And the answer is a surprising “yes”

November 15, 2013

talbert

 

Click here for more. The traditionalist Institute on Religion & Democracy calls such “high-profile, public insistence by the Council on accountability for one of its own is unprecedented in modern UMC history.” In addition to the inevitable calls for further “conversation” (insert eye-rolling here) and task forces, the bishops wrote:

We respectfully request that Bishop Wenner, President of the Council of Bishops, and Bishop Wallace-Padgett, Resident Bishop of the North Alabama Conference, address the action of Bishop Talbert and file a complaint under the provisions of Paragraph 413 for undermining the ministry of a colleague (Paragraph 2702.1f) and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple (Paragraph 2702.1b) within the bounds of the North Alabama Conference.

I’ve read that this counts as a win for people like me who support our Book of Discipline. I’ll take it.

7 Responses to “And the answer is a surprising “yes””

  1. Clay Knick Says:

    Well. they did it. I’m sure Talbert it thrilled: a trial will get plenty of media attention which may have been one reason he did this. And more conversation. Talk, talk, talk. We’ve talked this to death. I’m bored with it, so tired of it.

    • brentwhite Says:

      I was accused on Twitter of not writing in such a way as to “move the conversation forward.” It makes me roll my eyes. Enough conversation! My mind is closed! I’m not going to change it! If anything, I want to move the conversation “backwards.”

      Methodists! Ugh!

  2. Clay Knick Says:

    Well, I thought so. There is so much smug pride in that word “progressive.”

  3. Tom Griffith Says:

    Well, the predictable happened: Bishop Talbert conducted a blessing of a same-sex union, and did so in the territory of another bishop who asked him not to do so—and in the south, no less. The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops asked the local bishop and the President of the Council of Bishops to file formal charges against Bishop Talbert.

    I understand, even though I don’t like, the action taken by the Council of Bishop’s Executive Committee. The Bishops are constantly reminded by the conservative wing of the church that they must “uphold the Discipline.”

    However, before anyone gets too excited about all of this, I’d invite all of us to stop, sit down, pray, and hope that before we have a hearing before the Western Jurisdiction Committee on Investigation, or go into a church trial, the affected persons could all sit down together in an effort to work out a Just Resolution.

    The Book of Discipline makes a church trial an action of the last resort; Just Resolutions are actions of the first resort. They can be entered into at any place in the process, up to the moment charges are handed to a Trial Court as they go into deliberation. Efforts at a Just Resolution should take place at every possible step.

    I’ve been the Defense Counsel in two church trials in my own Annual Conference (California-Pacific); trials which mercifully were 26 years apart. I’ve been there through the whole judicial process we have. From that experience, I can tell you the following:

    > Trials are ugly, messy, emotional events in which we know, from the moment a trial is convened, that there will be no winners. Rather, everyone involved will be losers in the process. It has nothing to do with the outcome. Rather, it has to do with what happens when we become litigious instead of relational; when we try to make the other side “look bad” instead of realizing the need of all of us for forgiveness; where in an effort to point out a respondent’s sinfulness, we can only become aware of our own sinfulness.

    > Two clergy are asked to play lawyer, often backed up by real lawyers who have trial experience, but are not allowed to speak. Those attorneys can’t help but wanting to interject themselves into the process, in the light of the inexperience of the Counsel for the Church and Counsel for the Defense.

    > In a “high profile” case like this, there will be a lot of attention paid to the event by the secular press. Those reporters are looking for controversy and scandal: It is such that sells newspapers and gets TV coverage that allows television stations to show a higher viewership and therefore be able to charge higher rates for advertising on their channel(s). They know nothing of our polity, or even care. They go for sound bites and visual controversy, and likely know even less about the Biblical Ideal of “Justice.” (Lest we forget, the Biblical ideal of Justice, is perhaps best explicated at Micah 6:6-8: Biblical Justice is not about tearing relationships apart, but about bringing both accuser and accused together and identifying the least possible action needed to make the Accuser AND the accused whole. It is about bringing both the accused and the accuser back into full relationship with the community of faith.)

    > When it is all over, a trial which ostensibly MAY be about behavior but in reality is about a faith vision, ultimately will solve nothing. Given where we have been in our judicial practice over issues of homosexuality, it has pretty well been established that the “going rate” of penalty is one year where the defendant is suspended from the exercise of his/her orders. Bishop Talbert is retired—he could easily refrain from exercising his orders for a year while writing and still causing lots of controversy.

    > Finally, church trials end up costing the church anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 or more. Haven’t we better uses to which those funds might be put to make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?

    Somehow, both irrationally and constantly for the last 40 years, the issue of homosexuality has been argued out at every level of the church. The conservative wing of the church seems to have made the issue one of its litmus tests to measure the level of “true Christianity.” The liberal wing of the church has seen this as a matter of human rights and whether the church is truly open to welcome ALL people as full participants into the worshipping community. Nothing has changed; nor it likely to be changed in the foreseeable future.

    What would happen if we decided to try for a “Just Resolution” that would uphold the Discipline, avoid a trial, and allow for true Biblical justice to occur? I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to see us try and see what happens when we are talking together, instead of against each other.

    • brentwhite Says:

      “The conservative wing of the church seems to have made the issue one of its litmus tests to measure the level of “true Christianity.” The liberal wing of the church has seen this as a matter of human rights and whether the church is truly open to welcome ALL people as full participants into the worshipping community.”

      Just to be clear: Conservative wing = bad. Liberal wing = good.

      Since I slept through polity class, I’ll have to take your word for most of this stuff. However, I’m pretty sure that whatever outcome you want, I want the opposite.


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