Judicial Council Decisions Search
Decision No. 1052
October 26 2006
In Re: Request for a Declaratory Decision by the Kansas East Annual Conference on the Meaning, Application and Effect of Article IV of the Constitution and ¶¶ 124 and 214 of the 2004 Book of Discipline to the Action of the Annual Conference in Adopting a Petition Prohibiting the Denial of Membership Solely Based on a Person Being a Self-Avowed, Practicing Homosexual.
Digest of Case
Annual conferences are free to express their ideals and opinions so long as they do not attempt to negate, ignore, or contradict the Discipline.
Statement of Facts
The 2006 regular session of the Kansas East Annual Conference adopted the following resolution:
WHEREAS, a UM pastor in Virginia has denied membership in his local church to an individual solely on the grounds that he is a self-avowed, practicing homosexual. WHEREAS, the Judicial Council of the UMC has upheld the pastor’s right to do so. (Judicial Council Decision No. 1032) THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 2006 KS [sic] East Annual Conference clearly state that: “No pastor in the KS East Conference shall deny membership into a KS East UMC solely based on the candidate for membership being a self-avowed, practicing homosexual.Upon adoption of the resolution, the Conference voted to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council as to whether the resolution “is in compliance with Article IV [sic] of the Constitution, ¶ 124 and ¶ 214 of the 2004 Discipline. Oral hearings were held in Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 26, 2006. Reverend Mark R. Holland and Reverend Paul K. Stephens presented oral argument.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of [T]he United Methodist Church believes that Judicial Council Decision 1032 is inconsistent with Christian teachings, and contrary to [T]he United Methodist Church Constitution; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that from this day forward, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference will model inclusive behavior by expecting and encouraging its congregations and clergy to abide by the principle: Membership in any local church in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference shall not be denied on the basis of race, color, national origin, economic condition, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, ability or disability, or any other status.The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference resolution uses the language “expecting and encouraging its … clergy…” to abide by their stated principle; the resolution does not mandate the desired conduct of their clergy. In contrast, the Kansas East Annual Conference’s resolution uses proscriptive language, “No pastor … shall….,” which addresses a distinctively connectional matter which is reserved to the General Conference. ¶ 16.1 of the Discipline. The Kansas East Annual Conference resolution does more than express ideals and opinions of the Conference. An annual conference may express its ideals and opinions as long as the resolution is interpreted as an expression of opinion rather than a law or binding policy and the resolution is not inconsistent with the Discipline and Judicial Council Decisions.