June was a month full of so many emotions both heartbreaking and joyous. My time traveling to eight Annual Conferences across the southeast was wonderful. I am so grateful for all the fabulous people I met along the way, doing great work, in sometimes challenging environments. I’ve attempted to put together a quick overview of what happened at each Annual Conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. I’ve focused mainly on resolutions/petitions that pertain specifically to the inclusion of LGBTQ people in The UMC. Obviously, much more than that happened at each Annual Conference, but this is my focus here.
A resolution was passed approximately 60/40 to encourage General Conference 2016 to maintain the current language discriminating against LGBTQ people. However, this vote split much closer than previously expected.
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. Full details and a comment from Matt Berryman can be found here.
With a count of 531 to 227, the Annual Conference voted in favor of a motion to “table indefinitely” a petition to the General Conference to revise language in the Book of Disciple regarding homosexuality. The vote followed an emotional 50 minute discussion including eight people at the microphones who spoke for or against the motion and the issue
There were 10 Resolutions/Petitions at Kentucky Annual Conference, of which 8 pertained either directly or indirectly to the conversation around LGBTQ people and how we are in ministry with them (us!). Of these eight, four were not supported, one was withdrawn and three were supported.
- Petition for Disaffiliation for Reasons of Conscience: Not supported
- Petition of Clergy Pension Preserved: Not supported
- Petition of Complainant as party to just resolution: Supported
- Petition on Definition of Just Resolution: Supported
- Petition on Revision of Episcopal Complaint Process: Supported
- Petition for Mandatory Penalty For Violation of: Not supported
- Discipline ¶ 340 (Responsibilities and Duties of Elders and LicensedPastors): Not supported
- Addition of Discipline Paragraph 673 (District Committee on Marital Covenants): Withdrawn
The Clergy for Inclusion group submitted a Resolution to ask the Memphis Conference to take part in district wide conversations about the inclusion of LGBT people – the Resolution was supported. The complete wording can be found here.
There were 16 petitions presented at Mississippi Annual Conference. Of these 16, 14 were added to a Consent Calendar which was approved. Of these 14 petitions, three were related directly or indirectly to maintaining the exclusion of LGBTQ people. One additional petition, also seeking continued and increased exclusion and discrimination, was brought to the floor of Annual Conference, discussed and overwhelmingly passed. It was not a comfortable or safe place to be for LGBTQ people and their allies.
You can read the petitions here (pages 128 – 135). Petitions 11, 12 and 13 were part of the Consent Calendar, petition 16 was the one discussed on the floor.
North Alabama passed, almost unanimously, a Resolution aimed at reducing harm done to LGBTQ teens. The full text of the resolution is here. The passed resolution reflected a collaboration between two clergy who approach the topic of LGBTQ inclusion from very different theologies – read more about how the collaboration came about here.
MFSA NC, Reconciling United Methodists and Friends NC and Epworth UMC, Durham submitted a resolution to remove discriminatory language in the Book of Discipline (full text here, page 7). The resolution failed by an extraordinarily small margin of just 22 votes.
Three resolutions recommending the Annual Conference petition the General Conference to change language in the Book of Discipline regarding same sex marriage and LGBT people failed to pass, although the voting was closer than previous years on such matters. Full text of the resolutions can be found here, starting on page 174.
Red Bird Missionary
I had hoped to attend the Red Bird Missionary Annual Conference, but my invitation was sent in error (a longer story than we have time for here). However, never doubt that God is in control. The RMN table at Kentucky Annual Conference was directly next to the Red Bird Missionary Conference table! I was able to have several great conversations and make contacts for future visits.
Annual Conference approved a resolution to oppose bullying in all its forms and to create a safe space for all children of God regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, culture, citizenship, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation and physical or mental ability. The resolution, which passed 997 to 180, also calls upon United Methodists to respond to acts of bullying with acts of compassion and take a public stand against hate speech, exclusion, harassment and acts of intimidation and violence.
Delegates debated a petition to ask General Conference to amend the language of Paragraph 161F of the Book of Discipline. This petition asked to remove a sentence that says, “Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The petition failed by a 705-519 vote.
Trinity UMC and Asbury Memorial UMC, both in Savannah, GA, submitted resolutions to Annual Conference. These both failed by about 20/80, but local Reconcilers were encouraged that the discussion happened and that paper ballots were allowed. They also heard from new voices supporting their resolutions. Full text of the resolutions can be found here, starting on page 156.
Tennessee Annual Conference passed a resolution mandating District-wide conversations and dialog about LGBTQ inclusion in the life of the church. Full text of the resolution can be found here.
Virginia Annual Conference debated three petitions relating to LGBTQ inclusion, two of which (petitions 2 and 11) would have increased discrimination and one of which (petition 14) would remove the incompatibility clause (this one signed by 270+ clergy and laity). The voting was done by paper ballot, with the following results:
Petition 2 — not adopted – 838 yes; 961 no; 96 abstentions. (1895 total)
Petition 11 — not adopted – 811 yes; 994 no; 96 abstentions. (1901 total)
Petition 14 — adopted – 989 yes; 868 no; 40 abstentions; (1897 total)
Full text of the petitions can be found here, petition 2 on page 158, petition 11 on page 169 and petition 14 on page 173.
Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina Annual Conference debated two petitions related to LGBTQ inclusion. The petition to promote healthy conversations, specifically around human sexuality was adopted. The petition to remove the incompatibilty clause was not adopted, by a vote of 763 against, 568 in favor.
The full text of the petitions can be found here, starting on page 106.
- Southeastern Jurisdiction Annual Conference Summary - July 7, 2015
- Indigo redemption - August 14, 2013