Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! I hope all is well in your life and ministry. I am praying for each of you as we draw close to the Advent season.
Every bishop has been encouraged to share about our recent Council of Bishops (COB) meeting held in North Carolina at the United Methodist Conference and Retreat Center at Lake Junaluska. At the meeting, the COB received a request from a group called, “Mainstream.” The letter from Mainstream contained a request asking the COB to “call for a moratorium on all complaints, charges and trials until the 2020 General Conference.
In addition to this request, the COB received a statement from the Western Jurisdiction announcing their intention to set aside complaints against clergy accused of being gay or performing LGBTQIA+ weddings, and they urged others to join them in setting aside complaints.
The COB discussed both of these items, and while the COB did not endorse or approve any action regarding either request, bishops were reminded that we are called to live and model the three general rules (as modified and articulated by the late Bishop Reuben Job); “Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.”
As your resident bishop, I intend to lead us in the spirit and direction of those general rules. It is my desire to avoid engaging in trials of any kind. My position is always to seek a “just resolution” for all involved in issues of conflict or disruption. I do not want to engage in trials of any kind as they often serve as a negative witness for Christians and are excessive in the cost, both spiritually and financially.
I want to remind us all that bishops do not determine if there will be trials. Trials are based on the reporting work and recommendation of the Committee on Investigation. Allegations and charges come from clergy and laity, not from bishops.
In this season of challenges and uncertainty regarding the future of The United Methodist Church, I encourage each of us to be patient and loving with one another as we do our best to allow Jesus Christ to shine in and through us.
I believe God is reshaping and remaking The United Methodist Church. Let us do our part by continuing to pray, remain open to the fact that we may not have all of the answers yet, and listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance and further direction.
Robert D. Farr