During this time, as we await the postponed General Conference 2020, the Minnesota Conference Extended Cabinet wants to make clear our commitments around LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
We believe that God’s grace is offered to all, and we will strive to be lavishly generous when it comes to inclusion.
We are committed to the vision adopted at the 2019 Annual Conference that envisions a Methodist movement rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation. These are and will continue to be our guiding values as a leadership team; we believe they align with our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and our vision for every congregation to be a vital expression of the gospel imperatives to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.
• We affirm the gifts of our LGBTQIA+ clergy. Discernment about clergy credentialing and placement is made based on our stated competencies for ministry. We value diversity in our clergy leadership, including age, gender identity, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural and geographic backgrounds, and theological perspectives within a Wesleyan framework.
• We understand and respect that Minnesota United Methodist clergy who have engaged in prayerful discernment have differing views on officiating marriage ceremonies for LGBTQIA+ couples. No clergy will be expected or compelled to officiate marriage ceremonies that their conscience does not allow. Clergy have always been able to decline officiating marriages for any number of reasons, and clergy will be able to continue to exercise that discretion.
• Bishop Bard has made a commitment to hold in abeyance all Minnesota Conference-related administrative and judicial complaint processes addressing restrictions in the Book of Discipline regarding gay and lesbian clergy and/or same-sex weddings until after General Conference meets and action related to the separation of the denomination can be considered.
• Appointment decisions are first and foremost based on a match of leadership characteristics and missional fit. Consideration is given for the unique situations of clergy and the context for congregations to ensure a strong bond between pastor and people.
• We recognize that we as clergy and lay leaders in the Minnesota Annual Conference are all in different places on our individual journeys; thus, we commit to both engaging in and leading conversations and grace-filled relationship building as each of us continues to learn, grow, and follow God’s call in our lives and our churches.
• All conference ministries, including our Finance and Administration Ministry, do and will continue to extend opportunities and benefits to clergy (and clergy spouses) regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Make a commitment to create safe spaces and then engage in respectful conversation with clergy colleagues who have different theological and biblical convictions than you. Listen to and learn from one another, not with the goal of coming to an agreement but with the goal of seeking to understand another perspective and staying in relationship amid disagreement.
• Respect the individual journeys that clergy colleagues are on. Recognize that people of faith can disagree on matters of great importance and still be in ministry together.
• Provide worship, sacramental, pastoral care, fellowship, and administrative ministry as expressions of a lavishly generous definition of inclusion.
In John 17:20, Jesus prays for his disciples and the disciples yet to come: “I’m praying not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me” (The Message). The body of Christ was never intended to be a fortress to defend individual interests, but rather an organism in which each of us is swept up into a kingdom purpose far greater than ourselves. How we include others and how we include each other will impact how those beyond The United Methodist Church will encounter Jesus in seasons yet to come.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church