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Complaint Against UMC Clergywoman in Same-Sex Relationship Moves Forward

Complaint Against UMC Clergywoman in Same-Sex Relationship Moves Forward

Dozens of demonstrators demanding a more inclusive church hold vigil at the edge of the May 3 session of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. | (Photo: UMNS/Paul Jeffrey)

A complaint against a United Methodist Church clergywoman who recently admitted to being involved in a same-sex relationship will move forward.

According to the UMC's Book of Discipline, ordained clergy cannot be involved in a same-sex relationship or marriage, even in places where such unions have legal recognition.

A complaint filed against the Rev. Cynthia Meyer of Edgerton United Methodist Church in Kansas will proceed after a failed negotiation between her and the Great Plains Conference.

Bishop Scott J. Jones, head of the conference, spoke to The Christian Post about the status of the formal complaint against Meyer.

"There's a period called a supervisory response that aims at a just resolution. We did not agree on a just resolution and so the complaint has been referred to a counsel for the church," said Jones.

Bishop Scott Jones, head of the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. | (Photo: Great Plains Conference)

"He is preparing a judicial complaint that will go to a committee on investigation. The date for that meeting of the committee on investigation has not been set, but will be several weeks away. The committee on investigation will then decide if the case should be referred for trial or not."

Jones also told CP that one of the options for a resolution to the dispute would be for the congregation to leave the UMC; a move that Jones opposes.

"That was one of the options that exist in the Book of Discipline and part of what I offered to her was to make the Edgerton congregation aware of that possibility," continued Jones.

"I do not seek to have any church leave the denomination, but as a way of offering part of a resolution, I would be willing to let them know about that option."

Unlike other Mainline Protestant denominations, the UMC officially states that homosexuality is sinful and bars clergy from being involved in same-sex relationships.

"The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexual are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church," reads the UMC Book of Discipline.

"'Self-avowed practicing homosexual' is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual."

In a sermon preached on the first Sunday in January, Meyer told her congregation at Edgerton that she was in a relationship with a woman and wanted to remain an ordained clergy.

"On Epiphany Sunday, I stood before one tiny congregation and declared, 'I will not live in the darkness.' And now, I will not surrender my credentials or accept as 'Just Resolution' an unjust list of demands and contingencies," said Meyer.

"I will not ask that faithful congregation to leave the denomination it has lovingly served for decades. I will, instead, continue to follow the light of love, justice and full inclusion for all."

The case comes as the denomination readies for its General Conference, scheduled to be held in May in Portland, Oregon.

The UMC's position on homosexuality is expected to be debated, with resolutions sent to the delegates that seek to amend the Book of Discipline's official positions.

"There are proposals before it to change the Church's laws. One of the proposals would allow self-avowed practicing homosexuals to be appointed to serve as pastors in our churches," explained Jones.

"If the General Conference adopts that, then Cynthia Meyer's situation will change. If the General Conference doesn't change the rule, then the complaint will go forward."

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