North Carolina UMC passes resolutions on legislature, LGBT issues

Dozen pastors start new jobs this month in district
Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:27 PM

United Methodists passed resolutions on homosexuality and the current North Carolina General Assembly session during the 2013 North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, June 12-15 in Greenville.

The resolution “Concerning the General Conference’s Decision Regarding Homosexuality” regards the denomination’s failure to change language or even “agree to disagree” on wording in the UMC’s social principles that say the church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” The issue was taken up at the General Conference in 2012 with no changes, and the conference will meet again in 2016. The N.C. Conference resolution will be sent to the General Conference, where it will join 15 other regional conferences that have rejected the denomination’s stance on homosexuality, according to the resolution. The resolution notes that Christianity has been described as “antihomosexual” and young adults have left the church because of it. The 61st Annual Conference Session of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship of the N.C. Conference of the UMC also said the language is harmful and alienating to groups and the future of the church.

The resolution passed last week implores the General Conference to change the language in the social principles and affirm the place of LGBT members within the church.

Rev. Donna Banks, district superintendent of the Corridor District of the North Carolina Conference of the UMC, which includes Durham, said the resolution carried by a substantial margin, but wasn’t unopposed.

“We think some wording needs to be changed,” she said, and the conference was willing to stand up and send the resolution to the General Conference.

“It’ll probably come up again over the years until the General Conference, and we’ll hear more,” Banks said.

The N.C. conference’s resolution “to the Governor and Legislative Leadership of the State of North Carolina” states that they are deeply disturbed by legislation introduced in the General Assembly that undercut social principles in the UMC Book of Discipline. The resolution urged the defeat or withdrawal of legislation on voter suppression, reducing the number of children eligible for subsidized pre-K, reducing teachers, eliminating class size, private school vouchers and denying Medicaid for 500,000 North Carolinians. A separate resolution also passed focused only on healthcare and the rejection of Medicaid.

Other resolutions passed at the conference were to support global maternal health and to show moral revulsion for the horrific injustices that emerged in the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

The conference, attended by clergy and laity, was the first with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward at the helm. Banks said Ward is a wonderful leader and it was an efficient and spiritually enlightening conference.

Banks is completing her first year as superintendent of the Corridor District, which was renamed and includes the old Durham District and Burlington District. Superintendents’ roles are as missional strategists, she said. The district includes Durham County, Orange County, part of Alamance County, Person County, Caswell County and a little of Granville County. The conference also solidified new church assignments in the district.

This month, pastors who have been reassigned move into new jobs. New full-time pastors at local congregations include Rev. Rani Woodrow at Carrboro UMC, Rev. Gloria Harris at Duke’s Chapel UMC in Durham, Rev. Kristen Williams at Fletcher’s Chapel UMC in Durham, Rev. Jesse Brunson at Pleasant Green UMC in Durham, and Rev. Albert Shuler at New Creation in Durham.

Other pastors taking new pulpits include Rev. Benjamin Sims at Grace-CaVell UMC in Person County, Rev. Johnnie Wright at Mebane UMC, Rev. Casey Mursten at Oak Grove UMC in Roxboro, Rev. David Allen at Concord UMC in Graham, and Rev. Anne Sims at Orange Grove UMC in Roxboro. Rev. Gregory Belting will become full-time associate pastor at University UMC in Chapel Hill. A new church in Southern Durham, called Epiphany UMC, will be led by Rev. Shay Hall.

For more information on the conference, visit http://nccumc.org.