Judicial Council Decisions

The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church has announced its decisions on the the Beth Stroud & Ed Johnson cases. In the first case, the findings of the original trial court – that Beth Stroud as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” could be removed from ordained ministry – were affirmed. In the second, the decision of Bishop Kammerer to suspend Rev. Ed Johnson was reversed. The root cause of his case was a refusal to take into membership an allegedly unrepentant homosexual. Both of these cases are getting lots of publicity. I haven’t seen any comments on Decision 1020, however.

Decision 1020 is about the California Nevada Annual Conference’s inclusion of two items in their proceedings:

Item 26: The California-Nevada Annual Conference hereby defines the word “status” as including sexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered.

Item 27: The California-Nevada Annual Conference hereby specifically refuses and declines to define the word “practicing” or Practicing homosexual.”

The Cal-Nev AC doesn’t approve of the denominational position regarding the exclusion of self-avowed practicing homosexuals from ordained ministry. This looks like a strategy to allow them to retain the Discipline while acting in accord with their conscience. A member of the conference raised the question about whether Item 27 made ¶ 304.3 unenforceable. Bishop Shamana ruled that the Items were in keeping with the Discipline, and thus acceptable. On appeal, the Judicial Council has approved the Bishop’s ruling.

Now I understand the Council’s ruling, but I don’t understand their statement (the part I’ve put in bold):

Question 3 concerns the annual conference’s refusal to define the word “practicing” or “practicing homosexual.” An annual conference may not adopt any item that purports to void and/or violate the enforcement or enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the Discipline. Refusal to define has no effect on the enforceability of ¶304.3. The Bishop’s decision of law for Question 3 is affirmed.

How does “refusal to define” not have any effect on enforceability? How can an undefined condition be enforced? Someone help me out here. Also – am I wrong to assume that the Cal-Nev Conference was trying to make the statute unenforceable?

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2 Responses to Judicial Council Decisions

  1. That’s the way I read it, too.

  2. John says:

    Hi Richard. This comment doesn’t actually have anything to do with this post, but I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you.

    I’d like to write the next Methodist Blogger Profile about you. If you’re interested, please e-mail locustsandhoney2005@yahoo.com

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