To the Council of Bishops

In light of the election of a married lesbian as a bishop of the United Methodist Church, faithful United Methodists can endorse the following statement by visiting Methodist Crossroads.

Good News issues the following statement in light of the election of a married, lesbian as a bishop of the United Methodist Church. Shortly, faithful United Methodists will have a chance to endorse the statement. 

A Statement to the Council of Bishops from Faithful United Methodists

With the election of the Rev. Karen Oliveto as a bishop of The United Methodist Church, a pastor who is married to another woman and therefore unqualified to assume the office, it is clear to most people that the church has reached a crisis point.

pen-signing-documentTherefore, we call upon the Council of Bishops to do one of the following: [1] To do all within its power to rectify this breach of our covenant by issuing a strong statement opposing Oliveto’s election, and petitioning the Judicial Council to rule the election null and void. Or [2], expedite the appointment of the members to its “Special Commission,” and to revise the commission’s mandate as follows: the sole purpose of the special commission is to devise an equitable and structured plan of separation of The United Methodist Church, and to present such a plan to a called General Conference to be held no later than October 31, 2018.

For 44 years our denomination has debated its sexual ethics at every level of the church. Valiant efforts have been made to bridge the divide and find ways to maintain unity. Unfortunately, all have failed, and we must confess that in recent years the chasm has only widened.

Shortly after the 2012 General Conference progressives decided to forsake our process of corporate discernment outlined in our Book of Discipline. Instead, they embarked upon an escalating and costly strategy of ecclesial disobedience. Since then we have witnessed the following:

  • Many pastors and at least one bishop have, against the express will of General Conference and our Discipline, presided at same-sex weddings.
  • Over one hundred clergy have openly acknowledged they are in same-sex partnered relationships, and still others have themselves married same-sex partners in the sanctuaries of local UM churches.
  • In many of these cases our bishops have either been unwilling or unable to hold these clergy accountable for these acts of ecclesial disobedience.
  • And in several instances, bishops have mocked our polity by administering disingenuous and even frivolous penalties for serious transgressions of our covenant.

This strategy of ecclesial disobedience has now reached new heights with the election of Oliveto as a bishop of the whole church. She has openly acknowledged that she has presided at over 50 same-sex weddings. And she clearly has no intention of holding her clergy colleagues accountable to their vows regarding our church’s sexual ethics. Her election to the episcopacy comes after:

  • Four boards of ministry, five annual conferences, and two jurisdictions have voted to defy the will of General Conference and reject the rules of our Discipline.
  • And the news that one of our bishops knowingly ordained an openly gay person as an elder and commissioned others for service in our church.

It is now obvious that progressives have no intention of waiting for the bishops’ special commission to fulfill its mandate to revisit our church’s sexual ethics and return with recommendations to preserve church unity. Such a task now seems naïve and out of touch with the reality of our situation. The recent actions of progressives speak as loudly as their words; they no longer want to walk together, they want to walk their own way, regardless of what the rest of our global church says.

Their acts of ecclesial disobedience have:

  • Seriously undermined the ministries of thousands of clergy colleagues and the work of thousands of local churches.
  • Pastors and lay leaders have spent precious time and talent trying to carefully explain to new and old members why our church’s leaders have failed to uphold the Discipline and maintain the good order of the church.
  • Many pastors and local churches have witnessed the departure of faithful members and clergy colleagues dismayed by a church that says one thing about the importance of our biblically grounded sexual ethics, but then allows others to routinely flout them.
  • And in recent years, annual conferences have watched healthy, vibrant local churches leave the denomination because they can no longer be yoked to a church that refuses to live by its own standards.

Our church is in crisis, and it is so at a time when it can least afford it. In the U.S. the long, steady decline in membership and worship attendance is now accelerating at alarming levels. Consequently, local churches, annual conferences, and the general church have been forced to slash budgets and pare back ministries. Before the church is harmed any further, it is imperative for our bishops to do all in their power to either rectify this very serious breach of our covenant or empower the special commission to devise a structured and equitable plan of separation for the consideration of a special called General Conference.

It is time to end the deadlock and to liberate one another with genuine affection. It is time to find a new way forward that honors our consciences and allows people of good faith to live into new ways of being the church.

We call upon all faithful United Methodists to be in prayer for our leaders, and for those who will be appointed as commission members.

Comments

  1. Kerry Baker says

    Follow the Bible, period.

    • UMC Clergy says

      Follow Jesus, period!

      • Rudolph Wolfhart says

        How do we know anything about Jesus, other than his historical existence, in order to believe that he is worthy of our following? Only from the Bible, the Old Testament of which he completely endorsed, fulfilled and submitted to unto death as its prophesied Messiah, and the New Testament of which he provided through his own life, death, resurrection and ascension and his apostles’ teachings.

  2. Bob Brooke says

    I don’t see how waiting until 2018 for the special commission to devise a plan will be helpful, though I know its on such a large scale. I believe the need is more pressing and should have much a shorter term resolution. There’s always a sense of urgency in doing God’s will. The time to act in now.

  3. Licensed Local Pastor says

    While I really do appreciate Good News putting out this letter, I’m afraid the Bishop’s by their refusal to address the schismatic acts addressed in the letter sent to them have already decided in favor of turning a blind eye to the apostasy and deliberate disobedience by a few towards not only the Book of Discipline and scripture but also towards the Bishop’s themselves. The Bishops who are guilty of allowing this disobedience to go this far stand under the judgements of the shepherds in Jeremiah.

    • Lisa Pierce says

      I think the Council of Bishops who are allowing this apostasy and (by doing nothing) participating in it should be asked to resign their positions. They are by default not fit to lead our Council.

    • Jana Scharnberg says

      Have the bishops received the letter from the judicial council?

  4. Les Gardner says

    The way the world seems to be headed we Christians need to follow the teachings in the Bible more stringently on a daily basis. The bishop should not allow this abomination to represent Christianity in such a leadership position. We need to be praying to save this world from its self.

  5. Loretta Symm says

    God’s Holy Word is what has been and should be guidance for our church and leadership.

  6. Lester Hemphill says

    Let the decision of Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto be guided by prayer.

  7. Marsha Jenkins says

    I was born and reared in the Methodist Church. I felt certain about its doctrines and liturgy. My hesitation began when we became The United Methodist Church. I was appalled by the church’s position on abortion which I believe has been only recently reversed. With this new appointment I must carefully consider my affiliation. Please consider this petition.

  8. I have no problem with this appointment. I will support the appointment of this Bishop.

    • Good, then you’ll be glad to also support the ordination of a Northern Illinois candidate who is a pedosexual!

      • Drew

        Where did this information come from. I am researching issues so as this as I have suspected issues of this matter would be presented. I have specific responsibilities related to such matters. This the first I have heard of this one. It us regretful to say the least.
        Rev. Tom Herring

      • What is a pedosexual? I have heard of a pedophile, but not a pedosexual. What is the source of your information that this person was ordained. Look, the issues before us a extremely serious. We cannot allow ourselves to sling around unsubstantiated information in order to inflame emotions. I would be 100% against a pedophile’s being ordained. But if this is just a rumor, then it needs to be quashed immediately. Every time I post something on these kinds of websites, I receive message that my post awaits moderation. Did whoever moderated your (Drew’s) comment check out this information. As I said, our situation in this denomination is of the utmost seriousness and we must discipline ourselves to maintain integrity of information.

  9. Lay Delegate to Annual Conference says

    If we intend to maintain the integrity of the United Methodist Church, then we MUST preach, believe, live and study the Word of God!! It is not about gay and lesbian people…it is about souls being saved and disciples being made for the Kingdom of God!! Let’s keep the main thing the main thing!!!! Let’s get our focus right.

  10. Barry Weeks says

    It is way past time to do what is necessary. There is no plan that will appease the LBGQT factions, they have proven that with the election of Rev. Oliveto. A reasonable plan was put into place at General Conference and they chose once again to ignore the convictions of orthodox Methodists and defy a democratic, orderly process agreed upon by our Conference. Even Jesus had to say, ” no more” and cleanse the Temple.We have been patient, prayerful, and discerning for forty years and the left gets more strident and abusive.The time for action is NOW! We must shake the dust off of our feet and move on unencumbered to preach the Truth in love to those who will listen.

  11. Miriam Smith says

    I’ve been following this story and just cannot understand why disciplinary action isn’t taken immediately since this is absolutely against UMC rules and Book of Discipline. Why all the meetings, committees and councils? And especially why set a date 2 yrs away to have this resolved? So many members and churches will have left the UMC by then. Hundreds of churches are really struggling with paying their conference apportionment, and this is where some of that money is going? This problem has been going on for over 20 yrs with tons of money spent….what are the bishops waiting for? Why doesn’t anyone invalidate or defrock this bishop and all other practicing gay clergy? Time to cut them loose since they flagrantly will not abide by the rules of the UMC. They don’t care because no one is doing anything about it and they get lots of attention to their cause. We are very disappointed in the UMC administration

    • Bill Domby says

      The way to get the COB’s attention is to just withhold our tithes. This issue will not go away and the longer they wait , the harder it will be. The Council of Bishops should look in the mirror to find the REAL problem. They are doing a HUGE disservice to the Church and should be called out on it. Just my humble opinion.

  12. I am deeply troubled by the current actions and movement toward a progressive stance within the United Methodist Church.

    “The LGBT community is demanding that we the Church love them enough to give them what they so desperately want, and that would certainly be the path of least cultural resistance. If we accept their argument we can simply remove the controversy from our midst, apologize to the world, and move on. But we cannot do that without counting the cost, and that cost includes the loss of all confidence in the Bible, in the Church’s ability to understand and obey the Scriptures, and in the Gospel as good news to all sinners.

    Biblical Christianity cannot endorse same-sex marriage nor accept the claim that a believer can be obedient to Christ and remain or persist in same-sex behaviors. The church is the assembly of the redeemed, saved from our sins and learning obedience in the School of Christ. Every single one of us is a sexual sinner in need of redemption, but we are called to holiness, to obedience, and to honoring marriage as one of God’s most precious gifts and as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.” Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

  13. William Collier says

    God’s word should be followed by All Christians all the time! These appointments may be viewed as an abomination before God, and as such, one of the options expressed in the letter should be implemented!

  14. Jodie Schrier says

    Same sex marriage is against God’s law. Placing someone in a christian leadership role who is knowingly disregarding that law sends a very powerful and negative message to many who are watching.

  15. Here is my response: http://goo.gl/QBhkAC

  16. If electing a gay bishop harms local church discipleship, that says something about the quality of the local church discipleship. http://goo.gl/QBhkAC

    • So if in the past when General Conference voted no Bishops could own slaves …and yet the Bishop said I’m going to do it anyway …would you have said ‘no big deal’ ….doesn’t matter what they do doesn’the fee to me’?

  17. Randy Gibson says

    The Church of Jesus Christ does not exist to worship, ordain nor proclaim human proclivities. It is instituted as the “Bride of Christ” to proclaim His light and truth to a world in darkness.

    In our society today an overwhelming majority are blind to the darkness that is closing in upon us. Those in darkness insist that we cast away the Light and dwell in darkness with them.

    I can answer only for myself… I cannot exist apart from the Light of
    the World who is Christ Jesus.

    Though I dearly love those souls in darkness and sin and pray for
    their salvation, they have conditioned any relationship with
    themselves upon our silence concerning their darkness and sin.

    They feel free to revel in their sin and rub our noses in it. We are individually and corporately shamed when we proclaim the Gospel message in the face of their sin.

    They proclaim a “new revelation” that God didn’t mean what millennia of believers understood him to say. They claim a license to sin they assert is endorsed by their god.

    Our Creator God is the author of our freedom to choose; even to choose that which He has said would separate us from Him.

    My brothers and sisters may insist it is their right to dwell in sin and darkness if they so choose. So be it. I readily concede that freedom.

    But I will not relinquish my own God given freedom to choose to follow God’s Light in Christ, as I am called, and reject dwelling in darkness and sin.

    Further, pastors are not called by the members they serve in order to endorse their carnal desires. Rather, they are called by God to uphold and proclaim His Holy Word.

    We must confront sin even and especially when society says it is no longer sin. Either we serve God or society. I choose God.

  18. Rev. C. W. Reneker, Jr. says

    I wonder why we even have a Discipline if persons are allowed to defy it at will and face nothing in the way of punishment. How do persons such as this new bishop even have a church? How is she and other openly homosexual person qualify to be elected to go to Jurisdictional Conference? How was she even allowed to be presented for election to bishop? To allow this is an abomination. This kind of blatant disregard for Scripture must stop now!!

    • Bill Domby says

      I think we should withhold our apportionments and place them in an escrow account until the COB acts on this situation IMMEDIATELY for the sake of the UMC.

  19. Rev. Margaret Stratton says

    Read what Jesus says to the Church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29. We are responsible to call out false teachings. Jesus will hold these things against us. Even as Christians and we love all people we must call sin sin. That is real love. That way they may repent and truly find Christ. Being silent is like we are in favor of their actions. If a person declares himself a Christian yet goes out on his wife are we not to go to that brother to show him his error so he can repent and return to holy living? Then we have won the brother and saved him from destruction. That is love that we hold one another accountable to God’s Holy Word.

  20. I think the responses so far to this article say volumes about the issue. Why do our church leaders allow a small minority of renegade ‘Christians’ to dictate violations of our church polity? The vast majority of United Methodists still hold dear our Wesleyan heritage, including the well-known quadrilateral – Scripture; Experience; Reason; Tradition. What a vastly different church we would be if the focus of our conferences was how to win more souls for Christ.

  21. The goal of the church is to demote sin, not promote it. There are 9 NT references that condemn homosexual sin. I will not pay an organization that promotes sin. My offerings will go elsewhere.

  22. The Methodist church lost long ago when instead of admitting into membership truly born of God members, it let those that declared themselves “Christian” join. It simply ignored most of the Bible with respect to winning souls at all, and so the membership shrunk. To fix it, they liberalized membership requirements, which became the “slippery slope”. They simply let the devil in the door.

    Sadly, it is too late now. Better to leave and start a new organization based on sound doctrine, fervent evangelism, clearly directed discipleship, and following Jesus in a direct personal relationship with Jesus as absolute Lord of each member’s life. Without that, there is no life in the church.

    Prayer might reverse this, but I would not hold my breath.

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