The official imprimatur, Focus 1

An old friend of our’s recently told us, “If there is Prevenient Grace, Saving Grace, and Sanctifying Grace in the Wesleyan tradition, there must also be General Conference Grace.” We certainly hope that is true.

That is why it is vexing to report that so many of the delegates are perplexed at the choice of DeLyn Celec as the leader of the “time of song, litany and biblical reflection” at the Women’s Briefing/Orientation at General Conference. This official event is sponsored by the Women’s Division and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW).

Celec was recently a participant in an “extraordinary ordination” by the Church Within the Church Movement — a group that ordained her because her ordination process had been discontinued because she is married to another woman. Our Council of Bishops has stated that the group has “no official status” within our connection and that the ordinations are not recognized by any annual conference, board of ordained ministry, or cabinet.

Look, we all know that we come to Tampa with our agendas, prayers, and aspirations for what takes place at General Conference. The Renewal and Reform Coalition certainly does. We understand that just as a coalition exists to support the historic view of marriage and sexuality, a coalition exists to change the United Methodist viewpoint. Fair enough.

Therefore, we fully understand Celec’s role as the worship coordinator for the Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition sponsored by the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Let’s be very clear, female delegates to General Conference are independent minded and do not walk lockstep with a rigid Women’s Division/ COSROW agenda. What we fail to understand is why official groups of the church continue to promote an agenda that is contrary to the church’s beliefs. United Methodism has stated its position on homosexuality. That is what our agencies ought to be promoting. Folks in the pews are tired of agencies abusing their trust by promoting agendas at odds with our beliefs.