The United Methodist Book of Discipline is our book of covenant. We covenant together around it as we seek to order our communal lives. Indeed, our clergy vow to uphold and maintain it, as well as agree that they will submit to its authority and the authority of the General Conference. In addition, the United Methodist Church is not a State church, but one of voluntary association. Should anyone decide that he or she can no longer abide by the shared covenant, as set forth in the actions of the General Conference, he or she is not constrained to remain. As we have written before, this crisis in the United Methodist Church over human sexuality began by disobedience to the Discipline coming from certain regions, with much from the Western Jurisdiction, and now that same Jurisdiction is seeking to undermine the connexion it has vowed to uphold and support.
After previously bemoaning the behavior of a small amount of conservative churches, who, prior to GC2019, escrowed or withheld apportionments, and saying these churches undermined the unity of the connexion, the Western Jurisdiction is now enabling this same behavior for its progressive churches. In an official communication from the episcopal leader, the bishop writes that the CFA of the California-Pacific Annual Conference will actually ASSIST the churches who seek to withhold money from the General Church. This region of the Church, which cannot sustain itself financially, is now seeking to put even more burden on the rest of the church to support vital ministry around the world. Generally, we have idiomatic expressions to describe this behavior: to cut off one's own nose to spite one's own face, and shooting one’s self in the foot.
Again, we reiterate our call to our brothers and sisters in the Western Jurisdiction and any other region of the church which has refused to submit to the decisions of the United Methodist Church in General Conference. If you can no longer submit to the Doctrine, Spirit and Discipline with which you first set out, please find a new expression of Methodism which might better express your desires in ministry. We do not seek to harm or keep anyone from fulfilling their call to ministry; however, in the United Methodist Church we live by a covenant set by our work in holy conferencing at the General Conference. This does not mean that we believe the UMC has a monopoly on the truth and or God’s Spirit, but it does mean that in light of Paul’s admonitions to submit to one another in love, we expect that spirit from one another as we order our common life together.