The Great Plains (Kan. and Neb.) bishop has rejected a proposal to resolve a complaint lodged against Rev. Cynthia Meyer who came out to her Edgerton, Kan. congregation during a Jan. 3rd sermon and has, instead, referred the matter to a United Methodist Church as counsel. The action is significant because it moves Rev. Meyer – a pastor in The UMC for 25 years – a step closer to a church trial just weeks away from The UMC’s General Conference, during which church policy is determined for the next four years. More than 800 delegates from across the country and around the world will meet in Portland, Ore. from May 10-20 to decide on whether to lift current prohibitions on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage, among other issues.
At a meeting last Monday, Bishop Scott Jones proposed that the Edgerton United Methodist Church could withdraw from The UMC and choose Rev. Meyer as its pastor, an extraordinary suggestion immediately rejected by Rev. Meyer. He also proposed that her ongoing credentials in The UMC be based on the outcome of the General Conference which will take up the anti-LGBTQ policies contained in its Book of Discipline, the governing document of the church.
The move by Bishop Jones seeks to postpone any decision on Rev. Meyer’s fate until the results of the General Conference are determined. It should be noted that Rev. Meyer is serving in a Conference that has – by a 60-40 vote – requested that the General Conference allow LGBTQ individuals to serve openly as pastors, and her peers on the Executive Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) rejected Bishop Jones’ initial request that Rev. Meyer be suspended. It would seem the will of the of the Great Plains Conference, the will of the Executive Committee of the BOM and the will of the Edgerton United Methodist Church is that she remain as pastor, but the institution remains opposed.
“On Epiphany Sunday, I stood before one tiny congregation and declared, ‘I will not live in the darkness.’ And now, I will not surrender my credentials or accept as ‘Just Resolution’ an unjust list of demands and contingencies,” said Rev. Meyer. “I will not ask that faithful congregation to leave the denomination it has lovingly served for decades. I will, instead, continue to follow the light of love, justice and full inclusion for all.” “
By every evaluation, Rev. Cynthia Meyer stands-out as a clergyperson of integrity, talent, and love—her leadership has been praised by colleagues and parishioners alike. That’s why it’s frankly stunning that Bishop Jones can’t imagine another way forward than for Rev. Meyer and her congregation to leave the UMC,” said RMN Executive Director Matt Berryman. “As faithful LGBTQ Methodists, what we hear from the bishop is ‘you and your kind are not welcome here.’”
Rev. Meyer chose to share her story as part of Reconciling Ministries Network’s (RMN) “It’s Time” campaign, focused on advancing LGBTQ equality within The UMC by influencing church policies at General Conference in May.
The proposals for resolution – from Rev. Meyer and from Bishop Jones – are available here.