Reconciling Ministries Network is grateful for the work of the Judicial Council on a docket of eighteen cases this past week, many of which deeply impact the work of advocacy toward LGBTQ justice and inclusion in the Church.
Among its decisions, the Judicial Council ruled that the Taylor Plan, a blueprint for congregations seeking disaffiliation from the denomination, is constitutional and is currently in effect. It also affirmed the call and ordination of LGBTQ clergy in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference and permitted aspirational resolutions of opposition to the Traditionalist Plan.
However, the Judicial Council also issued no opinion on the constitutionality, application, or effect of some petitions of the Traditional Plan, and it ruled unconstitutional the portions of annual conference resolutions calling for decisive acts of resistance against discrimination. Additionally, it deferred decision-making on the constitutionality of the New England Annual Conference interpretation of the Taylor Plan, and it claimed no power to answer questions posed by the Alaska United Methodist Conference regarding the conference’s discernment process about affiliation with the denomination.
The rulings of the Judicial Council leave the Church with little direction and in continued tumult. The January 1 implementation date of the Traditionalist Plan looms near, and General Conference 2020 lies only six months from today. In the absence of decisive direction from the Church’s highest court, RMN affirms the groundswell of resistance against codified LGBTQ discrimination already springing forth around the connection.
With unprecedented growth in the Reconciling movement, bold new forms of Reconciling ministries, and the emergence of new allies, a Church that affirms LGBTQ persons is already taking shape. The United Methodist Church is still comprised of the people of the Spirit imbued with the power of the Spirit. As such, the people of The United Methodist Church possess the power to build LGBTQ-affirming communities and places of worship in their own locales and regions, even if that authority is not affirmed by the Church’s governing bodies. As General Conference 2020 draws near, RMN remains committed to the establishment of LGBTQ justice and inclusion in whatever new forms the Church will take through acts of resistance, resources, grassroots organizing, and prayer.