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Reconciling Congregation Board Responds to Decision

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  • U.M. Cornet
    February 11, 2000 For Immediate Release Reconciling Congregation Board Responds to California-Nevada Conference Decision on “Sacramento 68” CHICAGO
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 12, 2000
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      February 11, 2000 For Immediate Release

      Reconciling Congregation Board Responds to
      California-Nevada Conference Decision on �Sacramento 68�

      CHICAGO (RCP) � At noon, February 11, it was announced that the
      Committee on Investigation for Clergy Members decided that the Judicial
      Complaint brought against Sacramento Service of Celebration participants was
      �not proper for trial.� This news was released in a statement by United
      Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, San Francisco Episcopal Area
      (California-Nevada Conference). Talbert noted portions of the Discipline
      that fundamentally spoke to an understanding of The United Methodist Church
      as a denomination whose �. . . ministry of service is a primary
      representation of God�s love� (Paragraph 303.2) and a commitment to the
      value of inclusiveness expressed in Paragraph 117 (see below for the
      complete text of Paragraph 117). Bishop Talbert was referencing the January
      16, 1999 Sacramento blessing of the relationship of Ellie Charlton and
      Jeanne Barnett. May 10, 1999 a complaint was filed against 68 United
      Methodist clergy of the California-Nevada Conference who participated in
      that service.

      The Board of the Reconciling Congregation Program, meeting at the
      national offices in Chicago, took significant time to respond to news
      that clergy participants in the Sacramento holy union of Ellie Charlton and
      Jeanne Barnett would not be forced to trial. �This is an example of the
      church working toward authentic inclusivity � the kind of inclusivity which
      is the central mission of the Reconciling Congregation Program,� was the
      reaction of Gayle Felton, Chair of the RC Board. �This decision is a sign of
      hope.�

      This ruling is positive in that it reflects the diversity within The
      United Methodist Church (UMC). The California-Nevada Conference of The UMC
      has a long history of inclusiveness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
      transgender people, dating back to 1964 when San Francisco clergy
      founded the Commission on Religion and Homosexuality. In 1985 their
      Annual Conference adopted a resolution commending the Reconciling
      Congregation Program to all churches and in 1987 they voted to become a
      Reconciling Conference.

      As much as the previous Nebraska ruling that defrocked Jimmy Creech is
      an interpretation of the UMC Discipline, this California-Nevada decision is
      equally of the church. Within the book of Discipline, there are
      contradictory statements on sexual orientation. These rulings highlight the
      conflict between recent language that restricts celebrations of �homosexual
      unions� and core statements that reflect our Wesleyan heritage and charge
      the whole church to be broadly inclusive. More . . .

      Though the RCP Board has not adopted a formal position on the blessing
      of same �gender relationships, they applauded the outcome and the
      process in which the members of the California-Nevada Conference
      participated � especially the civil and caring manner in which the range of
      theological and ministry concerns were offered in public hearing. The
      Reconciling Congregation Program, begun in 1984, is a network of United
      Methodist congregations, conferences, agencies, campus ministries and
      individuals providing guidance, education, to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual
      and transgender persons into full participation in the life of the church �
      both in policy and practice.

      Paragraph 117 of 1996 UMC Book of Discipline

      Section IX. Called to Inclusiveness

      We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a
      diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God�s
      grace to the unity of the Church and to society, we are called to be
      faithful to the example of Jesus� ministry to all persons.

      Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all
      persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the
      world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination.

      The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all person are open,
      welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons,
      enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the
      community, and the world. A further mark of inclusiveness is the
      setting of church activities in facilities accessible to persons with
      disabilities.

      In The United Methodist Church inclusiveness means the freedom for the
      total involvement of all persons who meet the requirements of The United
      Methodist Book of Discipline in the membership and leadership of the Church
      at any level and in every place.
      ______________________

      For additional information contact: Marilyn Alexander, Interim
      Executive Director, The Reconciling Congregation Program
      (marilyn@...). 3801 N. Keeler Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641. Phone
      (773) 736-5526, FAX (773) 736-5475.

      Detailed information regarding Reconciling Congregation plans for and
      activities at General Conference can be found at www.rcp.org.

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