Church Law Forbids Ignoring Church LawóRuling Requested In Active Homosexual Appointments
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2002 2:16 PM
Subject: POINT OF LAW
June 14, 2002 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
TO: Bishop Elias Galvan
RE: Request of a Ruling on Point of Law
Point of Law Request:
Ordained elder Mark E. Williams openly declared at The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference in Tacoma, June of 2001, that he is "proudly as much a practicing gay man as...a practicing United Methodist." It is a matter of record that in May, 2002, when asked a question to ascertain specific fact by the Committee on Investigation regarding his prior self-avowal of being a "practicing gay man," he refused to indicate if he was or was not a self-avowed practicing homosexual. The purpose of the Committee on Investigation's question was to determine if there was sufficient reason to conduct a church trial to ascertain Mark E. Williams' eligibility to remain as an elder in good standing in The United Methodist Church pursuant to Paragraph 359.
One of the qualifications for ordination (Para. #304.1.i) is to be "accountable to The United Methodist Church, accept its Doctrinal Standards and Discipline and authority, accept the supervision of those appointed to this ministry, and be prepared to live in covenant of its ordained ministries." (See also Para. 311 and Para. 324.1) In light of this, the Bishop is asked for a ruling of law as to whether or not Mark E. Williams can refuse to answer questions that are intended to review his eligibility for certification as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, since his prior statements brought forth a complaint that mandated a review of his ministerial office of trust. His refusal to answer specific questions is a denial and/or rejection of supervision and the covenant trust of an ordained minister.
Judicial Council Decision #920 states: "As part of the review which must occur under such circumstances, the person making such a statement must be asked whether she is engaged in genital sexual acts with a person of the same gender."
Para. #324 further obligates elders to "subject themselves to the process of clergy discipline..." This requirement includes a commitment to fulfilling the mandates of Para. #2701 requiring fair process. Primary in this covenant relationship is the desire to seek justice, reconciliation and healing within the Church. With respect to Para. 304.3, the covenant relationship requires Annual Conference compliance with the mandates of General Conference. This compliance not only applies to ordination, but also for good standing and the appointment of clergy.
Judicial Council Decision #886 states "...the Discipline is the law of the Church which regulates every phase of the life and work of the Church. As such, Annual Conferences may not legally negate, ignore, or violate provisions of the Discipline with which they disagree, even when the disagreements are based upon conscientious objections to those provisions."
[Read during plenary session by Connie Gent, Lay Member of Conference from Mt. Vernon, WA: Avon UMC, in company of other delegates. Written copies presented to Bishop Galvan and Conference Secretary by Amy Baumgardner, Lay Member of Conference from Westpark UMC, Yakima, WA.]
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