John Lomperis is IRD’s United Methodist Director. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago, and has an M.Div from Harvard University.
Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference was a part of the Unity Task Force of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, but has also been a longtime champion of the LGBT cause. (photo credit: United Methodist News Service)
A caucus group of evangelicals within the Chicago area of the United Methodist Church has released their own statement challenging Bishop Sally Dyck’s recent statement urging the Illinois state legislature to redefine civil marriage to include same-sex couples.
Lamenting that “the general public will assume that Bishop Dyck speaks for our entire Church,” the Northern Illinois Conference Evangelical Association (NICEA) publicly sets the record straight. The NICEA statement notes that the bishop’s expressed “personal opinion” is actually contrary to the UMC’s official position, which has expressly defined marriage as between a man and a woman since at least 1972, and has separately, overwhelmingly “support[ed] laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman” since 2004.
The NICEA statement also notes how out of all of the specific sexuality-related policies debated within the UMC (the church’s general statement on sexual morality, clergy standards, etc.), our marriage stand “garners the broadest support within the Church.” Indeed, when now-IRD President Mark Tooley submitted the “laws in civil society” language in 2004 it was approved by 77 percent of voting General Conference delegates, while liberal activists gave up on even contesting this stand at the 2012 General Conference.
We have previously reported on Bishop Dyck’s jumping into the political fray with her selective citation of United Methodist social teaching, which almost immediately evolved into a fundraising drive for the Chicago-based Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). RMN is a caucus group that pursues a militant “any-means-necessary” ethos in promoting acceptance of gay marriage and extramarital sex within our denomination.
The full text of NICEA’s statement is below:
Bishop’s statement does not represent Church on Gay Marriage
In response to United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck’s endorsement of gay marriage, the Northern Illinois Conference Evangelical Association (NICEA) Chairman, James Blue, issued the following statement:
What Bishop Dyck has expressed is her personal opinion.
It does not reflect the official position of the United Methodist Church in which the definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” was first articulated in 1972. A separate but related action in 2004 called upon the church to “support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Unfortunately, the general public will assume that Bishop Dyck speaks for our entire Church. She does not. Support for traditional marriage has received overwhelming majority support at all recent quadrennial General Conferences where all United Methodists are represented. Support of traditional marriage is the one issue, among all sexually-related issues, that garners the broadest support within the Church.
We regret the disunity that Bishop Dyck’s statement will inevitably bring to local congregations and we encourage the Illinois General Assembly to find another way to ensure the civil rights of gay couples without redefining marriage which has for millennia, been the foundational unit of human society.
Follow United Methodist Director John Lomperis on Twitter: @JohnLomperis