June 28, 2019
Dear Belmont friends,
I am not really sure just where to start with the good news from our Tennessee Annual Conference 2019. I might start by mentioning our youth reading an open letter to the Tennessee Conference, five Belmonters being elected to General or Jurisdictional Conference in 2020, the Conference voting in the most diverse and progressive delegation, the standing ovation for John Pearce, Jefferson Furtado’s ordination, the Conference adopting an Inclusive Resolution, our uniting with the Memphis Conference or just the civility and kindness within the Conference! Over the next few weeks I will share a bit about each of these!
Perhaps, I am most proud to report that with a 62% majority, our Conference adopted an Inclusion Resolution in what was largely a civil, theological and Christ-like debate. Yes, we heard a few references to the clobber passages, but our debate mostly moved beyond proof texting. Rev. Stephen Sauls called us to uphold the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction to comfort the hurting and seek reconciliation with our Christian kindred. (Matthew 5:23)
We rejoice that the Tennessee Conference resolved:
“Whereas, the United Methodist Church has a tradition of great nuance in the matter of Biblical interpretation (such as displayed in its treatment of slavery, divorce, and the ordination of women) but reverts to simplistic literalism when addressing full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ in its life and ministry; (2) And whereas, the United Methodist Church has singled out LGBTQIA+ persons and those who support full inclusion for special punitive actions; … And whereas, the first general rule John Wesley gave the people called Methodists was, “Do no harm;” … And whereas, by passing the Traditional Plan, the denomination has done great harm, and perhaps irreparable harm, to our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters; … (and to) our witness to the world as to the unconditional and inclusive love of Christ; Therefore … the Tennessee Conference apologizes for the harm that actions at the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference have caused LGBTQIA+ persons, their families, their friends, and the body of Christ. We affirm that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” and urge all in ministry, whether lay or clergy, to affirm that no human being is incompatible with Christian teaching.(3) And be it further resolved, that we urge all lay and clergy in the Tennessee Conference to make all reasonable efforts to address issues related to LGBTQIA+ ordination and marriage in a manner so as to treat church trials and judicial processes as a last resort.”
Next week, we will share a little bit about our five folks connected to Belmont elected to the UMC General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation!
Grace and Peace,