March 27, 2001, Olympia, WA – A Pacific Northwest advocacy group of United Methodists today accused their denomination’s national lawmaking body of heresy for its anti-homosexual legislation.
The charge came from The Reconciling Ministries Network in the Pacific Northwest, a coalition of lay and clergy in Washington State and North Idaho, part of the national Reconciling Ministries Network, committed to welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons into full and equal participation in their denomination.
A spokesperson for the Pacific Northwest group, David Sutton, of Olympia, explained that, after ten months of study, the group has determined the General Conference’s legislation to be “unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus, inconsistent with Christian theology, inappropriate to United Methodist polity, and dysfunctional in our practice as Christian disciples.”
Sutton pointed out that many thousands of lesbians and gays are faithful, practicing Christians. “We believe that one’s sexual orientation is morally neutral,” he said, “and that homosexuality and Christianity are fully compatible.”
In its major policy document released today, the regional unit issued a sweeping denunciation of recent actions of the United Methodist General Conference’s anti-gay legislation. The General Conference, which sets the denomination’s rules of operation and positions of principle, last year tightened further its 30-year campaign against homosexuality.
It had earlier declared “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider its practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” The denomination also refuses ordinations of lesbian or gay persons as clergy, and prohibits the performing of same-gender unions, either by its clergy or in United Methodist churches.
The Reconciling Ministries Network of the Pacific Northwest is challenging all United Methodists to study the issues surrounding homosexuality in the light of the teachings of Jesus, those of the denomination’s founder, John Wesley, and the historic teachings of their United Methodist Book of Discipline.
The Reconciling Ministries Network of the Pacific Northwest took the historic action by adopting and releasing a detailed position paper titled, “To Plead the Cause.” It outlines nine misconceptions about homosexuality, which they claim led their General Conference “to theological heresy, moral sin and ecclesiastical apostasy.”
The paper urges United Methodists to debate the issues, to advocate for changing the church’s official position, and to welcome lesbians and gays, “looking to the day when Christ’s broken body may be reunited.”
The paper accuses the General Conference of three fundamental errors, based on nine common misconceptions about homosexuality. These led it to the theological heresy, moral sin and denominational apostasy of which it is accused today.