Recent decisions of the General Conference and the Ruling of the Judicial Council.
We had 348 Hyde Park parishioners take the survey, representing almost 50 percent of our worshipping congregation. Due to the high response level, the following results are a reliable measure of our current thoughts and feelings.
We had 348 Hyde Park parishioners take the survey, representing almost 50 percent of our worshipping congregation. Due to the high response level, the following results are a reliable measure of our current thoughts and feelings. Age demographics were as follows: Under 25 – 5% 25-45 – 13% 46-65 – 30% Over 65 – 53% Three questions related to inclusion were asked. (Percentages are rounded up or down.) 1. Would you be accepting of a clergy person who openly identifies as LGBTQ becoming a part of the clergy staff at HPCUMC? Yes – 85% No – 10% No Opinion – 4% 2. Should our pastors be permitted to marry same-sex couples? Yes – 81% No – 13% No Opinion – 6% 3. Should same-sex marriages take place on our church property? Yes – 80% No – 12% No Opinion – 7% The results for persons under 46 years of age and over 46 years of age were as follows: Under 46 (N=60) 1. Would you be accepting of a clergy person who openly identifies as LGBTQ becoming a part of the clergy staff at HPCUMC? Yes – 95% No – 5% No Opinion – 2% 2. Should our pastors be permitted to marry same-sex couples? Yes – 92% No – 8% No Opinion – 2% 3. Should same-sex marriages take place on our church property? Yes – 90% No – 8% No Opinion – 3% Over 46 (N=288) 1. Would you be accepting of a clergy person who openly identifies as LGBTQ becoming a part of the clergy staff at HPCUMC? Yes – 84% No – 10% No Opinion – 5% 2. Should our pastors be permitted to marry same-sex couples? Yes – 80% No – 13% No Opinion – 7% 3. Should same-sex marriages take place on our church property? Yes – 78% No – 13% No Opinion – 8%
Q. What options are we exploring to ensure HPCUMC remains a vibrant, welcoming and growing church in the future? While other options may present themselves in the days ahead, these three possibilities seem to be the leading choices amongst like-minded churches right now. 1) Stay and resist; 2) Disaffiliate alone; (become independent) 3) Disaffiliate with others and hope to form a new conference/fresh expression of Methodism 4)Disaffiliate We continue to be in meaningful conversations with our conference, like-minded churches across the country, and the greater United Methodist Church leadership structure. 1. Stay and resist Strengths: connection to broader church, saves cost of exit, pastoral certification, retains voice in United Methodist Church and guaranteed appointments Weaknesses: institution does not represent our values, clergy forced to risk livelihood, opposes our survey results potential to do more harm, association with the negative connotations of the UMC/tarnished brand, so far has been ineffective Opportunities: we try to change the Book of Discipline, Wesleyan Covenant Association chooses to leave, build alliances with like-minded churches, reclaim the brand Threats: cost of the fight, forces us to become ‘one issue’, polity shifts, demographic changes, core commitments are threatened, mission and vision would be threatened, WCA unlikely to leave 2. Disaffiliate alone Strengths: no obligations to a larger institution, flexibility, completely inclusive values, not subject to future apportionments, staff are protected, write own statements of belief, leaving a dying institution Weaknesses: no support from others, separation from UMC, loss of connectivity, missional and seminary, cost of disaffiliation, including staff benefits etc., loss of membership Opportunities: quick, clearly defined, hire own clergy, self- supportive, less bureaucracy, gain new membership, develop own marketing materials Threats: lack of job protection, cost of disaffiliation, strained relationship with other churches, need for increased staff 3. Disaffiliate with others and hope to form a new conference/fresh expression of Methodism Strengths: fully live our values, clergy protected, have more influence in decision making processes Weaknesses: waiting hurts us, lose some inclusivity, lose missional connection, options are not clear at this time Opportunities: stream lined bureaucracy, freedom to grow again, create new accountability, finances are ours to manage, frees us to mission, freedom from AC inaction, can write a new book of discipline. Threats: lost missional connection, clergy long term and interim, pension costs
In February, the United Methodist General Conference (the official body responsible for church governance) adopted what was called the “Traditional Plan.”
That plan affirmed official exclusionary language and policies concerning LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church, and imposed severe penalties on Pastors who violated those policies
(for example, by officiating same-sex weddings).
The General Conference also enacted provisions to allow dissenting congregations or other United Methodist organizations to exit the denomination, as well as a petition that protects clergy pensions.
After the vote, the legislation was appealed to the Judicial Council,
a nine-member body tasked with deciding whether proposed
church legislation comports with the church’s constitution and existing rules.
The Traditional Plan, which passed by a narrow majority at the most recent General Conference, affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage.
General Conference The global meeting of The United Methodist Church. This gathering occurs every four years and includes a maximum of 1000 voting delegates (half clergy, half laity) elected from each Annual Conference to vote on matters of church law on behalf of the denomination. Jurisdictional Conference This regional collection of Annual Conferences meets following General Conference for the purpose of electing Bishops for their geographical region. The Norht Western Jurisdiction includes the West Ohio Conference, which is HPC’s Annual Conference. Annual Conference Geographical areas are separated into Annual Conferences based on density of UMC congregations in any particular area. Each Annual Conference is led by a Bishop, elected out of the Jurisdiction. The West Ohio Annual Conference includes two thirds of the state of Ohio. Bishop Gregory Palmer is the episcopal leader of the West Ohio Conference. Districts Each Annual Conference is sub-divided into districts, each led by a District Superintendent. HPC is part of the Ohio River Valley District.
HPC has not made a decision to disaffiliate with the United Methodist Church at this point in time. In April, the HPC Servant Leadership Board established the Task Force on a Way Forward to help lead our planning. This group has gathered information and sent 2 recommendations to the SLB in October.
The Task Force’s work included research of General Conference actions and Judicial council decisions; multiple listening sessions; an all Church survey and continued evaluation of denominational options. The SLB will ensure that our assets are protected and continue to be used in ministry. Pastoral Leadership is in close dialogue with the West Ohio Conference, North Central Jurisdiction, and leadership throughout the country on the challenges in front
We are in a prayer-filled discernment process, in the future, should the Task Force conclude that a gracious exit is best for the future of HPC, both SLB and the congregation will have their voices heard, in a vote, prior to any decision.
We will pay 100% of our apportionships, however, holding back in escrow, our General Conference apportionments as leverage to move the denomination to become fully inclusive.
HPC has never been and will never be a “one issue church.” LGBTQ exclusion was pressed upon us by the vote at General Conference in February and we have no choice but to respond. We believe that exclusion of any people because of their sexuality, race, gender, or for any other reason is discriminatory, against Wesleyan teachings, and incompatible with HPC’s values. As the Task Force considers our options, we remain focused on the core value of our HPC family, that all persons are of sacred worth.
Loss of our church property is a very remote possibility. All United Methodist Church property is held in trust for the conference in which it’s located, which in our case is the West Ohio Conference. The so-called “trust clause” exists so that in the event of a church closure, or a congregation being unable to meet its bills over the long term, the property can be used to start or support new ministries in the West Ohio Conference.
Before such a decision can be made, there is a long process of evaluation, involving several conference level committees and a West Ohio Conference vote which requires a 2/3 majority, to close the church and repurpose the property.
Under even the simplest of scenarios, that process takes several years. None of those conditions apply here at HPC: we are a thriving congregation doing strong ministry.
Finally, an important part of the work of the Task Force is to ensure that we will be able to protect our material assets and continue to use them in our ministry. The Task Force will be carefully reviewing our options and reporting back to the congregation. Any decision to exit the denomination would need to be approved by both SLB and congregational votes.
The Judicial Council has determined that an exit must meet three minimum requirements:
• Approval of the disaffiliation resolution by a two thirds majority of members of the church present and voting at the church conference.
• Establishment of the terms and conditions, including the effective date, of the agreement between the West Ohio Conference and the exiting local church by the conference board of trustees in accordance with applicable church law and civil laws.
• Ratification of the disaffiliation agreement by a simple majority of the members of the West Ohio Conference present and voting.