Accountability

I have to admit, I was mostly ambivalent about the ending of guaranteed appointments. Like I told Emma last night, I can see both sides of the idea of “missional appointment-making”. After the missional appointment making petition passed and was brought up for reconsideration yesterday, delegates spoke out about their fear that female and racial-ethnic clergy would be pushed out of the ministry through non-appointment leading to transitional leave. I chose to reserve judgment until we knew what would happen to the monitoring bodies in the General Church. I trusted that the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) and the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) would be able to hold cabinets and conferences accountable in not discriminating against clergy for any reason.

And then this morning we passed the planUMC petition, which did two things to suck the authority out of the monitoring agencies:

  1. GCORR and GCSRW were combined into one agency, the “Committee on Inclusiveness”, and placed organizationally UNDER the new body, the General Council on Strategy and Oversight
  2. The language governing annual conference CSRW and CORR bodies was changed from “shall” to “may”, meaning that annual conferences will not be required to appoint monitoring bodies.

Therefore, in the worst-case scenario, we could see a situation in an annual conference where women, minorities, or even just prophetic preachers who do not align with the theology of that cabinet could find themselves being put on involuntary transitional leave without cause or due discernment by the appointing cabinet.

So, what can we do?

In the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, I am not very worried. Not only do we have a really quality cabinet (Hi Mom! Hi Sharon!), but we are passionate about inclusivity, and we are likely to bring a petition to Annual Conference this year to write accountability guidelines into the conference rules, and to pass it with flying colors.

But we are worried about the rest of the connection.

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