By now, most if not all of you have heard about the recent decision of the Judicial Council regarding the nomination, election, assignment and consecration of an openly gay bishop in the Western Jurisdiction. This decision was in response to a request for a declaratory decision by the South Central Jurisdiction, of which we are members. It is the expressed authority of each jurisdiction to elect bishops of the church. There are five jurisdictions within the United States.
The Judicial Council ruled that the consecration was against church law; however because of jurisdictional authority, stopped short of ruling on the other matters of nomination, election and assignment, pending the completion of an administrative or supervisory complaint process. In the United Methodist Church all clergy are entitled to due process under church law. It is my understanding that there are several complaints in process regarding the actions in the Western Jurisdiction and until that process is complete, no decision can be made.
I want to ask that all of us remain calm and continue to focus on the mission of the church. Some things are out of our control and hands. We have processes and methods in place to address this issue. We also have a recently appointed Commission that is meeting to present a report in February 2019 to a called session of General Conference to determine a way forward for the church. I hope we will continue to have renewed patience in the midst of our differences and difficulties. The 2016 Book of Discipline has not and did not change regarding the issue of human sexuality. As your assigned bishop, I took a vow at my ordination as clergy and also at my consecration as a bishop to uphold the order and discipline of the church. I intend to do that and keep my commitment with grace and humility. The District Superintendents join me in this commitment to uphold The Discipline. I’m asking each of our clergy, as well, to remember your ordination vows and to continue to lead in a Christ-like manner as we seek a way forward in the church.
I want to thank all the churches and individuals who committed to pray for the church and ask that you continue to pray for the church. It is through prayer and fasting that we are able to be sustained and nurtured in the midst of adversity.
Grace & Peace,
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe