Resolutions approved by South Central Jurisdictional Conference

Date Posted: 11/10/2022

 
By Lindsay Peyton
 
Three resolutions were approved at the recent South Central Jurisdiction, held Nov. 2-5 in Houston. One measure establishes a new structure to empower regional conferences, while another asks individuals leaving the denomination to step back from leadership roles. The third resolution is intended to provide greater justice and support to LGBTQIA+ United Methodists.
 
The first resolution, “Leading with Integrity,” was introduced by Shandon Klein, a
lay delegate from the North Texas Conference. The measure, which passed with a 138-30 vote, asks all delegates intending to leave the denomination to recuse themselves from church leadership roles.
 
The resolution states “leaders who do not intend to remain in The United Methodist Church entangle themselves in a significant conflict of interest.” Respect and gratitude are granted to leaders who voluntarily step away from leadership positions, in an effort to ensure fairness and integrity moving forward.
 
The measure explained that decisions about the United Methodist Church should be made by those who “are wholeheartedly committed to its future.” This includes those at the local church, district, conference, jurisdictional and general church level, as well as serving on committees, boards, agencies or delegations or as episcopal leaders.
 
The second resolution, “Support of a U.S. Regional Conference,” 140-24 vote.  Rev. Kim Jenne, clergy delegate from Missouri, submitted the proposition.
 
The measure states that the existing structure of UMC at the general church level has “historically impeded each region from effectively tailoring its ministry to its specific contexts” and “diminishes our ability to be a vital and effective church.”
 
To allow for “more fair and equitable church governance” the U.S. Regional Conference would comprise the five jurisdictions in the country, with three committee members per jurisdiction who meet standards of racial and gender diversity. This plan is similar to one outlined in the Christmas Covenant provided by Central Conference bishops.
 
The third resolution, “Queer Delegates’ Call to Center Justice and Empowerment for LGBTQIA+ People in the UMC, was approved with a 128-35 vote. Jesi Lipp, a lay delegate from the Great Plains Conference, introduced the proposal, which was signed by a number of other delegates from various Conferences.
 
The resolution responds to the passage of the “Traditional Plan” in the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, which increased penalties for clergy who are LGBTQIA+ and for pastors who officiate at LGBTQIA+ weddings.
 
The measure states that “we understand our call and responsibility as United Methodists to do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God” and calls on all allies “to do good by using their voice and vote to support, empower, and amplify the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community in The United Methodist Church.”
 
The act would support and amplify queer delegates and implore members to “either not pursue or resolve in an appropriately timely fashion through a non-punitive, just resolution process any complaints against clergy regarding their sexual orientation or clergy who officiate weddings of LGBTQIA+ persons.”
 
The resolution was met with a request for a bishop’s declaration of law by Great Plains lay delegate Dixie Brewster, who described herself as traditional, conservative, orthodox evangelical. She suggested that the measure be taken up by the General Conference.
 
Bishop Cynthia Harvey, who presided over the Thursday morning session, said the bishops would respond to the request for a decision in the next 30 days, the time frame required by the Book of Discipline.