Saturday, April 28, 2012

Guaranteed Appointments and the LGBT question

I am not saying what exactly I support because frankly I don’t really know.  There are three things that have been capturing my attention this GC – guaranteed appointments, disposing of commissioning (personally invested in this one) and the ordination of LGBT.   Two of these logically go together – guaranteed appointments and ordination of all people.

I understand that guaranteed appointments have been around for half a century and that they were instituted so that women clergy would have a fair chance.  You see 50 years ago we were not debating if LGBT people would be ordained but if women could be ordained. 

So, let’s use a little logic here.  IF we dispose of guaranteed appointments and IF the ministry of LGBT is affirmed, what will be in place that the LGBT clergy get a fair chance?

So I say that these legislations go hand in hand.  I don’t think things will change horribly for me – personally.  I’m not going to say that I’m “in like Flynn” but I also think that I’m effectual and doing a decent job.  What disposing of guaranteed appointments will do for me personally?  I may not be able to be as outspoken about politically charged issues as I would like. Among other things.

However, I think that disposing of guaranteed appointments will do BIG things when it comes around to LGBT clergy being able to feel any sort of job security.

From an article on

In 1989, the Rev. Robert Kohler, then staff for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, presented a paper to the Commission for the Study of Ministry in which he pointed out that on this topic “one finds a very short legislative history and a very long oral tradition.”
Kohler refers to “The Minister in the Itinerant System” by Bishop Thomas B. Neely, published in 1914.  Bishop Neely wrote that in his time the system promises “that the preacher shall be provided with a pastoral charge…(and)…that, if he does faithful and successful work, he need not be concerned about his next appointment, for the appointing power will concern itself about that.”
The 1912 Discipline spelled out how conference membership could be terminated, and these included judicial procedures (Paragraphs 243-260).  The 1956 Discipline was clear that, "Every traveling preacher, unless retired, supernumerary, on sabbatical leave, or under arrest of character, must receive an appointment." (Paragraph 432.9)  The 2008 Discipline states, "All elders in full connection who are in good standing in annual conference shall be continued under appointment by the bishop unless…." (Paragraph 337).
The language of Bishop Neely in 1914 is most interesting: “Back of the system, therefore, is the whole Church, self-obligated – sworn, so to speak, to conform to and to uphold this system of pastoral assignment. It is a contract between the laity and the ministry.” In other words, the bishop sends, the clergy go without reserve, and the laity receives. Break any link and the itinerancy is in jeopardy.

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