Calls for unity are popular among United Methodists, and yet there is much that tears the fabric of unity and evidences how divided we are as a church. Recent events in the West Ohio Annual Conference underscore the fragile nature of our unity.
The Reverend David Meredith, an elder in the West Ohio Annual Conference, was under charges as a result of his marriage to another man, a marriage which was celebrated in a United Methodist Church. These facts are not disputed. Our Discipline requires our pastors be celibate in singleness and faithful in heterosexual marriage. Our Discipline further prohibits our pastors conducting ceremonies celebrating homosexual unions or celebrating them in our churches. The Judicial Council, our denomination’s Supreme Court, has held that a clergyperson’s marriage to a person of the same gender constitutes self-avowal of the practice of homosexuality.
On Wednesday, October 18, a committee on investigation in the West Ohio Annual Conference failed to certify charges against Meredith of “immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in heterosexual marriage,” and “practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” The refusal to certify the charges was not because there was no evidence to support the charges. The refusal to certify occurred because the committee on investigation refused to apply the provisions of our Discipline to the facts of Meredith’s conduct.
The Wesleyan Covenant Association remains committed to the established doctrine and order of The United Methodist Church. We continue to urge those responsible for the faithful teaching and administration of the doctrine and order adopted by our General Conference to fulfill their vows and responsibilities. We continue to pray for the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops and the delegates to the 2019 special General Conference to adopt a plan that will restore order to our denomination and maintain the integrity of beliefs and principles expressed in our Discipline, duly adopted and repeatedly reaffirmed by delegates representing the global church.
The WCA remains engaged in the process seeking God’s best for The United Methodist Church which will culminate in the 2019 special General Conference. We are under no illusion that this process will be simple and it may not be successful. Whatever the case, we are preparing for a faithful and fruitful future for United Methodists who are committed to the advancement of the historic Christian faith in the Wesleyan tradition.