Council of Bishops issues statement concerning human sexuality

November 8, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and Peace to you!

Below is a statement that yesterday afternoon the Council of Bishops adopted, unanimously, regarding our ministry with all persons, regardless of sexual orientation:

As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people. We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we do so, we call on all United Methodists to pray for us and for one another.

This statement is offered to the United Methodist Church to affirm our vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We are mindful that many across the Church will disagree; some expecting more, others expecting less.

As a global church, we wrestle with language that does no harm-either in the United States or abroad. What we are clear about is that the mission of the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is our deepest call and commitment.

We acknowledge that differences and divisions exist within our denomination and across the Nashville Area. Therefore, we will prayerfully consider ways in which to open space for deeper conversation among one another with regard to our differences around our understanding of human sexuality.

Please continue to offer prayer for each other and for the bishops as we move toward General Conference 2016.

Serving Christ With You,
Bishop William T.  McAlilly
Resident Bishop

*For more information about this statement from the Council of Bishops, click here to read Nov. 7 story from the United Methodist News Service.

9 Comments on “Council of Bishops issues statement concerning human sexuality”

  1. Judi says:

    This statement needs to appear on the website. This may be a better format than the other. Up to you.

    Judi Hoffman, Pastor 615-406-3157


  2. Steve Tippens says:

    Questions I wish our bishops would answer:
    What is an acceptable level of disharmony within the ranks of United Methodism that will not further weaken its witness?
    Are we not in continuing decline today because we do not have the capacity as a Christian denomination to speak with one voice on issues of consequence to the human family? Beyond prayer for divine intervention, what must we do to enable our church to be in accord on such issues?
    Is a covenant between church leaders to protect the unity of the institution more sacred than pursuit of the church’s mission? More sacred than conscience? Is the undivided institution seen as requisite for effective mission?
    By what model do we determine that homosexual persons are ineligible for discipleship? If Jesus is our model, is this an appropriate determination? Is it related to our feelings about sex, something we both glorify and condemn, or about who qualifies as a child of God?
    Can the Bible be an agent of discord and be also of God?
    What do we fear?

  3. Steve Tippens says:

    These responses seem to be symptomatic of irreconcilable differences in understandings of how scripture addresses issues relating to human sexuality. Resolution of these differences through deepened conversation, as suggested by the bishop’s statement, seems wishful thinking at best. Cannot we not expend our energies more fruitfully for the furthering of the Kingdom? Unless institutional religion rethinks its role in society from that of a spokesperson for God and guardian of what it perceives as sacred – i.e., a humanly constructed covenant that supersedes conscience? – will it not eventually lose its soul its relevance, and its capacity for witness? What a sad outcome for an institution having unique potential as an agent of peace and harmony in human affairs. One step in this direction would be a recognition that human sexuality is a human issue, not a God issue. If the church has something to say about it, may it be from an understanding of God as creator, provider, sustainer, healer, lover, and not as dictator, rule maker, behavior monitor, and punisher, unbefitting the way of the Jesus I strive to follow. Though deeply painful, divorce sometimes serves the higher good and is the less damaging alternative. Perhaps when we’re able to see through the glass less darkly, Humpty-Dumpty can be reassembled. It’s happened before.

  4. victorgalipi says:

    Bishops, you would all be of one mind on human sexuality if you all had your minds on the clear word of God on this matter, instead of trying to be politically correct and have unity at any price. Please stop reinterpreting the Bible (2 Pet 1:20) and start teaching it faithfully, which is your calling as Bishops and in accordance with your ordination vows.

  5. Sharon H. Cox says:

    Interestingly as I read the line “open a space for deeper conversation” MLK’s famous line from prision came to mind…as it did for the person in the response above. I look forward to the day when after all the conversation we can simply agree that “all means all” and follow the greatest commandment in word and in deed.

  6. harris38104 says:

    While your statement says that you wrestle with language to “do no harm”, the inability to speak out for full inclusion for gay folks does otherwise. Many of us continue to feel excluded, not wanted, and pushed out by various aspects of the local and global UMC by hate-filled rhetoric along with the silence and indifference of leaders. To borrow from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.””

    • Litle Twin says:

      You do “harm” when you use your ability to “speak out”. The only time I hear things like “hate-filled rhetoric” is from someone who is calling for “full inclusion for gay folks”.and it seems that by that it is meant someone is saying they disagree with that position.
      To call what I say,no matter how I say it, “hate-filled rhetoric” is not likely to make me want to have a discussion .
      The bishops did say one thing that we should listen to is that we need to be in prayer for them and each other.

      • harris38104 says:

        I am sorry that you read “hate-filled rhetoric” as applying to anyone who disagrees with my view. (Really, I apologize… because I don’t want misunderstanding here to make the issue more complicated than it already is!) That is surely not the case. I engage in kind, thought-filled discussions with many who do not agree with me… but there still does exist mean-spirited language and unkind words. I read a lot of it, and I overhear much of it when people don’t think about being overheard. So, I honestly do not mean to imply that all difference of opinion is hate-filled – and I even think that most of it isn’t – however, I do firmly believe that until there are more voices calling for more love and compassion in working through this discussion about inclusion (and in my mind, justice) the more negative voices will continue doing harm. That was my intent, and I’m sorry you heard it differently. Peace.

    • Sarah Flynn says:

      Amen. Silence is consent to the exclusion o f. LGBT Methodists. The making of more disciples to continue these practices is a violation of the Kingdom which Jesus preached and died for. In the end this is more hypocrisy by those intent upon guarding the Temple than advancing the Kingdom. The transformation of which they speak must first begin with them…and it is yet to come about given how little risk they are willing to take for the sake of the Gospel.