I sat in stunned silence. Bishop Talbert has recommended to the western Jurisdiction bishops that they ignore the exclusionary language against "avowed and practicing homosexuals" in the discipline. For you non United Methodists, our church welcomes gay and lesbian people as members although the church discipline (church law) prohibits them from ordination, thus gays and lesbians are not allowed to serve as pastors of local churches. The key here is that Bishops appoint clergy to serve local churches and if the Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction agree to ignore the exclusion of clergy who express a same gender preference then my gay brother and sisters who wish to serve God as pastors may now have a home. A bishop who appoints an openly gay person as a pastor might be brought up on charges for violation of our Discipline. The charges would be received by our own, Western Jurisdiction Council of Bishops, the very same body that may likely say "ignore that disciplinary admonition." If those charges were brought against a bishop of the south central or south-eastern jurisdiction there would surely be censure and possibly removal from the episcopal office. Not in the western jurisdiction, not now.
How can the episcopal leaders of my jurisdiction do this? one might ask. Simple, The Discipline is treated as a guide for how United Methodists should order and rule themselves, but as I overheard one episcopal leader say "The Discipline does not supersede the all inclusive, loving nature of God an Christ." 'Nuff said!
I never thought this day would come anywhere in my lifetime. Full inclusion! 90% of those born after 1990 think arguing about full inclusion of gays and lesbians is bogus, a non issue. Non church people will cite the church's on going exclusionary practices as "off putting" and not Christ like. Ghandi said "I love your Jesus but I am not so sure about your Christians!" The best preacher I have ever heard was a lesbian woman who chose not to be ordained an elder because she couldn't continue to live a lie. Full inclusion to me means everybody, liberal, conservative, black, white, brown, rich, poor, tall and short, fat and skinny people all in the same church. Full inclusion means everybody and thankfully that includes you and me.