By David Reinholz
May 12, 2016 | Portland, Oregon
After a morning spent discussing and ultimately rejecting Rule 44, the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church got down to business in legislative committees. This is business as usual, because Rule 44 would have allowed a different way of doing our work. Rule 44 would have assigned delegates to small groups to allow for deep listening, wisdom weaving, and discerning the will of the body around difficult issues. So, here we are…and here we go!
Each legislative committee has dozens of petitions to review and act upon over the next few days. Hundreds of the proposed changes to the Book of Discipline deal with human sexuality. These petitions range from a proposal that states “homosexuality is a sin” to the removal of such restrictive language altogether. This issue will come up in every committee in some fashion. Human sexuality is the “hot button” issue, again.
There are proposed changes to general boards and agencies under Plan UMC (Revised), parts of which were ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council just a few days ago. Those pushing for Plan UMC are busy rewriting legislation in the hope that these petitions can be ruled constitutional and acted upon.
There are proposals to do away with guaranteed appointments and impose term limits for bishops. And, there are numerous proposals to enforce consequences for pastors, bishops, and jurisdictions that do not enforce the Book of Discipline regarding ordination of LGBTQ clergy and the performance of gay marriages.
So, we have our work cut out for us. God help us do this work faithfully and with love and grace.
David Reinholz is the PNW Conference Associate Lay Leader and serves as the reserve lay delegate to General Conference. He is a retired USAF officer and former high school teacher. David’s passions include music and mentoring youth and young adults.
Photo Credit: A Discipleship Subcommittee at work discussing legislation. Photo by Teri Tobey for the PNW Conference.