Good News Calls Upon Judicial Council to Reconsider Scheduling Decision

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 11.12.20 AMIn light of the urgent concerns related to the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) petition for a declaratory decision regarding the election of a self-avowed practicing homosexual as bishop, Good News calls upon the Judicial Council to reconsider its decision to postpone that agenda item to the April meeting of the Council. We are in full agreement with the Council of Bishops’ earlier call for expediting this matter. The election of the Rev. Karen Oliveto as a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction makes the questions raised in the SCJ petition highly relevant and acutely consequential in the life of our church at this moment.

Pastors and churches are dealing with the fallout of Rev. Oliveto’s election on a daily basis. We regularly receive phone calls and emails at Good News telling us of faithful United Methodists leaving their congregations or redirecting their tithes and offerings, local churches reducing or eliminating the payment of apportionments, and in extreme cases, local churches preparing to leave the denomination. The effect of the Western Jurisdiction’s defiance of the Book of Discipline will only grow over time, as more and more people become aware of it. To postpone any decision on this matter for six months will only increase the harm done to the ministries of local congregations, annual conferences, and the global church. We fear that the damage done will be irreparable.

Postponement will also increase uncertainty around the legitimacy of Oliveto’s service as a bishop. The possibility of rendering a decision nullifying her election two months into her term of office is much different than taking that action eight months into her term. The disruptive potential to the annual conferences involved, as well as Rev. Oliveto’s personal life, make the case for an early decision, rather than a postponement.

Good News is sensitive to the concerns raised by the Judicial Council that, “Due to the importance of this petition, all interested parties and amici curiae must be given sufficient time to prayerfully consider the issues in order to prepare their briefs.” In their initial announcement of the fall docket, the Judicial Council asked interested parties to prepare briefs as if the deadline of August 26 would hold for briefs related to the SCJ petition. Many persons have been working on briefs in anticipation of that deadline and were prepared to meet it. The Judicial Council could accommodate the need for additional briefing time by simply modifying its deadline, so that briefs on this matter would be due September 23, which would still give ample time for preparation and for the Council to consider the issues raised in the briefs.

While extending the briefing deadline and considering the SCJ petition at its regular October meeting would be the optimal solution due to travel needs, another option would be for the Council to schedule a special meeting in early December to consider the SCJ petition. The extra costs involved would be outweighed by the benefit of having an earlier resolution to the questions raised, the potential calming of the damaging reactions across the church, and the signal that such a meeting would send indicating that the Council grasps the importance and urgency of addressing the spiraling disobedience within our church.

Good News respectfully asks the Judicial Council to assume its responsibilities in maintaining the order and discipline of the church. We fear that a six-month delay will only exacerbate the frustration and division in the church and make a unifying resolution of these issues even less likely.

Comments

  1. Travis Meredith says

    Once again church leaders endorse the progressive movement by failing to take action. My hope is gone. I think I will be leaving the church I have loved and supported for many years.

    • Sonja LeVan says

      Hold on till after we see what comes out in the Oct. 7, 2016 meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association…I know our Pastor and a lay leader is going…..If nothing comes of that…..I will be leaving also…That is the only hope I see….Ask your pastor to attend this meeting!!!

    • sharon white says

      I feel the same way, this should have been voted on at General Conf. but they were afraid of the hugh outcome of the vote to follow the book of disiplins because the over seas deligates were there. They better be standing up for the word of GOD, the Bible is the same million of years ago and today.

      • Really? You follow every passage in the Bible? I sincerely doubt it. You want to cherry pick which verses you follow.

  2. We’ve had too much hemming and hawing around on this issue. We need a decision sooner rather than later.

  3. David Trawick says

    Enough delays. Get on with it! Time to make a solid decision so we can all decide our futures. I pray they’ll uphold the BOD and clear biblical teaching. Soon.

  4. As Barney Fife would sat we need to nip it in the bud!

  5. Bob Brooke says

    Good News is so diplomatic in its communications. I guess that’s the proper thing to do in a situation like this, but patience is running thin. As soon as I heard of the top UMC judiciary’s delay until the spring, it sounded like our federal government “kicking the can down the road.” The bureaucracy of the UMC has gotten so big that the denomination can’t do important business in a timely manner. Schism is, and has been, already in process. Oliveto’s consecration is a deep, deep wound. The UMC may bleed to death by this spring. And what will be left?

  6. James Capps says

    We keep on kicking the can down the road. Need decisions now. Really wish General Conference had taken care of the business when in session. Sure it was going to be messy but at least we’d know where we stood. The Juducial Council needs to make a determination now, not later. Personally I am tired of losing members and having to explain why we are at a stand still on all this. We have General Conference, but then have to wait on a group that we know the outcome that will then be rejected by the General Conference if the African Church and church of the Philippines is present.

    Let’s get on with now.

  7. It is very unlikely that the Judicial Council will change. However, it seems that the October docket has a couple cases of great significance to the sexuality and marriage conflict. Does anyone have any information on this October session of the “court” and how these cases will be handled, including the parties that will be present and how a decision will be adjudicated? As for the spring session. Briefs? Interested parties? How will this process work? Will it be lawyers representing the Western Jurisdiction going against lawyers representing the South Central Jurisdiction before the “court”? Can the Judicial Council declare any part of the BOD null and void? If the Judicial Council fails to uphold the BOD on technical grounds and allows violations of church law to stand, will that signal an acceptance of de facto proceedings for the church going forward? It seems that the Judicial Council is in a most significant position with relation to this conflict with pending rulings that could significantly impact a number of pending developments, especially the new Bishops’ Commission that is about to be formed.

  8. Roger Wilson says

    I am ashamed of the church I once loved… How can we even consider ourselves a true church of Jesus Christ if we allow the political winds of the world to dictate how we respond to blatant disregard for Scripture and our own Book of Discipline. With the announcement of the delay I am hearing more and more people say that they are fed up with the lack of Biblical leadership and are considering leaving the UMC.

    Shame on you, the bishops of the Judicial Council! Don’t hide behind the mantra, “Let us take time to prayerfully consider!” If you were truly men and women of God you would have no need to take this time… Unless… Could you have another agenda?

  9. Licensed Local Pastor says

    There is no good reason to delay taking up this case for six months. The parties involved do not need six months to prepare their “amici curiae” briefs. This is a complete capitulation to the Oliveto election by the JCS. In delaying addressing this issue the JCS has in fact made a decision by doing nothing.

  10. Don Crowson says

    Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the Council’s decision to put this off. I can tell you people are leaving the church. I am seeing it happen. Let’s put this to rest once and for all.

  11. Bob Walter says

    Which Side
    There is no ecclesiastical side, no reconciling side, no liberal or conservative side where scripture is at issue. There is only a scriptural side and an evil side. I am deeply saddened that in all the arguing, reasoning, holy conferencing, etc., that nobody is quoting scripture. I would gladly go pickup and drive every lesbian, gay, homosexual, queer or whatever they choose to call themselves, to my church and take them out to dinner afterwards, if they would agree to sit down and listen to the scripture with an open mind. Trouble is, they have, perhaps with good intentions, perverted the plain and simple meaning of the scripture, and we, IN AN EQUALLY DESPICABLE AND COWARDLY MANNER, though perhaps equally well intentioned attempt at compromise, have allowed it to happen without consequence to the blasphemers.

    God is going to punish generations of our children and grandchildren for our cowardly refusal to take effective action, because we didn’t want to appear harsh or “judgemental.”

    The best scripture on all of this is Solomon and the baby. His proposed compromise correctly and vividly illustrated what happens when you take a position that places compromise over justice (God’s will).

  12. Dear Rob Renfroe,
    In your Good News Magazine editorial, you stated, “and though Rev. Oliveto’s election has been appealed to the Judicial Council, it is unlikely that the Council will rule her election out of order. Any elder “in good standing” may be elected to the episcopacy. At the time of her election, Olivero was in good standing within her annual conference”. If so, this would be more egregious than the election itself.

    Have we already entered a DE FACTO stage in our denomination with relation to church law (BOD) with this and the other acts of lawlessness? Is this the plan of Reconcilling Ministeries and its network, to gain acceptance of its lawless acts via de facto? If so, is the orthodox coalition ready to respond?

    Thank you.

  13. again…if the GC would have not ‘punted’ into a specially called session….then this election would have not created the current situation

    if schism is to happen…let it

    but no…another commission….another future date to resolve….and hear we are

  14. Mike Peters says

    My Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern IL Conference, in a letter dated April 14, 2015 wrote.
    “I’ve read widely in the area of biblical studies related to the matter of homosexuality and believe that what we talk about today as homosexuality is very different from what is being referred to in the scriptures.”

    She went on to invite me to a “conversation about human sexuality” she was planning to host. She included instructions that I would need to follow if I attended and I would be required to accept her “rules of engagement”

    I’m praying that the UMC will soon overcome this nonsense.

  15. William B. says

    Most Good News writers maintain that they have Scripture “on their side”, but actually demonstrate a fundamentalist hermeneutic which is anachronistic and irrelevant to this century. The “homosexuality” condemned in Scripture is always exploitive behavior by persons in power visited on vulnerable, non-consenting people. Any ethical person would condemn those practices. But that is 180 degrees from the committed, loving relationships addressed in the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court recently. Those who claim “clear biblical teaching” have not done their Biblical homework and are blindly and self-righteously leading our denomination into schism.

    • William B,
      Just who is actually breaking church law and leading our denomination into schism? And, in addition to the practice of homosexuality, which of the other skns does Paul have it wrong for this century?
      sexually immoral
      Idolaters
      adulterers
      thieves
      the greedy
      drunkards
      swindlers
      liars
      perjurers
      etc. etc.

    • First, I would note that those instances in which homosexual acts are named as sin do not describe unequal power relationships. There are some instances of homosexual rape, or its potential (such as at Sodom) with an implication of strong condemnation. There are also instances of cult prostitutes that are condemned. But, when the Bible specifically names categories of sexual sins, it names homosexual relations that are mutual. This is true in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:12, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and I Timothy 1:8-11. It is true that one term in I Corinthians 6:9 could be interpreted as a male prostitute, but it also could be interpreted simply as the passive partner in a homosexual relationship. In the Romans passage especially, the mutual lust of both partners is focused on. Homosexuality in Romans 1 is depicted as a consequence of a refusal to acknowledge the creator God. In Leviticus 18 and 19 it is depicted as a rebellion against holy living. In I Corinthians 6 it is depicted as one aspect of wicked behavior that is far from the Kingdom of God and can come in through deceptive teaching and deceiving spirits. In I Timothy 1 it is listed as one instance of lawlessness that comes from an antinomian spirit. It is by no means the only sin in any of these categories, and we need to come to the issue with humble and repentant hearts. Nevertheless, it is has become an issue that cannot be ignored or explained away in the perilous times in which we live.

    • Jesus said, “Go and sin no more”.

      The notion that we can worm ourselves out of being accountable for our actions leads only to sin and death.

  16. Rev Joe Rand says

    Like so many others, I’m afraid, I have lost all respect for the governing bodies of the UMC. Although this pastor is long retired and joyfully worships in a United Methodist church where the pastor preaches Christ crucified, dead, and resurrected, my heart is greatly troubled by the church of tomorrow. Once the foundation begins to crumble what hope remains for the structure?

  17. What would it take for the faithful, orthodox majority of the UMC to act in response to the rebellious disobedience of the Western Jurisdiction and other ACs? What would the liberal progressive have to do in order for the majority to say that is enough? How much worse does it have to get?

    Delay is a tactic done in order to establish disobedience as the norm. Conversation and prayerful discernment is more of the same delaying that has allowed the UMC to put in such terrible position. As a denomination, we have been in discussion and conversation for decades, the frustration and turmoil is getting worse by the month.

  18. Another parishioner has sent me a message, terminating membership in not only our congregation, but the UMC denomination entirely. My counsel to all of these who are leaving is patience, rather than exit, since our traditionalist position continues to grow, and as we find ourselves at this “tipping point,” those who believe the Word of the Lord is accurately reflected in our Bible will hold sway. However, it is undeniable that patience is wearing thin, and many are exiting our pews (and pulpits?), and that delay will only deepen the acrimony and make the final solution that much more difficult. I pray that our Wesleyan Covenant meeting will demonstrate to those intent on changing God’s Word to suit their own will that satisfaction of earthly desires is exactly what we are warned AGAINST, and instead, it is God’s will we all should seek to fulfil.

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