Judicial Council Decisions Search
Memorandum No. 1084
October 26 2007
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Concerning the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶612.19 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
A written request for a decision of law was made to the bishop during the 2007 session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. The question asked was as follows:
Would the use of funds in this 2008 budget to support The Wesley Club at the University of Washington and the Umeth Campus Ministry at the University of Puget Sound not be prohibited by ¶612.19 of the 2004 Book of Discipline of the (sic) United Methodist Church as each of these campus ministries have chosen to be a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which may be accurately described as a “gay caucus or group” and whose stated purpose cannot be harmonized with the stance of our church?The bishop ruled that although the request was properly made, a factual error in the request rendered it hypothetical and inappropriate to answer in a substantive manner. The bishop went on to rule:
The Request states that “each of these (two) campus ministries have chosen to be a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMC).” This statement is not true, as neither of these ministries has at any time asked for or chosen to be a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). Each of these ministries has, on its own, issued statements of welcome to all people, including gay and lesbian people, congruent with the kind of welcome The United Methodist Church itself extends to all people. But neither has chosen to be a member or part of the group known as “Reconciling Ministries Network.”The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶2609 of the 2004 Book of Discipline. Paragraph 612.19 of the 2004 Discipline requires that United Methodist funds not be given to any gay caucus or group or that such funds not be used to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The conference council on finance and administration is charged with ensuring compliance. The request for a decision of law sought a ruling from the bishop as to whether the conference had violated the provision by funding two campus ministries thought to be part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. Ruling the request hypothetical, the bishop’s rationale was that the request contained a factual error, namely that the ministries were part of RMN. Each ministry had submitted a letter disavowing membership in the RMN. Paragraph 612.19 grants to the annual conference council on finance and administration the authority and responsibility:
To ensure that no annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures. This restriction shall not limit the Church’s ministry in response to the HIV epidemic, nor shall it preclude funding for dialogs or educational events where the Church’s official position is fairly and equally represented.The President of the Council on Finance and Administration along with the Conference Treasurer submitted a letter, although after the decision of law was rendered, stating the matter had been investigated and no violation of ¶ 612.19 was found. It appears that the council on finance and administration has discharged its responsibility under ¶ 612.19. The decision of law of the bishop is affirmed.