Open Letters to the United Methodist Council of Bishops
Welcome to the web site FaithfulUMC.com. This site has several open letters addressed to the Council of Bishops. The letter from July 2012 regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert follows immediately. This letter calls for accountability, but is not seeking to have laity and clergy sign on in support.
Previous letters from July 2011 to the Council of Bishops asking them to enforce the Book of Discipline are below and did invite signatures.
Open Letter Calls for Censure, Charges Against Retired Bishop
More than seventy prominent United Methodist clergy and laity have written an open letter to the Council of Bishops calling upon the Council to hold retired Bishop Melvin Talbert accountable for provocatively encouraging clergy to disobey the denomination's prohibition on same-sex marriage.
At a May 4 rally following General Conference, and again at the California-Pacific Conference ordination service in June, Bishop Talbert called for the schismatic action. "The derogatory rules and restrictions in the Book of Discipline are immoral and unjust and no longer deserve our loyalty and obedience … I call on the more than 1,100 clergy [who have signed marriage initiatives] to stand firm in their resolve to perform marriages for same-sex couples and to do so in the course of their normal pastoral duties, thus defying the laws that prohibit them from doing so…."
At the July meeting of the Western Jurisdictional Conference, Bishop Talbert was appointed to lead the Western Jurisdiction's College of Bishops in its Strategic Plan for Gospel Obedience. This plan was enacted to challenge bishops, clergy, laity and local churches and ministry settings to operate as if the statement printed in the denomination's law book — Paragraph 161F ["The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching."] — "does not exist."
"We are deeply concerned that Bishop Talbert has undercut that very discipline and order," states the letter, "by encouraging dissension, disunity and disobedience, and advocating anarchy and chaos in response to the actions of the 2012 General Conference, taken after focused prayer, study, and holy conferencing."
The letter requests the executive committee of the Council of Bishops to publicly censure Bishop Talbert for his remarks and to file complaints against him for (1) "disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church [in violating his responsibility to uphold that order and discipline], (2) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church, and (3) engaging in behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor" (Book of Discipline, ¶2702.1e, f, g).
"The actions of Bishop Talbert specifically, and any of those retired and active bishops who stood with him, knowing what he was prepared to say, directly contravene this commitment made by the Council of Bishops as a whole [to uphold the Book of Discipline as established by General Conference]," the letter states.
The letter also called upon the 14 other retired and active bishops who stood with Bishop Talbert in Tampa as he made his declaration to either publicly repudiate Bishop Talbert's call to perform same-sex unions or themselves be censured by the Council of Bishops.
The 70 signers included pastors of both large and small congregations, representing various regions of the country and every United Methodist jurisdiction. Also signing were clergy and lay members of the Boards of Directors of the Confessing Movement and Good News.
The open letter – and the eventual response from the Council of Bishops – will be posted at www.faithfulumc.com.
Hand-written signatures may be mailed to:
The Woodlands United Methodist Church
2200 Lake Woodlands Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77380
Thank you for your support in standing
for scriptural integrity and covenantal
unity within The United Methodist Church.
Clergy Letter to the Council of Bishops
Dear Council of Bishops:
We are writing out of genuine love and deep concern for our church. We believe that the unity and the future of The United Methodist Church are in jeopardy.
According to The United Methodist Reporter "more than 900 UM clergy, in conferences across the country (The United States), have pledged to officiate at same-sex weddings and other services celebrating homosexual unions." In the same article, the Rev. Bruce Robbins (identified as the originator of this movement) "acknowledged he had been discouraged by failures to effect change in the church's positions on homosexuality either legislatively or through Judicial Council rulings, and sought a different approach."
For forty years we United Methodists have listened to each other, respected each other and have engaged in holy conferencing on the important issues of same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. And every four years, our discussions have culminated in General Conference determining the church's position. Though the discussions and resultant protests have not always been pleasant, there has been the assurance that we would respect the decisions of General Conference and live by the covenant that holds us together. The unity of The United Methodist Church has been preserved as a result of this commitment to holy conferencing and to respecting the decisions of General Conference.
Lay Statement to the Council of Bishops
Dear Council of Bishops:
We the undersigned have a genuine love and deep concern for our church. We believe that the unity and the future of The United Methodist Church are in jeopardy.
Thirty-six retired bishops have called upon The United Methodist Church to reverse its long-standing position on the practice of homosexuality and same-sex "marriage"
According to The United Methodist Reporter "more than 900 UM clergy, in conferences across the [United States] have pledged to officiate at same-sex weddings and other services celebrating homosexual unions."
The Northern Illinois Annual Conference passed a resolution saying that clergy who disobey the Book of Discipline by performing services celebrating homosexual unions should receive only a 24-hour suspension.
In a recent trial, a UM clergyperson who performed a holy union service was given only a 20-day suspension and invited to write a paper promoting her views on how to resolve this issue.
Various annual conference groups are enlisting clergy to perform same-sex weddings and publicize their availability to the gay community, as well as the broader public.