Response to the Special Session of the General Coference
Dear Foothills Family,
The Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church concluded its work yesterday. After much contentious debate, the Traditional Plan was approved by a vote of 438 to 384 (53% to 47%). This plan retains the current language in our Book of Discipline that declares that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, prohibits clergy from conducting same-sex weddings, and prohibits the ordination of homosexual persons from being ordained as clergy. This plan also puts in place new enforcement actions against any clergy who disobey these rules.
The next steps are unclear at this point. First, many of the provisions of the Traditional Plan violate the constitution of The United Methodist Church. These provisions have now been referred to the denomination's Judicial Council for review and a declaratory decision. Any provisions found to be unconstitutional will not be included in the Book of Discipline. Second, it is not clear how our regional Jurisdictions, Annual Conferences and individual churches that disagree with the plan will respond. One path is to remain in the United Methodist Church and ignore the prohibitions in the practice of ministry. Another path is to exit The United Methodist Church and form a new structure that does not include these rules. There may be other ways to respond, so we await further clarification from our Bishop and leadership.
We must acknowledge that these actions of the General Conference have deeply hurt our LGBTQIA members of the church and those who support them. We personally disagree with the Traditional Plan and the exclusion of the LGBTQIA community from full equality in our denomination. As your pastors, we will continue to follow the Welcoming Statement of Foothills which includes this sentence: "We welcome people regardless of age, race, gender identity, marital status, physical condition, sexual orientation, ethnic background or economic situations." We will continue to be an open and affirming congregation that includes all without exception, for God's love is offered to all without exception.
This Sunday, March 3rd at 11:45 am in the Youth Center, we will provide a summary of the actions taken by the Special Conference and its potential impact on our congregation. Also, on Sunday, Mach 3rd, Bishop Grant Hagiya will lead our California-Pacific Conference in a special worship service at 6:00PM Pacific Standard Time, at Pasadena First UMC as well as via livestream at this website: www.calpacumc.org.
This is a difficult time in the history of The United Methodist Church. The road ahead will be challenging as we try to determine how we put our faith into action. However, there is also hope that God is doing a new thing in the midst of these difficulties. As the future unfolds, let us work together to ensure that our congregation is fully inclusive and open to all of God's children.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Greg Batson
Rev. Lori Doyle