On Saturday, June 13, 2015 the Florida Annual Conference voted on and passed a resolution encouraging a Just Resolution for all complaints filed against ministers officiating at same-sex weddings.

RMN executive director, Matt Berryman, celebrates this vote:

“Y’all Means All: Good News from the South!

Greetings to you all in the name of the Risen Christ! I want to highlight an important action taken by the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Today, the pastoral concerns around LGBTQ discrimination have been named in a resolution from the Florida Annual Conference. These compassionate and caring clergy are wrestling with their call and have determined, by resolution, that they do not want to be placed in the position of having to deny the rite of marriage to qualified persons of the same sex.

They do not, in short, want to be forced by the church to do harm. In accordance with the General Rules, they seek to 1. Do No Harm 2. Do Good. and 3. Stay in love with God.

They do not want the many queer children, queer youth, and queer adults in the great state of Florida to hear a word of condemnation. They want queer people to know a God of Love.

We celebrate Florida’s leadership in the southeastern Jurisdiction of The UMC through this vote and look forward to seeing how Florida will lead the South toward a deeper sense of the arc and trajectory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Below is the resolution as it was voted on today:

ENCOURAGING JUST RESOLUTION PROCESS

Whereas, it is now legal in the state of Florida for same-sex couples to be married.

Whereas, it is only a matter of time until scores of our ordained elders in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church are asked by their sons, daughters, long-time members of their congregation or members of the community to either officiate or request the use of United Methodist church buildings to host same-sex weddings.

Whereas, those requests are in direct conflict with our United Methodist Book of Discipline ¶341.6 and ¶2702.1b (BOD 2012) and could be interpreted as unauthorized conduct or chargeable offenses that could lead to church trials. Pastors and leaders of our congregations will be put in the unfortunate position time and time again of having to choose between these portions of the Book of Discipline and the section that states “we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.” (BOD 2012, ¶161)

Whereas, on the national scene we have recently had two examples of addressing complaints brought against clergy within our denomination in the cases of The Rev. Frank Schaefer and Bishop Melvin G. Talbert. The ensuing aftermath of the church trial involving the Rev. Frank Schaefer, his bishop, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference brought on enormous negative publicity toward our denomination with its decision to remove Rev. Schaefer’s ministerial credentials and then reinstate those credentials. It was also financially costly and very time consuming drawing precious resources away from critical ministries of the church. With the complaint brought against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, the episcopal leadership involved determined that the just resolution process as outlined in ¶363.1c was an appropriate option to resolve the complaint. That process was much more humane and dignified.

Whereas, it was requested in Just Resolution Agreement related to Bishop Talbert, “that the 2 Council of Bishops acknowledge that ways of resolving disagreements within a community of faith 3 should be distinct from those of a civil judicial process.”

Be it therefore resolved, that this meeting of the Florida Annual Conference strongly encourage our bishop and cabinet that any complaint brought forward against an ordained pastor or against a congregation in violation of ¶341.6 or ¶2702.1b be resolved through just resolution rather than through a church trial.

Note: This resolution brings no additional financial cost to any Conference agency or committee and there are no programmatic implications for which a Conference staff person would be responsible.

Lynette Fields, Lay delegate, St. Luke’s UMC, Orlando, FL

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