other church and Episcopal leaders to do the same.
The date April 11, 2011 has been set for a church trial against Rev. Amy DeLong. The trial will be at First UMC in Appleton, WI with Bishop Bruce Blake presiding. You can follow this trial at www.loveontrial.org. Below is the reluctant statement from the Committee on Investigation:
(December 10, 2010) The Committee on Investigation for the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (“Committee”), after a duly noticed hearing on December 7, 2010 pursuant to ¶2706.4 of the Discipline, and after considering the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing by the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (“Wisconsin Annual Conference”) and the Respondent, Rev. Amy Delong, sends forward the following Bill of Charges and Specifications pursuant to ¶2706.5 of the Discipline.
Rev. Amy Delong has shown extraordinary courage to step forward and freely acknowledge her sexual orientation, and her commitment to be in ministry to all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The Judicial Complaint is based on chargeable offenses in ¶2702.1b of the Discipline arising from Rev. Delong’s sexual orientation. These charges present a fundamentally unjust circumstance. The Committee is required to consider whether reasonable grounds support these chargeable offenses, yet Chargeable offenses based on sexual orientation are inconsistent with Social Principles in the Discipline that address Human Sexuality and Equal Rights Regardless of Sexual Orientation.The Social Principles in the Discipline are foundational. They represent the General Conference’s prayerful and thoughtful effort to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation as historically demonstrated in United Methodist traditions. And while they are not to be considered church law, the Social Principles provide the official summary of stated convictions of the United Methodist Church that seek to apply the Christian vision of righteousness to social and other issues.