by Chris Ritter
Bishop Michael J. Coyner of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church has read the Organic Jurisdictional Solution Legislation and offered his comments. The Organic Jurisdictional Solution (OJS) was released on July 17 and calls for jurisdictions to be empowered to adapt some parts of the Book of Discipline (by 2/3 majority) and for annual conference to join whatever United Methodist jurisdiction they wish. Individual congregations and clergy would have greater freedom to affiliate with a new conference should the standards of their jurisdiction cause moral concern.
Some incorrectly assumed that Bishop Coyner, as a member of the Connectional Table, was preparied to throw his support behind the CT Plan to loosen the worldwide clergy standards and chargeable offenses for clergy related to human sexuality. He recently wrote a blog about one aspect of the plan, localized accountability, that he found admirable and some took this as an endorsement of the whole. Bishop Coyner says that while no one can predict what GC2016 will do, he does not believe the CT Plan will pass.
Bishop Coyner has given me permission to share his brief response to the Organic Jurisdictional Solution. He only asked that I make it clear that he is looking for solutions to keep the whole church together. He makes it his policy to avoid taking stands that would divide the church or limit his ability to minister to all. I would further note that this is a quick e-mail reply to me, not a prepared public statement on the part of the Bishop:
I have read the latest proposal and I think it continues to improve upon your earlier ones. I think allowing Jurisdictions to form and to name themselves avoids some of the negative labels (at least negative as perceived by one side or the other in this debate). I also think that keeping the choices for change of affiliation to once every 4 years is helpful.
It is still not easy to perceive how bishops will align themselves and how jurisdictions will have the best “fit” for themselves in terms of bishop. But those types of changes will just have to work out over time, I suppose.
I don’t have any particular edits or suggestions to offer. The plan is thoroughly written and prepared, so now it will be up to the General Conference to determine how to proceed. I hear that many Conferences and other groups may be putting forward their own plans, so it will be interesting to see how General Conference chooses to deal with all of them. There is a proposal out of West Ohio which, as I understand it, would create a kind of blue ribbon commission to deal with all of these issues over the next 4 years and bring a final plan to the 2020 GC. I am not sure the 2016 GC will want to put things on hold for four years. Even if they do go that direction, there are some serious questions to be answered during this time of being “on hold.”
So I clearly cannot predict what 2016 GC will do. I just hope something emerges to help the church move forward with our focus upon our mission – rather than just more rancor.
God bless you for your efforts.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner,
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church
“Making a Difference in Indiana … and around the World”
I certainly want to thank the bishop for reading the legislation, offering his response, and allowing me to share his words publicly. I appreciate episcopal leaders like Bishop Coyner who are working constructively on the future of the UMC.
There seems to be growing consensus that plans to loosen or universally localize the homosexuality debate will be rejected by General Conference. The Organic Jurisdictional Solution is a plan for amicable unity that allows for as many as five different approaches to human sexuality in the U.S. without changing our official position or causing any conference, church, or congregation to violate their conscience.
You can read the complete legislative packet for the Organic Jurisdictional Solution by clicking: Organic Solution Legislation 3.0.
This sounds to me like a plan for chaos.
Thanks for your comment, Martha. I feel it is more chaotic to have standards that are irregularly enforced at the whim of the various players involved. This plan, while not perfect, represents a comprehensive solution that puts everyone under a covenant to which they can be held accountable. Our current system is in great need of the right kind of disruption. Thanks for taking a look at the plan.
A view from the pew. I so appreciate your concern for the survival of the church but I can’t help but wonder if what you propose is the best way. General Conference is the only body designated to speak for the church and time and time again it has come up with the exact same answer to the question about same gender relationships; an answer that many in the church agree with and that reflects 2000 years of Christian understanding on the matter. Why should we accommodate those that are pitching a temper tantrum because they did not get their way? There are many of those that you are so diligently trying to make room for who have absolutely no concern for the health and survival of the church; they are interested in one thing and one thing only: their agenda.. When I first started delving into this issue, it did not take me long to realize that there are many on the pro side that I would not want to be in any organization with, much less church because they are some of the most arrogant, close-minded, intolerant people I have ever come across; it is a one way street for them: they demand respect for their views, but they feel absolutely no need to respect anybody else’s–I certainly would not want to sit on a committee with them.
And then there is the problem that they did not come to their conclusions through any deep theological examination…In fact, as someone recently pointed out, not one has ever specifically said “The Bible is wrong.” Furthermore, there are more moderate ones who openly state that they have no biblical grounds for what they believe. In short, they do not have a sound theological leg to stand on. And yet we must bend over backwards to accommodate their views!