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Rebuked Bishop Restores Faithful Pastor, But Sends In Pro-homosexuality "Goon Squad" To Assure Pastor's Right To Deny Membership Is Not Carried Out

Rev. Edward H. Johnson Appointment

November 16, 2005

Message from Bishop Kammerer following the Judicial Council rulings

Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace and Peace be unto you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I wanted to be in touch with you, as lay and clergy leaders in the Virginia Conference in response to the recent Judicial Council rulings that affect us so closely.

As you know, Rev. Ed Johnson was removed from his Involuntary Leave status, and was eligible for immediate appointment. Also, his salary and benefits were to be paid from July 1 until the time of the effective appointment. Immediately upon returning from my meeting with the Council of Bishops, I met with Ed and Pam Johnson. We discussed the rulings, and I listened to his request for consideration by our Cabinet. We had prayer together at the end of our time of sharing. The Virginia Conference has already issued the salary check for Rev. Johnson and he is reactivated into the pension program. Upon receipt of that bill, our Conference will pay the back pension portion that we were required to do. Of course, the Conference has kept the Johnsons on health insurance during the time of the leave.

This past week after our Cabinet meeting, Rev. Johnson and the South Hill United Methodist Church were informed about his return as Senior Pastor to South Hill, effective November 20. He and the church leaders are committed to a ministry of reconciliation in these days ahead. A team of trained Conference leaders will go to the church at the appropriate time for facilitating healing and moving forward with their ministries. We are grateful for the interim leadership of Rev. Brown O’Quinn, and the continuing leadership of the Associate pastor, Lee Warren.

The Judicial Council has made its rulings that affect the Virginia Conference by a 4-3 majority vote*, with three members dissenting. The Council of Bishops has unanimously approved and issued a Pastoral Letter to the people called United Methodist that disagrees with the rulings. It is important to remember that we have the Judicial Council, the Council of Bishops, and the General Conference that serve as checks and balances in our democratic form of polity as The United Methodist Church. Because there are so many people who disagree with the rulings of the Judicial Council, including the global body of the bishops, the options for challenging those decisions will go forward. In the meantime, we live together working toward restoring our unity in Jesus Christ. I ask for your prayers for the whole Church as we live into the future and pray God’s grace be evident in us and through us as disciples of Christ. May God’s love shine through each of you.

Faithfully yours,

Bishop Charlene Kammerer

* Clarification Regarding Vote of Judicial Council

It has come to my attention that there is an inaccuracy in the reporting of the vote of Judicial Council docket items #1031 and #1032 in my letter yesterday. I was speaking to #1032 when citing the vote as 4-3. That was the initial information provided to the Council of Bishops when the decisions were released. The Secretary of the Judicial Council informs me that the vote was actually 5-3. In regard to #1031, the vote was 8-0 by members of the Judicial Council.

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