"Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation," A Statement from President Lallene J. Rector
Dear Garrett-Evangelical Community,
I hope you have all enjoyed the holiday season including some time for rest and relaxation.
I write to let you know that a high-level mediation has occurred within The United Methodist Church (UMC) regarding our struggle with those portions in the Book of Discipline which prohibit both the ordination of LGBTQIA persons and United Methodist clergy from officiating over same-sex or same-gender marriages. Please see the news release from the UMC and articles from The Washington Post and The New York Times.
As noted above, the 2020 General Conference held in Minneapolis in May will now include legislation that seeks to accomplish the agreements signed by each of the 16-member group. If approved, this means The United Methodist Church, while becoming a smaller denomination would remain global and a strong denomination in this country. Our traditionalist brothers and sisters will be able to maintain integrity with their conscience on these matters by forming another Wesleyan denomination. Please see the PDF "Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation" which describes the agreement in greater detail.
I have been in contact with the Rev. Greg Bergquist, the General Secretary at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, to confirm that my interpretation of this announcement is a positive development for our schools, colleges, and theological schools. While some institutions have already disaffiliated with the UMC due to the legal risks of discrimination in their educational settings, the decision announced today will hopefully discourage other higher education institutions who have also been considering disaffiliation.
In this moment, I am reminded of Bishop Sally Dyck’s message to the Illinois Annual Conference Exploration Team’s first worship together. She talked with us about Jacob and Esau, a stolen birthright, and confrontation for many years when Jacob feared Esau would seek his death. Together they found a way to “bless” their differences. It was not altogether clear in that moment what the future would bring, but there had been reconciliation enough so that they could go their own ways without fear. After too many years of struggling and fighting over human sexuality, perhaps The United Methodist Church has found a way to bless its differences, to constructively dissolve our formal unity, and to do it in the spirit of grace and reconciliation.
There is more to say, but for now I simply wanted to make you aware of this momentous decision. Garrett-Evangelical remains committed to hospitable, inclusive welcome and to theological perspectives that will support the flourishing of all persons. This is good news for the continued strength of our future and our mission.
Blessings to you and your ministries,
Dr. Lallene J. Rector