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Decision No. 913

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October 25 2001
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference in Regard to a Resolution Adopted by the Annual Conference Affirming a Resolution of the Western Jurisdictional Conference Entitled “We Will Not Be Silent.”

Digest of Case

The ruling by Bishop William W. Dew, Jr. that Resolution 21.20 adopted by the Desert Southwest Annual Conference, which affirms and supports a resolution passed by the Western Jurisdictional Conference, is not in violation of the Discipline, is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

The Desert Southwest Annual Conference, held at Mesa, Arizona on June 6-10, 2001, adopted the following resolution: Resolution 21.20: Affirmation of the Western Jurisdictional Resolution. “We Will Not Be Silent” Whereas, the Western Jurisdictional Conference during its session at Caspar, Wyoming, July 12-15,. 2000, passed the following resolution entitled “We Will Not Be Silent:” "We of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church have heard the call of the prophet Micah “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” We have heard Jesus’ invitation for all to come to the banquet table of God’s abundant grace. "Certain actions of General Conference 2000 have caused tremendous pain for individuals and communities and have resulted in an attempt to suppress our prophetic and pastoral ministries among all people, regardless of sexual orientation. "The votes may have been cast but our voices will not be silent. Our jurisdictional vision calls us to be “a home for all God’s people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation.” Affirming the statement of United Methodist of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, “We acknowledge that there may be differences of opinion among us, but this does not require that we wait on justice.” We cannot accept discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered persons and, therefore, we will work toward their full participation at all levels in the life of the church and society. Valuing the voices of those who disagree, we will continue to be in dialogue as we journey together in creative tension. We will continue to be in ministry with God’s children and celebrate the gifts diversity brings. We will continue to feast at table with all God’s children." WHEREAS, the Desert Southwest Annual Conference intends to support our brothers and sisters across the Western Jurisdiction. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Desert Southwest Annual Conference both affirms and supports the action taken by the Western Jurisdictional Conference at its 2000 session, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference Secretary shall ensure that the text of this resolution be printed in the “Open Line”, and that the Conference Secretary shall mail a copy of this resolution to each congregation in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. The resolution passed by a vote of 191-137. Upon passage of the resolution a clergy member of the conference requested of the presiding bishop a ruling on a question of law, to wit: Is Resolution 21.20, as adopted, in violation of Judicial Council Decision # 911 wherein it is stated that it is unlawful for an annual conference to adopt a resolution which negates, ignores or violates provisions of the Discipline? The bishop ruled: There is no violation of the Book of Discipline in the wording of the resolution, the Resolution stands as approved. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale The resolution at issue affirms and supports a resolution passed by the 2000 session of the Western Jurisdictional Conference which was entitled: “We Will Not Be Silent” A part of the resolution states: Valuing the voices of those who disagree we will continue to be in dialogue as we journey together in creative tension. We will continue to be in ministry with all God’s children and celebrate the gifts diversity brings. There is nothing in the resolution which violates the Discipline or Decision 911. Members of The United Methodist Church are not of one mind on the issue of homosexuality, but we need to continue to be in dialogue with each other on the subject. Further, our Social Principles commit us to be in ministry with all persons. Par. 161.g of the 2000 Discipline states in part: ...Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well and the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self... We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

The ruling by Bishop William W. Dew, Jr. that Resolution 21.20 adopted by the Desert Southwest Annual Conference affirming and supporting a resolution passed by the Western Jurisdictional Conference entitled: We Will Not Be Silent” is not in violation of the Discipline, is affirmed.

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