Jurisdiction passes measure to empower LGBTQIA+ persons

David Burke


The South Central Jurisdiction overwhelmingly approved three resolutions Thursday morning, including asking those who are considering leaving the denomination to step back from church leadership roles, showing support for regional conferences, and giving justice and empowerment to United Methodists who are LGBTQIA+.

Jesi Lipp presents a resolution meant to empower LGBTQIA+ persons in local churches and throughout the United Methodist connection Thursday during the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in Housto
The LGBTQIA+ measure was quickly countered with a request for a bishop’s declaration of law, questioning whether the resolution should rather be taken up by the General Conference.

Jesi Lipp, a lay delegate from the Great Plains Conference, introduced the resolution and was one of three queer-identifying delegates who presented were signed on as presenters of the resolution.

“Too many of us are still not seen. Either because our gifts and graces are deliberately denied, or because our identities themselves are pushed aside and ignored,” Lipp said. “The complexity and fullness of who we are is deemed to be too much — too dangerous, too complicated, too distracting.

“And so we are told that if we want to lead, we cannot shine with the light of who we are, but instead to shroud our personhood and smother our souls,” they added.

After the resolution passed 128-35, another Great Plains lay delegate, Dixie Brewster, asked for a bishop’s decision of law about the measure. Brewster, who described herself as a “traditional, conservative, orthodox evangelical,” challenged the 2016 election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, a lesbian elected in the Western Jurisdiction and later assigned to the Mountain Sky Conference.

“I caught much flak for that,” Brewster said.

Louisiana Bishop Cynthia Harvey, who presided over the Thursday morning session, said the bishops would respond to the request for decision in the next 30 days, which is the time frame spelled out in the Book of Discipline.

Resolutions such as the three passed by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference delegates are aspirational in nature. They are meant to encourage actions by local congregations or others addressed by such legislation. Only petitions are passed on to the General Conference for consideration as changes in the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist book of law and polity.

Also approved Thursday morning was a resolution asking all delegates with intentions to leave the denomination to recuse themselves from church leadership and as delegates. It passed 138-30.

Passing by a 140-24 vote was a resolution supporting the creation of a U.S. regional conference and creating similar regional conferences in the current Central Conference system. The resolution is similar to the plan spelled out in the Christmas Covenant provided by Central Conference bishops. One aim of the resolution is to allow for less time to be spent during General Conferences dealing with matters germane to the United States alone.
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at dburke@greatplainsumc.org.

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