Statement on Judicial Council Decision 1341
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am proud and thankful to be a Methodist. The term, "Methodist" was assigned to our founder, John Wesley, and the members of his "holy club." The term was meant to be critical and condemning because the members of Wesley's small band were "methodical" in the way that they attended to the practice of ministry and soul care.
Today I take great pleasure in knowing that the denomination that I love has a process and a plan designed to hold its members accountable while doing its best to assure a fair process when addressing a variety of issues. Our process seems, at times, long and complex when it comes to rendering a final decision. I am reminded that Jesus, though often pressed and pushed, never rushed to a decision. Jesus was not reactionary; he was responsive.
The Judicial Council released its decision on a request for a declaratory decision from the South-Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) in response to the Western Jurisdiction's (WJ) nomination, election, consecration and assignment of Reverend Karen Oliveto as a Bishop of the United Methodist Church.
In its decision, the Judicial Council ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law. The Judicial Council went on to say that Bishop Oliveto "remains in good standing, until an administrative or judicial process is completed." [All UM pastors are deemed to be in "good standing" until they are found guilty, through due process, of violating the Book of Discipline.]
The decision of the Judicial Council rightly recognizes that their initial decision is only one step in our judicial process. The ruling by the Judicial Council is not the final step!
So, what does this mean for the people called "Methodist" and what does this mean for the IGRC?
- First and foremost, it means that our process is ongoing. I say to the Superintendents when we face difficult challenges as a Cabinet, "trust the process because the process does work!"
- Secondly, it means that Bishop Oliveto will continue to serve as a Bishop while the process continues.
- Finally, it means that we all must continue to exercise patience, grace, and fervency in prayer as we seek "a way forward" as a denomination attempting to address complex issues during difficult times.
The ruling of the Judicial Council does not alter or change our Book of Discipline. Only the General Conference has the legislative power to change our denomination wide polity and discipline. The mission of the IGRC and of the United Methodist Church has not changed. Our mission is "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Please join me in praying for unity during our search for common ground around diverse views, for our denomination and its process, for the General Church's "Way Forward Commission," for revival and renewal to happen in the IGRC, and for lost sheep to be found.
Please also remember to pray for me as I do my best to listen and discern the direction the Lord would have us go as an Episcopal Area. The peace of the resurrected Lord be with each of us as we walk together in the love of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Frank J. Beard
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