Wisconsin’s clergy covenant team — a group that was commissioned by the annual conference after the Amy DeLong trial — released its recommendations for consideration at the upcoming Wisconsin Annual Conference. The group’s web site says the recommendations will go to the clergy session.
Jeremy Smith has written favorably about it here.
The purpose of the group was to make proposals to help repair the covenant among clergy in Wisconsin. One section that seems to capture the heart of the document’s goals is quoted here:
The Wisconsin Annual Conference will no longer participate in the Book of Discipline’s categorical discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. Sexual orientation and partnered status create no barrier to effective and faithful leadership.
The Wisconsin Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church professes that any person whose gifts and call are otherwise affirmed will be welcomed into candidacy, ordination and appointment.
GLBT persons already ordained will now be free to live un-closeted and truthful lives, without threats of retributive action.
Additionally, United Methodist clergy in the Wisconsin Annual Conference will be free from complaint, punishment, prosecution or trial if he/she conducts same-gender Holy Union ceremonies.
This report came from an original group with 12 members. Four members apparently left the group for reasons that are not mentioned in the report. The original 12, with the drop outs highlighted in red are:
- Rev. Doyle Blanton
- Rev. Amy DeLong
- Rev. Maribel Celiz
- Rev. Rosalind Dryver-Scott
- Rev. Dan Fahs
- Rev. Dawn Helton-Anishinaabeqwa
- Rev. Bill McBride
- Rev. Steve Scott
- Rev. Forrest Wells
- Rev. John Wells
- Rev. Dave Werner
- Rev. Wesley White
The group that produced the report made an effort to be transparent by putting up a public web site to track its work and proposals. The site includes a long look at the concept of covenant in the Book of Discipline and notes from meetings, which contain some interesting tidbits.
For instance, here is a quote from the group’s published meeting summary for Oct. 15, 2012:
We recognized there is a certain “guilt by association” for being a part of this group. The assumption being that we are all just Amy [DeLong] groupies and some of our colleagues won’t speak or have coffee with us because of our presence here. This led to a counter assumption that folks feel our current state of affairs is “good enough”, that the pain level of some is acceptable and we can just keep going as we have.
The summary from November 26, 2012, touches on the group’s discussions about the Book of Discipline and its work.
Regarding our Book of Discipline, it was noted that we have successfully taught that to be a person of good faith, covenant means nothing more than obedience to the current Discipline. One response to this was, “We are bound by more than the Discipline. We believe our driving principle is that we are called to obey the command to love. We are called into a community that is guided by the commandment to love. Period. No categorical exclusions.”
We wrestled for a while with the implications of working to change the Discipline vs. living by the letter of the Discipline because that’s what we now have vs. civilly disobeying the Discipline on grounds of injustice to those whom it excludes. (Note: as is usual with these reports this is an oversimplification of the conversation.)
If a clergy person desires an appointment (even a self-avowed practicing…) they will be appointed to a church that will accept their ministry
To me that reads in context as if the bishop was offering that assurance to the group. That might not be the correct interpretation, though.
It will be interesting to see how the clergy in Wisconsin vote on the proposal.