A Just Resolution has been achieved to the complaint filed by the Appointive Cabinet against Rev. Anna Blaedel. All involved have agreed to issue a “statement of invitation to the clergy and laity of the Iowa Annual Conference, as well as the broader United Methodist Church,” expressing the “desire to be of one heart…[to] strive to live lives marked by faithfulness and integrity, and to seek to build a more just and loving church and world.”
Rev. Blaedel was cited for conducting a same-gender wedding on April 1, 2017. The “supervisory response was pastoral and administrative,” according to the statement. Together they arrived at a Just Resolution, which “focuses on repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right in so far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties.” (Book of Discipline
, Paragraph 2701.5)
Click here to read the complete Statement.
“Convinced that the voices of all those involved in this just resolution need to be heard, including voices from the LGBTQ community” the statement continues, “we invite the Iowa Annual Conference and The United Methodist Church to join us in the prayerful dialogue we have and the commitments that we have made to each other in this just resolution process.”
The statement includes a recognition of diverse perspectives as well as a common hope. “Just as our denomination is not of one mind around issues of human sexuality, so members of the appointive cabinet and Rev. Anna Blaedel are not of one mind. However, we desire to be of one heart as we share our hopes and dreams for The United Methodist Church, strive to live lives marked by faithfulness and integrity, and seek to build a more just and loving church and world.”
Rev. Tyler Schwaller joined the dialogue with the Appointive Cabinet as Rev. Blaedel’s support person.
The Just Resolution has eleven points, which include, in part: an invitation to “deep prayers and discernment;” a recognition of the urgency that LGBTQ persons “await and need a word of welcome, affirmation, celebration, belonging, and grace from the church and its leaders;” a commitment to facilitate and support the work of the Commission on a Way Forward;
affirming the sacred worth gifts, graces, and honor the lives and loves of LGBTQ people; a call “to refrain from officiating at same-gender weddings while the Commission
is doing its work;” a lament of “the realities of injustice, fear, and isolation that harm our covenant with one another;” a desire to avoid further Cabinet or Conference-initiated complaints and trials “regarding United Methodist Clergy officiating [at] same-gender weddings until the work of the Commission on a Way Forward
is completed and acted upon by the General Conference in 2019;” and moving toward intentional action leading to “reconciliation and repair.”
The Just Resolution also issues a call for clergy and congregations “to be faithful to apportionment-giving, acknowledging that withholding apportionments as a sign of protest also harms our covenant and puts at risk countless ministries around the world; urging the church “to center and prioritize ministries with and for young people, people on the margins;” and an affirmation by the Appointive Cabinet of the “presence, faith, and deep commitment of untold LGBTQ persons in congregations around the United Methodist connection.
Closing Statement from Bishop Laurie Haller
At the conclusion of the document Bishop Laurie Haller expressed thanks for all who were involved in achieving the Just Resolution. “We believe that it is time,” the Bishop writes, “to take a new approach to our impasse around human sexuality.” Citing two of his sermons, Bishop Haller cites John Wesley’s invitation “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike. May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?” Wesley provide a precise, clear answer to his questions. “Without all doubt, we may.” (Catholic Spirit
In this “new approach,” Bishop Haller suggests, “we are seeking another way. We confess that judging, condemning, or trying to change one another not only does not work, but it does not model the unconditional grace of Jesus Christ for all or create an environment allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us.”
The Just Resolution, Bishop Haller believes, “gives voice to our differences,” and further “it witnesses to the example of Jesus that Christian unity is not a state of being or doing where we all become the same.” All the participants in the Just Resolution acknowledge “that we are not of one mind around how we interpret scripture.”
Noting that there are differing perspectives on the current Book of Discipline
, the participants in the Just Resolution “are eager…to continue the journey of listening to and learning from each other…[and] are committed to remaining connected in the spirit of love.”
Everyone involved in achieving the Just Resolution have made a “covenant to stay connected with each other and work for justice, reconciliation, and hope in our own communities as well as around the world.”
A Call to the Church
The Just Resolution is also a call to the United Methodist Church “to courageously and faithfully live into our shared belonging to God and our connection all belonging to one another.” Bishop Haller writes, “Through honest and challenging conversation, study, action and witness,” Bishop Haller suggests there is the potential for “Boldly proclaiming the expansive love and saving grace of the God who creates, calls, and claims us is both a pastoral and prophetic act.” She concludes, “We remain convicted that faithfully and honestly living into these challenges opens us to God’s unimaginable grace, deepens our faithfulness as followers of Jesus, and strengthens the faithful witness of The United Methodist Church.”