|Bishop Ken Carter|
I want to introduce a statement adopted by the United Methodist Council of Bishops, meeting on Nov. 11-15, 2013, at Lake Junaluska, N.C. This statement arises out of discernment and prayer, in response to the actions of retired Bishop Mel Talbert in the residential area of Bishop Debbie Wallace-Padgett. I am appreciative of this statement, which is available by clicking here.
As a document shaped by all of the United Methodist bishops from throughout the world, with widely differing languages, cultures, histories and theological perspectives, it includes the following:
1. An acknowledgement of our dependence on God and our need for prayer.
2. A recognition that United Methodists are not of one mind on the subject of human sexuality, and that there are deep divisions among Christians who read scripture in different ways and whose conscience moves them to opposing convictions.
3. A direct response to the action of Bishop Talbert of undermining the ministry of another elder, which was in violation of the 2012 Book of Discipline.
4. A commitment to lead honest and respectful conversations around human sexuality, race and gender in light of our theological convictions for the sake of our mission.
I ask you to note three facets of this development:
1. The General Conference, not the Council of Bishops, speaks for The United Methodist Church.
2. The Council of Bishops does not hold an individual bishop accountable; this practice is given by the General Conference to the (jurisdictional) College of Bishops and Committees on the Episcopacy.
3. The response of the bishops is a reflection on two subjects: the violation of the discipline by a member of the clergy, and the ongoing struggle of the church with our ministry with gay and lesbian persons. For my recent teaching on this latter subject, click here.
As the resident bishop of the Florida Conference, I take seriously the calling to be a shepherd to the clergy and laity of our region. I am aware that there are deep divisions among us on this subject. And so I welcome your correspondence and I depend upon your prayers.
Resident Bishop, Florida Area
United Methodist Church
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