Commendation of Those Who Have Taken a Stand for Justice

Resolution for the 2013 annual conference

Whereas, the New York Annual Conference has taken a consistent stand for more than thirty years calling for the inclusion of God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children in the full life of the United Methodist Church (see NYAC’s Stand for God’s LGBT Children). It has affirmed that “sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons” and that the diversity of that gift should bar no one from answering the call to ministry, from recognition of her or his covenantal relationships, or from membership in the church community; and,

Whereas, the New York Annual Conference has supported same-sex couples’ right to full equality in civil society (2003 and 2007), has opposed the United Methodist Church’s prohibition against same-sex marriages (1999 and 2010), and has supported the recognition that the “sanctity of marriage” applies equally to same-sex couples (2007); and,

Whereas, the jurisdiction of the New York Annual Conference includes parts of both the state of New York and the state of Connecticut, states where civil marriage is legal for same-sex couples, presenting a crisis for our churches and clergy who need to provide pastoral care for members and families who are part of our congregations; and,

Whereas, the New York Annual Conference declared in 2012 that “clergy, lay persons and congregations encountering institutional discrimination that inhibits equal access to the means of grace for all persons may feel bound by conscience to offer the ministries and sacraments of the church to all persons on an equal basis” and that “Those who so act according to conscience do so in a way that is consistent with the long-standing principled declarations of this annual conference;” and,

Whereas, there have been many prophetic and pastoral individuals and congregations within the United Methodist Church who have taken actions that are aligned with the New York Annual Conference and our longstanding efforts towards the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the life and ministry in the church; therefore be it

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the Rev. Jimmy Creech for officiating at the covenant services of same-sex couples in 1997 and in 1999, subsequently enduring two church trials in the Nebraska Annual Conference and losing his ministerial credentials; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the Rev. Gregory Dell  for providing pastoral care to same-sex couples in his congregation, Broadway United Methodist Church, in Chicago, Illinois, who endured a church trial in 2000 and was suspended from ministry for a year; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the Rev. Donald Fado and the 67 additional clergy members of the Cal-Nevada Annual Conference who co-officiated at the blessing of a Holy Union in Sacramento in 2000, and the Committee on Investigation of that annual conference, who refused to bring charges against those clergy; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto for her pastoral care to eight couples who were seeking to be married during a one-month period in 2004 when same-sex marriages were briefly legal in San Francisco; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the Rev. Amy DeLong for her pastoral ministry to a same-sex couple in the Wisconsin Annual Conference in 2009 and enduring a church trial for this pastoral act of ministry in 2011; and be it further

Resolved,  that the New York Annual Conference  commend the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree  for his distinguished service to the United Methodist Church as Dean of Drew Theological Seminary , Dean of Yale Divinity School, President of the Society of Christian Ethics, founding pastor of Vestavia Hills UMC of Birmingham, Alabama,  and Civil Rights activist, as well as for his participation in the  drafting of Our Theological Task  (UM Book of Discipline) and for his inspiring witness for equality in the UMC for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the 212 clergy, 945 laity, and 6 congregations within our own annual conference who have pledged to offer pastoral ministry to same-sex couples seeking services of marriage; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend the more than 1,100 clergy across the connection who have pledged that they will also officiate at services for same-sex couples; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend Bishop Melvin Talbert and his call for United Methodists to ignore the prohibitions against GLBT people that are found in the Book of Discipline and saying “I declare to you that the derogatory language and restrictive laws in the Book of Discipline are immoral, and unjust and no longer deserve our loyalty and obedience,” a call which has made him the target of opponents of the LGBT people in the UMC, who have called for his censure; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference commend all of those unnamed clergy, laity, and congregations whose bold actions and courageous statements help to provide for the pastoral needs of same-sex couples within the United Methodist Church.

Passed June 7, 2013

Note: After this resolution was passed at annual conference, a member of the Wesley Fellowship challenged it and asked for a bishop's ruling of law on whether it was permissible under the Book of Discipline. In July, Bishop McLee affirmed the resolution in this ruling of law. The bishop's ruling was upheld by the Judicial Council, which automatically reviews all bishops' rulings of law, on October 26, 2013.  Thus the resolution stands.