Methodists Nominate 3 Openly Gay Candidates for Bishop

More than 160 demonstrators greeted delegates with a silent protest for LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church as they arrived on May 18, 2016 at the Oregon Convention Center for the United Methodist General Conference. Some held crosses draped in stoles from the Shower of Stoles project, each representing the life an LGBT person in ministry. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

More than 160 demonstrators greeted delegates with a silent protest for LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church as they arrived on May 18, 2016 at the Oregon Convention Center for the United Methodist General Conference. Some held crosses draped in stoles from the Shower of Stoles project, each representing the life an LGBT person in ministry. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

By Emily McFarlan Miller

At its quadrennial meeting last month, the United Methodist Church decided not to take up contentious LGBT issues. But that’s not stopping its regional conferences from making decisions on their own.

Two U.S. jurisdictions will consider three openly gay candidates for bishop next month.

The Rev. Karen Oliveto, the Rev. Frank Wulf and the Rev. David Meredith have been nominated for election at the meetings of the denomination’s Western and North Central jurisdictions July 13-16, according to the Reconciling Ministries Network.

It’s not the first time an openly gay candidate has been nominated — Wulf has been nominated before, according to Reconciling Ministries Executive Director Matt Berryman — but there’s “no question” there is momentum this time after last month’s United Methodist Church General Conference in Portland, Ore.

“I feel like there’s a kind of a groundswell of movement,” Berryman said.

“Many, many annual conferences are refusing to comply with the Book of Discipline, openly ordaining LGBT people, passing resolutions that affirm the image of God in transgender people and really building on the pivot that was implemented at General Conference.”
According to the denomination’s Book of Discipline, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

In the U.S., United Methodist bishops are elected by the denomination’s five jurisdictional conferences. Like its worldwide General Conference, those jurisdictional conferences meet every four years.

Any elder in “full connection” is eligible, according to the denomination’s website. Candidates can nominate themselves, and many are nominated or endorsed by their annual conferences or other groups ahead of the jurisdictional conference, though they also can be nominated from the floor, according to the Rev. Paul White, secretary of the North Central Jurisdiction.
Meredith is one of 17 nominees for bishop in North Central, which will elect four bishops at its upcoming conference. Six people have been nominated in Western, which will elect one, according to M. Barclay, director of communications for Reconciling Ministries. Altogether, 54 candidates are vying for 15 spots, Barclay said.

The election follows the decision by the 2016 General Conference to pass on all proposals related to human sexuality. Instead, the denomination will create a commission to discuss the conflict over sexuality that could lead to a special session of the conference in 2018 or 2019.

The church has been in no rush to put together that commission, according to reports from the United Methodist News Service.

And the 56 regional U.S. conferences, which make up the five jurisdictions, have been left to interpret what to do in the meantime. Those conferences meet yearly.

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Clergy members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, meeting June 1, 2016, in an executive session, did not approve Tara “T.C.” Morrow for commissioning as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. Photo by Steven D. Martin

In early June, clergy in the Baltimore-Washington Conference voted against Tara “T.C.” Morrow, a lesbian who had been recommended for the position of deacon.

And the South Georgia Conference passed a motion asking its bishop to “not receive … clergy that have publicly stated their intent to disregard the current language of the ‘Book of Discipline’” regarding sexuality.

But other conferences have taken steps toward inclusion, and Berryman said, “It would be hard to imagine how anybody could avoid drawing the conclusion that the ball is rolling quite rapidly now.”

The New York Annual Conference already has ordained or commissioned four people who came out as LGBT in an open letter published in the days leading up to the General Conference.

A press conference hosted by the Reconciling Ministries Network announcing more than 1,500 Methodist clergy have signed an open letter supporting their LGBTQ colleagues at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Ore., during the United Methodist Church General Conference on May 16, 2016. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

A press conference hosted by the Reconciling Ministries Network announcing more than 1,500 Methodist clergy have signed an open letter supporting their LGBTQ colleagues at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Ore., during the United Methodist Church General Conference on May 16, 2016. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

At its yearly meeting, the New England Conference overwhelmingly approved a resolution saying it “will not conform or comply” with the sexuality provisions of the Book of Discipline.

Both the Desert Southwest Conference and California-Pacific Conference voted not to participate in judicial procedures related to sexuality. California-Pacific also voted not to consider sexual orientation and gender in determining candidates for ordination.

And the clergy session of the Oregon-Idaho Conference issued a statement supporting “the gifts and graces” of LGBT people in ordained ministry.

 

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Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

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RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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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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Ron NewberryLicensed Local PastorRichard F Hickseric poneWes Andrews Recent comment authors
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Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

The progressives have a “give no quarter/take no prisoners” approach. They will not compromise on their rejection of Scripture for any reason. They require FULL INCLUSION which equals sexual chaos, hence the progressive alphabet LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Intersex). Essentially, the alphabet means no rules, no standards, no accountability. Which also translates to no rules in regard to heterosexual sexuality. No one should have any sexual standards “imposed” on them from Scripture or anything or anyone else. To put standards on another person would be bigotry…

Wes Andrews

Licensed Local Pastor
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Licensed Local Pastor

Before the Council of Bishops can even get a committee together to provide leadership on the question of Human Sexuality, the “progressive” element of the denomination forces a split in the denomination by these actions.

Kevin
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Kevin

Wait and see what they are seeking? You know perfectly well what the left is seeking. Full inclusion is what they call it. The left will not be separating but instead will be remaking The UMC. If they elect a gay bishop there will be nothing anyone can do about it. You live with that fact or leave.

Eric Limbo
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Eric Limbo

Actually, if an openly gay Bishop is elected, then any complaints or charges against that Bishop will be dealt with through the Council of Bishops – not the local annual conference of even jurisdiction. So, if an openly gay Elder is elected to the position of Bishop, then it becomes an issue for them.

Sherrie Lynn Robertson
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Sherrie Lynn Robertson

They are not going to do anything.

Kevin
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Kevin

I would like to see how that process works. Where in the BoD is that described?

Richard F Hicks
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Richard F Hicks

Since Northaven UMC Dallas just began practicing congregational government just like the Baptists and the North Texas Annual Conference has done nothing about it, any jurisdictional conference isn’t required to follow the rules either. We live in a Mardi Gras free for all. It’s Carneval in Rio time get out your g-strings. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

Eric Limbo
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Eric Limbo

I am shocked by the overwhelmingly obvious bias of this article. When reporting on an issue as important to the future of the UMC and as volatile as human sexuality is proving to be, it is essential to keep an objective view. The fact that the writer used an inaccurate quote without correction is ridiculous: The quote: “Many, many annual conferences are refusing to comply with the Book of Discipline, openly ordaining LGBT people, passing resolutions that affirm the image of God in transgender people and really building on the pivot that was implemented at General Conference.” Five or possibly… Read more »

Kevin
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Kevin

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

The UMR is a left leaning news site. What did you expect? What is shocking is that they allow knuckle dragging right wing extremists like me to occasionally post a comment.

Sherrie Lynn Robertson
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Sherrie Lynn Robertson

“Many” doesn’t mean a majority, just a lot. Since nothing like this happened before it’s an accurate claim. The bias is there, but it is a bias in favor of reality.

eric pone
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eric pone

It may well be time to have separate communions under one denomination. One that is more liberal and one that is more conservative. This would leave moderates the choice as to which team they would gravitate too. We could continue to have GC to create global focus but neither side would have to deal with the other sides theology. I was so angry after being setup to fail by the left wing in the MN annual conference that I just decided to make use of my license as a wedding officiant and lay speaker. By staying outside of the communion… Read more »

Ron Newberry
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The moderates would really have no choice.

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