Bishop Jones responses to questions following the March 2 video:
Q. How is it with your soul?
A. My heart was breaking during the three days of the General Conference. I am glad to be home and thinking of ways we can move forward while knowing that lots of people are hurting still.
Q. If the Judicial Council ruling is consistent with their prior comments, what will be the effect for churches who are considering disaffiliation?
A. The process for those steps would be under ⁋2548.2 and ⁋2549 of the current Book of Discipline.
Q. What do these decisions mean for transgender and nonbinary candidates or persons wishing to be married?
A. There has been no change in our Book of Discipline on these matters. Candidates who marry someone of the same gender cannot be ordained or appointed. What that means for transgendered or nonbinary persons is not clear.
Q. Under what sort of circumstances would it be considered not possible to include a complaint in a just resolution?
A. The goal of every supervisory response is to achieve a just resolution agreement signed by the complainant, the accused and the bishop.
Q. Has the conference considered how it will relate to seminaries or colleges that dissent or disaffiliate?
A.No consideration of that matter has been undertaken and it is not helpful to speculate about actions that have not yet been taken.
Q. What affect does the minority report have on the financial requirements of the original Taylor exit plan?
A. I expect the Taylor disaffiliation plan to be ruled unconstitutional because it does not address the Judicial Council’s requirement that any such step be approved by the Annual Conference.
Q. Will reconciling congregations be pressured into disaffiliation?
A. I am hoping and praying all congregations remain in The United Methodist Church and no such official pressure will be allowed in the Texas Annual Conference.
Q. Do you have thoughts on how we might better operate as a global community?
A. The publication of the Global Book of Discipline will clarify what parts of our doctrine and discipline are adaptable by Central Conferences and what parts are not. The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters is working on that draft now and it will be considered at the 2020 General Conference.
Q. Will the tensions around GC2019 affect how you as a presider or we as an annual conference approach the process of electing delegates for 2020?
A. These tensions will not affect any of our procedures in electing delegates for the 2020 General Conference.
Q. In your opinion, are the questions about human sexuality, ordination and same sex marriage issues essential to our faith or are they matters of opinion that reasonable Christians can debate and differ? I hear people say “it’s in the Bible and therefore it is so”, so why does the Methodist Church ordain women in light of New Testament passages that women should not have authority over men nor speak in the church? Why does the Methodist Church marry people who have previously been married when Jesus’s words say that unless the divorce was due to adultery the remarriage is adulterous?
A. These are important questions that have been debated at great length in many different ways as people prepared for the General Conference and to some extent by delegates during the three-day session. It is not helpful for me to address them here.
Q. How can the Texas Annual Conference better model holy conferencing and avoid the ugliness witnessed during General Conference?
A. I hope that we have created and will continue to create forums of conversation where people can safely and freely discuss their hopes, their views and their concerns with mutual respect and love. There are few decisions we make as an annual conference on such major issues. Most important is the way in which we go about the election process for delegates to the next General and Jurisdictional Conference and I hope we do so with mutual respect and love.
Q. How does the Bishop think the supporters of the progressive plan will proceed going forward? I get the strong feeling that the progressives will NEVER relent. They will continue to push this issue until they get their way regardless of how long it takes. For those that support the Traditional view of marriage, we have to wonder if this fight is still worth our time.
A. I have acknowledged that people will be making difficult choices in response to the decisions taken by the General Conference. I trust that leaders on all sides of the question will put the cause of Christ highest on their considerations. I trust that people will not violate our Book of Discipline, but will take whatever actions they must take with as much integrity as possible. We should model Catholic Spirit—love for all—in everything we do and say. I believe that we are strong together as a church and that exercising the discipline of the church—a responsibility of all clergy and especially the bishop—is an important part of our missional effectiveness.
Q. I wish to remain anonymous, But I would like to know if he will continue to ordain clergy that are openly disregarding the book of discipline?
A. I will uphold and enforce the Book of Discipline in all respects.
Q. Dr. Ted Campbell on his Facebook page has asked if the Robert's Rules of Order are appropriate for business at the General conference? What is your opinion on how to conduct UMC business?
A. Dr. Len Young, the professional parliamentarian, made excellent points when he oriented the delegates on Saturday. He said Robert’s Rules of Order are essential to fairness and protection of the rights of all parties in a decision-making body. I agree with him. However, the presiding officer needs to do so with the proper demeanor and do his/her job with fairness. I believe all of the presiding officers did their work well during the three days of General Conference.
Q. Bishop Jones, General Conference 2019 was supposed to give the church an opportunity to finally address the question of homosexuality in the UMC. Yet, by the end of the conference, some were vowing to stay, fight, and disobey the discipline.How do you think this General Conference actually changed the conversation? Do you think we just kicked the can to 2020? After the obvious divide was demonstrated in St. Louis, can you still envision a way forward together?
A. I think the report of the Commission on a Way Forward did the UMC a great service by clarifying the options available. Many had sought a “middle way” that would satisfy everyone. The petitions and decisions clarified that no easy answer exists. So, the conversation has been changed and the options clarified. How people choose to respond going forward will shape many things. It is too early to tell what the next General Conference will look like.
Q. Does any section of the modified Traditional Plan, amended and approved by General Conference, require Annual Conferences to vote on any issues? If so, then on what and when will they be voting?
A. Nothing passed at General Conference 2019 requires a vote by any annual conference.