SEJ Bishops issues letter on church division

Bishop William McAlilly (middle) with the other bishops elected at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

SEJ bishops elected in 2012

The Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops have issued a pastoral letter regarding the current divisions in the church and the recent actions by some annual conferences and boards of ordained ministry adopting “noncomformity” resolutions regarding the current church teaching on same-sex marriage and the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church.

“We, the Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops, grieve over the deep divisions in our beloved United Methodist Church,” the bishops wrote. “We recognize the pain felt both by those advocating for and those opposing change. We also view the acts of nonconformity as a violation of our covenant and as divisive and disruptive.”

The Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops is comprised of the active bishops serving in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. The Southeastern Jurisdiction began meeting today to elect five new bishops to the College.

Here is the full text of the Bishop’s letter:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We celebrate the way God is working through you and the churches you represent to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Your witness is making a difference in the lives of individuals and communities around the world.

We write this pastoral letter with hope in Jesus Christ. Yet our hearts are heavy as we recognize that as a result of our denominational conflicts we stand at a fragile place. Our Christian witness is defined, not by an absence of conflict, but by how we act in our disagreements.

Many in our church are working to change our Book of Discipline’s current position on human sexuality, believing that it is exclusive, unjust and based on a misinterpretation of Scripture. These actions are being done through processes our polity has in place for making such changes.

Many others in our denomination are working to maintain our Book of Discipline’s current position on human sexuality, believing that it is grace-filled, orthodox and biblically-based. These actions are also being done within the context of our church’s polity.

Still others in our denomination, including some Boards of Ordained Ministry and Annual Conferences, are acting in nonconformity to our church’s legislation about marriage and ordination standards. These actions are not within in the bounds of our church’s polity.

We, the Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops, grieve over the deep divisions in our beloved United Methodist Church. We recognize the pain felt both by those advocating for and those opposing change. We also view the acts of nonconformity as a violation of our covenant and as divisive and disruptive.

As a College of Bishops, we are fully committed to keeping the promises we made at our ordinations and consecrations, including:

  • shepherding all persons committed to our care;
  • leading our areas in mission, witness and service;
  • ordering the church, including administering processes for handling complaints about violations of our Book of Discipline that occur within our episcopal areas;
  • and seeking unity in Christ, including the work the General Conference requested the Council of Bishops do in relation to the Commission on Human Sexuality.

We invite you to join us in prayer as we strive to faithfully and compassionately fulfill our covenant with God, the church and one another. We also encourage you to stay the course in your covenant relationship with God, The United Methodist Church and each other.

In Christ,
The Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com

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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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Lorrainelarnold@gmail.comJohn WilliamsJanetMikeLinda Johns Recent comment authors
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Kevin
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Kevin

Since this is written in bishop speak I need a translation. Sounds like they are asking the non-conforming conferences to abide by the rules, pleading for time for the Bishop’s Council to come up with a plan and begging people not to leave just yet no matter how disappointed they might be. Is that about right?
Our Bishops better step up the pace before The UMC comes apart before they get a chance to propose their solution.

Janet
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Janet

With all due respect, a split has already happened in the United Methodist Church as a result of same gender marriage. Clergy publically opposing the Rules of Discipline and performing same-gender marriage is one example of the split and the election of a gay bishop is a defiant act of disrespect for the Rules of Discipline, the United Methodist Church, and the Bible. As a result, a stumbling block has been placed in the way of church members and it is yet to be determined how many will stay and condone gay marriage and the numbers who will leave the… Read more »

Lorrainelarnold@gmail.com
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Lorrainelarnold@gmail.com

How do I get a letter of concern to this new “Commission on Human Sexuality? I am deeply troubled by the lack of accurate knowledge of our ordained ministers about the flawed “scientific basis” for changing our stance on biblical human sexuality.

John Williams
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I don’t think people who don’t believe exactly like I do on every single position are necessarily against God. Is homosexuality a sin? I don’t believe so because I have enough evidence to believe that people are born to be what they are, and I don’t believe God makes mistakes. But I can’t condemn others for looking at Scripture and thinking otherwise, or believing what I did 20 years ago, and I don’t blame them for not wanting the church to hold ceremonies that officially anoint behaviors they believe to be a sin. How can I judge them? Regardless of… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

Because most of the members in their jurisdiction are anti-gay these bishops came up with a “please obey the rules” statement.

this statement is pandering and not Christ-like – not really in the wesley tradition either.

Don’t want to upset our homophobe congregants!

Linda Johns
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Linda Johns

This is a sad time for the UMC. I regret that the Bishops will not abide by Jesus’s admonition to love thy. neighbor. This is not love for the marginalized. I hope that everyone comes to understand that we cannot reject the LGBTQ population.

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