Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the politics of inclusivity

A word from our brothers and sisters of Methodists Students for an All Inclusive Church (for more information on MoSAIC check out their link on the right!):

For several years now, the United Methodist Church has been faced with a membership that is rapidly shrinking and aging. Thus, for the past few years we have seen an increased emphasis on ministries for and with young adults and college students. However, this growing emphasis may face a difficult road in the months to come. The Judicial Council, which will be meeting later this month, currently has two cases before it (Dockets VI and XII), from the Carolina and Pacific Northwest Conferences respectively. In both of these cases the question revolves around funding in the Annual Conference as understood through paragraph 612.19* of the 2004 Discipline. Basically, the situation is this. On the floor of two separate Annual Conferences, the funding to two campus ministries was challenged based solely on the fact that these campus ministries called themselves Reconciling. For those of you who don’t know, this means that these campus ministries are committed to upholding the importance of inclusiveness of all persons, regardless of sexual identity or orientation. So, after being faced with these questions, both of the bishops from these Annual Conferences ruled that there was no problem funding these organizations. However, these decisions have been challenged, and now sit before the Judicial Council.
So, here is really what’s going on. After finding a similar proposal suggested by an advocacy group, two members, one from each of these Annual Conferences, felt it important to challenge the funding of these two campus ministries. While the Bishops of both Annual Conferences felt that the question was not applicable, the issue has been pushed and brought before the Judicial Council. So we sit and wait for the Judicial Council to decide whether or not it’s proper to cut funding to a campus ministry, solely because they stress the importance of inclusiveness. The decision that the Judicial Council makes could set a dangerous precedent by allowing the Annual Conferences to withhold funding from ANY organization that has ties to such a reconciling ideal. The problem we face then is the slippery slope of allowing a conference to withdraw funding from vital and life-saving ministries, based solely on the fact that they feel (with or without full knowledge) that a funded ministry is somehow breaking the laws set forth in the discipline.
However, we have the right and responsibility to take heart. The fact of the matter is, pure and simple, that no matter what the Judicial Council decides, the decision will ultimately work to strengthen the work of the RMN (Reconciling Ministries Network), MoSAIC (Methodist Students for an All Inclusive Church), On Fire, and the MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action). If the Council rules in favor of the Bishops, it is a clear sign that funding will not be jeopardized, at least by a whim of the Annual Conference, for those ministries who hope and work for the cause of inclusiveness. If the Judicial Council rules against the decisions made by each of the Bishops, it will serve as a reason to draw together people who are interested and concerned about ministry with young people and the issue of inclusiveness.

The Judicial Council meeting will occur on October 24th, with decisions to follow. Check back with for updates and responses to their decisions


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