Ministering to all in covenantal relationships

Resolution for the 2010 New York Annual Conference

Whereas, the New York Annual Conference has affirmed many times its commitment to inclusive ministry and its opposition to the UMC’s policies that exclude God’s lesbian and gay children from participation in the full life of the church; and

Whereas, clergy are called to minister equally to all their congregants and the UMC Book of Discipline’s rule that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches” (¶341.6) makes it impossible to carry out this charge within the confines of Discipline obedience; and

Whereas, in 1999, the New York Annual Conference passed a petition that stated “we earnestly urge members of this annual conference to exercise restraint in the filing of complaints against clergy who are called to inclusive ministries under ¶65.C and ¶2624.1.e, subjecting them to consequent trials and penalties; and further, that if charges should nonetheless be brought and trials eventuate, and should convictions occur and penalties be found unavoidable, we counsel that such trial courts under our jurisdiction, in faithfulness to the covenant which unites us, to employ fairness, spiritual discernment, juridical flexibility, and due respect for this conference’s evangelical commitment to inclusive ministry in devising penalties commensurate both with our ministry and with the adjudged violation(s) of the Discipline; and further, that the penalties such a trial court may determine ought to reflect this conference’s belief that the current state of law in the United Methodist Church inhibits appropriate pastoral freedom in grace to respond fully and completely to God’s call to inclusive ministries” (petition #99-408); and

Whereas, in the 11 years since the passage of that resolution, significant strides have been made towards marriage equality in civil society; and specifically, same-sex marriage is now legal in Connecticut; and further, in New York, legal same-sex marriages from other states are afforded full recognition, with all rights and benefits attendant to such marriages extended to all people married in other states; and

Whereas, it is right and appropriate for this conference to provide guidance to clergy who are seeking to minister with integrity to members of their congregation who can have their relationships recognized beyond church walls but not within them; therefore be it

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference reaffirm its 1999 resolution and this conference’s longstanding commitment to inclusive ministry that it exemplifies; and be it further

Resolved, that the conference urge clergy to minister equally to all members of their churches and to consider the conference’s call to inclusive ministries in deciding how to honor their congregants’ covenantal commitments; and be it further

Resolved, that the conference strengthen its lived efforts to foster inclusive ministries by recommending, in the unfortunate case that there be charges brought that result in trials and convictions of clergy who have blessed gay or lesbian relationships, that the penalty for such actions be one day of paid leave. 

Passed June 11, 2010