April 26, 2019
Dear Beloved United Methodists in New England,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The United Methodist Judicial Council in its decisions 1378 and 1379, April 26, 2019, affirmed, for the most part, the decisions made by the 2019 special session of General Conference.
The rulings are consistent with its previous decisions regarding parts of the Traditional Plan – upholding some and deeming others unconstitutional. See a story from United Methodist News for details of the rulings.
Council of Bishops President Bishop Ken Carter has issued a response to the rulings on behalf of the Council. You can read that here.
Some notable points:
The legislation deemed constitutional:
The changes to The Book of Discipline go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 in the U.S. and in May of 2021 in the Central Conferences (Philippines, Africa, and Europe).
(New England Conference Chancellor William Hewig III has produced an executive summary of Decisions 1378 and 1379. Read the summary.)
So what does this mean for the New England Conference?
This decision does not change the positions stated by my Cabinet and me and our Board of Ordained Ministry prior to and after the called session of General Conference.
We in New England are not of one mind on several matters of theology and social principle, however, we continue to repent of the ways in which our legislative and judicial process does harm to individual persons and groups – particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA – and fails us in our Christian mandate to love one another after the example of Jesus.
Our churches, camps and retreat centers, food pantries and other meal programs, child care centers, and institutions of higher learning, are and will continue to be open to ALL persons.
I have been gathering with districts for holy conversations in the past couple of weeks, and will continue to do so in these next few days and weeks (see schedule). As always, my door is open to any who wish to join with me in further conversation and prayer.
Regardless of where we stand on the decisions before us, my prayer is that we would join hand-in-hand as disciples of Jesus Christ. Will you kindly join me in prayer for all of our churches, clergy and laity, especially those who continue to be hurt by these decisions.
May we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all we do and say so that we will embody the love of Christ. We know we stand in need of God's grace, and welcome all to participate with us as we continue to seek peace and to live in love with God and one another; and we remain committed to our central mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
In Christ’s Love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar