Great Plains Conference approves 'aspirational resolution' involving Meyer case
TOPEKA, Kansas - An “aspirational resolution” asking that the decision about the future of an openly gay United Methodist pastor in Kansas be left to the Great Plains Conference bishop was approved Saturday morning during the annual conference session.
The Rev. Russell Brown, pastor of Heritage UMC in Overland Park, Kansas, introduced the motion. Brown said the motion was not an attempt to rewrite the Book of Discipline, was not an attack on the bishop, was not a directive to Bishop Scott J. Jones nor a committee and was not binding by the bishop nor committee.
“It is an aspirational resolution,” Brown said. “If I had to give it a nickname, it would be the ‘Please pump the brakes’ resolution.”
The resolution asks that the counsel for the Church and the counsel for Rev. Meyer invoke Book of Discipline paragraph 2706.5c3. That paragraph allows for such a matter as the Meyer case to be referred to the resident bishop “as deemed appropriate for a process seeking a just resolution.”
The bishop could seek assistance from impartial third-party facilitators or mediators under such circumstances.
“Let’s walk through that window,” Brown said. “It’s seeking to speak as a unified voice for the Great Plains Annual Conference.”
On Jan. 3, the Rev. Cynthia Meyer told her congregation at Edgerton United Methodist Church in Kansas that she was in a committed relationship with another woman. Bishop Jones referred the complaint against Jones to a counsel for the church, pending any changes in the Book of Discipline reached at General Conference.
Jones has not publicly expressed an opinion regarding the Meyer case.
“I have, ever since the complaint was filed, done everything I can to bring a just resolution to this case,” Jones told the annual conference session. “This (resolution) isn’t much of a change – it’s been going on all along.”
An array of opinions filled the floor, from a young adult who threatened to leave the denomination over LGBTQ issues to a laity delegate who accused the body of trying to “rewrite the Bible.”
The Rev. David Livingston, pastor of St. Paul’s UMC in Lenexa, Kansas, and an advocate of Meyer, said he was pleased with the results of the vote.
“It affirms the idea from the Council of Bishops that we can uphold the spirit with the space for grace and conversation,” he said.