Love Prevails went to Atlanta to observe the first face-to-face meeting of The Commission on (Not) A Way Forward. When we arrived, we were told that the Commission meeting was a closed meeting. In addition, we were informed that we were not allowed to even be in the building. Not even to go to the bathroom.
Hired security prevented any persons not on a pre-approved list of visitors from entering the General Board of Global Ministries Building, where the meeting is being held. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of the Board of Global Ministries informed members of Love Prevails that in order for leaders of The Commission to approve of holding the meeting at GBGM, GBGM had to promise to put a tight security plan in place to prevent unwanted guests from entering the premises.
United Methodists were denied entrance into a building paid for by United Methodist apportionment dollars.
Pursuant to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, Love Prevails questioned the legality of The Commission being closed. Love Prevails sees this Commission as authorized by General Conference and thus required to be open. We sent a communication to Bishop Ken Carter, one of the co-chairs of The Commission, asking him to clarify the process and justification by which this meeting was closed to public observation.
Bishop Carter sent Love Prevails the following response, which makes reference to a Judicial Council footnote as its justification.
It is dangerous that the Council of Bishops has claimed authority over the entire process of this Commission.
We decry the Council of Bishops for their utter lack of transparency and commitment to maintain the institution over the pursuit of justice and love. The Commission is a farce.
From Bishop Ken Carter:
Dear Leaders of Love Prevails,
Thank you for your inquiry about the January meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward. Attendance at the meeting was limited to members and staff in the interest of building trust and relationships among the membership.
The Commission on a Way Forward reports to the Council of Bishops, which is governed by the rules of procedure according to paragraph 722. Judicial Council decision 869, which relates to paragraph 722, draws a distinction between the Council of Bishops and agencies, and between administrative order and the nature of superintendency.
We will be reporting on the work of the Commission to the church. We plan to design future opportunities to hear from constituents across the church, in a variety of ways. We hope you will participate in one of these opportunities.
The Peace of the Lord,
Moderators: Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter