July 16, 2016

United Methodist Top Court To Rule on Gay Bishop

On July 15 the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, meeting in Wichita, Kansas, responded immediately to the Western Jurisdiction’s election of an openly gay bishop, in defiance of denominational law of the over 12 million member global church, by asking for a ruling from the church’s top court, the Judicial Council. Here is the text of that request, made by Kansas laywoman Dixie Brewster, and approved by 56% of delegates:


Bishop, I move that the South Central Jurisdictional Conference request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the following matter:

Is the nomination, election, consecration, and/or assignment as a bishop of The United Methodist Church of a person who claims to be a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” or is a spouse in a same-sex marriage lawful under The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.


What is the application, meaning and effect of ¶ 304.3, ¶ 310.2d, ¶ 341.6, and ¶ 2702.1 (a), (b), and (d) in regard to the nomination, election, consecration and/or assignment as bishop of a person who claims to be a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” or is a spouse in a same-sex marriage or civil union? Further —

• Does a public record that a nominee for the episcopacy is a spouse in a same-sex marriage disqualify that person from nomination, election, consecration and/or assignment as a bishop in The United Methodist Church?

• If a jurisdictional conference nominates, elects, consecrates, and/or assigns a person who, by virtue of being legally married or in a civil union under civil law to a same-sex partner, would be subject to a chargeable offense, is the action of the jurisdictional conference null and void?

• Is it lawful for one or more of the bishops of a jurisdiction to consecrate a person as bishop when the bishop-elect is known by public record to be a spouse in a same-sex marriage or civil union?

• When a bishop, district superintendent, district committee on ordained ministry, Board of Ordained Ministry, or clergy session becomes aware or is made aware that a clergy person is a spouse in a same sex marriage or civil union of public record, does such information in effect and in fact amount to a self-avowal of the practice of homosexuality as set forth in ¶ 304.3, related footnotes and related Judicial Council Decisions?

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11 Responses to United Methodist Top Court To Rule on Gay Bishop

  1. David Goudie says:

    I know this just happened, but do you know when the Judicial council will meet to decide on this case?

  2. Joan Watson says:

    This is one more action by a group that truly believes that they are not bound by the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church because they are “leading” the church into a wonderful new future; they are tired of the rest of us holding them back. I’m curious if they will even care what the Judicial Council rules on this matter.

  3. Philip says:

    This declaratory judgement will let us know what to do next. Right now, the GC is moot. I expect the GBCS to be next to violate the GC as there will be a rush of progressives to show they are more rebellious than the last.

  4. John S. says:

    Assuming the JC takes it, then considers all points, and actually rules on something other than technicalities, what are we looking at for resolution one year plus? In that time how much money from the rest of the denomination is going to the shrinking (except in number of bishops) western jurisdiction? Perhaps until this is resolved apportionments need to be withheld, possibly in escrow, by all the congregations that wish to uphold the BOD. Maybe then someone will listen.

    • Philip says:

      I think the response will be yes, no, yes, yes, etc. to each item. The JC may or may not elaborate on the answers. If the JC rules against the actions of the WJ, someone will have to file a specific complaint to start a trial going and that could take years. I would be surprised if the JC acts without a formal complaint or filing specifically against the new bishop or WJ, but I guess it is possible. I also would think that cutting of funds has to be specifically spelled out in some way as “punishment” in the BOD.

      If the JC rules that the jurisdiction can do whatever it wants, you will see conservatives leave as we have seen in the past.

      • the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

        If the JC rules against the actions of the Western Jurisdiction, the Council of bishops can and should refuse to seat her. Also, if the JC rules against the actions of the Western Jurisdiction, the general United Methodist church should refuse to pay her salary or expenses.

        In Christ,

        The enemy hates clarity

      • John S. says:

        I would think the GC could only withhold funds from the WJ if the JC made a decision that the WJ was in violation of the BOD and the WJ did not make the appropriate noise. This would probably require a formal process at the GC and if the WJ lost it would make the right sounds and it would drag on for years.

        I think it is time for the people to withhold the funds to ensure proper immediate attention is paid to this instead of the normal games.

  5. wesleyangun says:

    She is certainly the whole package: syncretist and apparently gnostic regarding the scriptures.

  6. Creed Pogue says:

    The Judicial Council can have an emergency session.

    The Judicial Council could vacate the election of Dr. Olivetto as well.

  7. Is there even one pastor or layperson in the Western Jurisdiction willing to file a formal complaint? Since this effects the whole denomination, does it require someone from the Western Jurisdiction to file it?

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