Bishop Lowry states no moratorium in Central Texas

Bishop Mike Lowry and Deacon Jackson Henry preside over the May 20 communion service at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, OR.

Bishop J. Michael Lowry of the Ft. Worth Episcopal Area told the clergy of the Central Texas Annual Conference today that any thoughts of a moratorium on complaints and charges for conducting same-sex weddings was a mistaken interpretation of the Council of Bishops “Offering a Way Forward” proposal adopted by the 2016 General Conference, and that clergy engaging in same-gender weddings should expect to be held fully accountable to existing church law on such conduct.

Lowry made his statement in the opening plenary session of the Central Texas Annual Conference, meeting this week in Waco, TX, and subsequently published it on his personal blog.

Lowry drew attention to a sentence  in the bishops’ proposal that has been interpreted by some in the church and in the secular press as suggesting a moratorium on judicial actions until the Council of Bishops brings back a final proposal at a called General Conference to be held before the 2020 session in Minneapolis. The bishops’ wrote: “We will continue to explore options to help the church live in grace with one another – including ways to avoid further complaints, trials, and harm while we uphold the Discipline.”

“It has been erroneously reported that this involves a moratorium on complaints and charges related to the presiding over same-gender wedding,” Lowry said. “This is not so. Please carefully understand the operative sentence. “WE [the Bishops of the United Methodist Church] will uphold the Discipline.” [Emphasis Lowry’s]

Lowry continued by telling clergy in his area what would happen should they perform a same-gender wedding:

Should you choose to violate the Disciplinary provisions on same gender weddings, a complaint will be brought against you and if necessary charges will be filed.  Church law in The Discipline of the United Methodist Church has not been suspended. I will seek to live in grace pursuing meaningful just resolutions, but such just resolutions will be significant and have consequences.  I will up hold The Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

Lowry used his statement to promote the We Are More campaign, initiated by the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction. “We are more, far more as a church than simply wrangling about how we understand controversial social issues that confront us and society in general,” Lowry said. “I urge your careful attention to our #WeAreMore website and social media properties and the outstanding, life-changing work of Jesus Christ in and through the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

Lowry was elected to the episcopacy in 2008 and has served the Ft. Worth area during his tenure as a bishop of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to read Lowry’s full statement.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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9 Comments on "Bishop Lowry states no moratorium in Central Texas"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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David Vaughn

Thank goodness we have at least one bishop standing firm and upholding the Discipline. Will other bishops do what they need to do and reaffirm the official position of our BOD? Will they make it plain to their Annual Conferences that they are required to uphold the current stance? Or will we see a lot of tap-dancing, wavering, double-speak, and tongue-in-cheek pledges to hold the line?

Mike Tyler

Finally a Bishop with leadership qualities.

nhia wahn her

I’m sure he will say the same in the blue conferences even if he might get stone for what he believes. Thank you Bishop Lowry for honoring your vow and protecting your integrity.

james ballard

The problem with Bishop Lowry is that the conference leadership majority including his DS’s do not share his views. Or maybe they do. He may be simply choosing to follow the Discipline out of duty and a sense of integrity. But he choses progressive DS’s who persecute conservative pastors and churches. His conference leadership is about LBGTQ inclusion. He talks semi conservative but he leads with progressives. I got out of there.

Bill Krill

How is this ‘stance’ reconciled with the central message of love, compassion, and forgiveness that Jesus has given us? Cast the first stone, indeed. This is the self-righteousness killing the Bride of Christ, not who adults legitimately love or have sex with.

Tom Hansen
I am so frustrated that the Bishops are choosing to ignore a large portion of the United Methodist Church. When I read the discipline, I read that each Bishop is to minister to all the members of the church. There is a section about LGBT community and not discriminating against them. Also I feel that you are wasting so much time and money on the issue of same sex marriage and gay pastors when many of the congregations and people are fine with it. If we are truly following the scriptures then how about “Never call anything that I have… Read more »
Michael T. Curd, D. Min.
Michael T. Curd, D. Min.

I thank God that the Council of Bishops believes the enforcement of law (written by humans) trumps grace, mercy and love. Sure glad Jesus was just kidding. BTW, if I don’t shop at Hobby Lobby, buy See’s candy or eat at Chick fil A, why am I giving a part of my tithe to apportionments?

eric pone

His statement is only as solid as the Annual Conference supporting him. Its easy to make such a statement in a nice safe Red Conference with mainly like minded folks. I’d like to see his confidence level in a Blue conference like Minnesota or any Western Conference. I think his statement would have taken a different tact.

Wes Andrews

I’m not a fan of any Bishop. I don’t know this Bishop’s motives. Perhaps he really does trust Scripture. Either way the ones you should question are those who made a vow and refuse to keep it, and refuse to honor the voice of General Conference…. and yes, that would be the progressive bishops…

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