By Rev. Daniel Foster | Puget Sound District Superintendent
The following column is republished with permission from July 8th “Spirit of Puget Sound” district newsletter under the heading “Daniel’s Desk.”
As it does once every four years, Annual Conference took place in that nether region between our General and Jurisdictional Conferences. General Conference was a disappointment to many in the PNW, and we won’t know for a few weeks whether or not Jurisdictional Conference will return Bishop Hagiya to us. The possibility exists that we could soon have an entirely new Episcopal leader. Lots happening at the moment, so it’s an interesting time to be a PNW United Methodist!
Adding to the interest level is the “Action of Non-Conformity w/ the General Conference” our AC just took (click here for full text). The floor vote was 315 for & 74 against with 6 abstaining, meaning it was an overwhelming vote of support. However, it also means that just over 20% of those voting were either not in favor, or chose to abstain. I was one of those. Why you ask? Very simple. It was my understanding that GC had entrusted our Bishops with the responsibility of thoroughly examining all pertinent Disciplinary paragraphs in regard to human sexuality, and provide a recommendation which could include a special session of GC to deal specifically w/ this issue. I believe our AC vote did not support this.
As a DS I have a responsibility to support our Episcopal leadership, so in “good conscience” I didn’t feel I could vote in favor of non-conformity. Also, as a DS, I have a mandate to adhere to our UM Book of Discipline, which I take seriously. So until the Discipline changes its position on human sexuality, I will do my best to adhere to its present position.
Does that mean I will then be on some sort of “witch hunt?” Of course not. I’ve been in this position for five years, and I hope you’ve found me to be fair and supportive of everyone I deal with. And I will continue doing so. We are all in this together, no matter where we are on the theological/political divide. I believe that’s a major part of our denominational strength.
However, if you are in accord with the minority “20%,” I want you to know that you do not stand alone. You are still an important part of the PNW family. And if you need someone to help you process what you are feeling, please don’t hesitate to contact me.