Dean Moore’s Response to UMC General Conference Outcome
I write with a heavy heart at the close of the General Conference 2019. The United Methodist Church voted in the closing hours of the Special Session of the General Conference to adopt the Traditional Plan as the way forward for the denomination. The vote of 438 (Yes) to 384 (No) was a stark and painful mark of deep divisions within the Church and institutionalized rejection of the full inclusion of LGBTQIA peoples.
The Traditional Plan was the only plan before the Church that left no space for the ordination and marriage of LGBTQIA people and very little space for people who hold diverse views on LGBTQIA full inclusion, The plan is accompanied by an intensified enforcement of the restrictive language that is already in The Book of Discipline, thus closing spaces within the denomination for people who cannot in good conscience exclude the LGBTQIA community from full participation in ministry and the blessings of marriage. The result will likely be a considerable escalation of church trials and stronger consequences for persons who act counter to The Book of Discipline as a matter of conscience.
The Church also voted in favor of two dis-affiliation plans that are designed to allow churches to remove themselves from the denomination if they cannot remain in good conscience. The decisions made by the General Conference have been referred to the Judicial Council to rule on Constitutionality, and the results of the Judicial Council decisions will shape the enactment of the plan. It may also identify parts of the plan and the petitions as unconstitutional.
The Boston University School of Theology will continue to hold our statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion as our standard for a fully inclusive community. We are committed to build a future in which we enact our ideals with full commitment, honest critique of ourselves, and prophetic witness. We will continue to seek justice and compassion for all people – people who are LGBTQIA, people of diverse races and ethnicities, people who hold diverse theological commitments, people from all countries and regions, and ALL of God’s people! We commit ourselves to do justice and work for full diversity, equity, and inclusions in the church and society. We are not perfect, but we will continue to grow in our capacity to be the School of the Prophets – a vision that has guided our 180 years of existence and will continue to shape us.
I close with respect for all of you, whose views are as diverse as the stars. I close with determination to find a better way forward that does not deny the sacred worth or full inclusion of any of you or any part of the human family. I do this in full awareness of my own shortfalls and my deepest hope to live into the Wesleyan vision of growing always in love.
– Mary Elizabeth Moore, Dean and Professor of Theology and Education