Sexuality seems to be the one topic that never goes away for the United Methodist Church.
Earlier this year, the church’s top court upheld much of the Traditional Plan, strengthening the denomination’s language barring its LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination. But questions about that plan — and a number of regional annual conferences’ dissent to it — still dominated the Judicial Council meeting this past week in suburban Evanston, Ill., Religion News Service reported.
“The matters before us are neither academic nor abstract,” Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, president of the denomination’s Council of Bishops, said during a public hearing, according to United Methodist News Service reports.“ They are where we and the church live, This impacts persons who are called to ministry and persons who are served by them.”
The Council of Bishops had asked the Judicial Council to decide the “constitutionality, meaning, application and effect” of several petitions adopted as part of the Traditional Plan by a special session of the General Conference, the denomination’s decision-making body, held in February in St. Louis.
The denomination’s rulebook, the Book of Discipline, states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained as ministers, appointed to serve or be married in the church.
The Traditional Plan further defines a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” as a person who is “living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.
The plan also bars bishops from consecrating, ordaining or commissioning “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” even if they have been elected or approved by the appropriate church body. It prohibits those church bodies from approving or recommending them as candidates, as well.
– Alan Goforth | Metro Voice