Unauthorized Conduct – Par. 341.6
There is no corresponding legislation in the One Church Plan directing local churches to have a process whereby they might come to a decision about same-sex marriage on church property. Without such being added, this petition keeps a little secret that clergy can pull out to deny LGBTQ+ persons from being married. “Golly, this church hasn’t voted on a policy for you to get married, so—No!”
Amend ¶ 341.6 as follows:
6. Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions same-sex marriage shall not be performed conducted by clergy our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches on church-owned property unless the church decides by a majority vote of a Church Conference to adopt a policy to celebrate same-sex marriage on church property.
- This petition throws the whole denominational debate back to a local congregation with no anticipated help to develop a policy. Not to help prepare congregations for a decision about marriage is just lousy process and a set-up for failure. It takes years to become a Reconciling Congregation where this decision would be a matter of no consequence.
- We are taking the denominational angst and thrusting it upon a local congregation where decisions really do make a practical difference. It can be expected that this little clergy-first, congregation-second process will lead to more rancor and division.
- There will be continuing pain for LGBTQ+ persons and their families even in a helpful process as they are re-traumatized by being debated about in their local setting. To have no process nearly guarantees unnecessary hurt.
I would hope delegates would spend the time to come up with an additional petition that may be attached somewhere such as ¶204. Care of Members. A starting proposal is:
Amend ¶204 through addition of a concluding paragraph:
Each local church shall have a statement affirming or denying same-sex marriage on church property by 2024. It is recommended that a process be used for making such a decision that is developed by a joint effort of the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Discipleship Ministries.
Of course, this will cost money, but this discrimination has already cost millions of dollars and the lives of too many members. Obviously, still another petition would have to be developed to put this work in the respective Boards. Savvy delegates can figure out how to do this.
A local method-less congregational approach is likely to default to the limitation of the loudest of those who “do not condone” LGBTQ+ persons being married or a clergyperson who would do so. It is patently unfair for General Conference to pass its own 46-year history of avoidance down the line to annual conferences, districts, and congregations.