THE EARTH CRIES OUT! WILL WE ACT NOW?

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OUR PLANET CRIES OUT! WILL WE ACT NOW?

 The following article excerpt (italics and bold are by me) is not easy to read,  but I believe it tells the truth. Because I care deeply about my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and, in fact, about all of the earth’s inhabitants (humans, plants and animals), I feel compelled to continue speaking unpopular truth as I understand it. A deacon’s role is to build bridges and to advocate for those without a voice and that is what I must do! 

We taught in Bangalore, India for six weeks during the time of the Kyoto Climate Summit (you may remember, the U.S. did not participate) in the spring of 2007. There was a two inch high, bold, black headline in the Bangalore newspaper that said; “EIGHT YEARS TO SAVE THE PLANET.” Already, deforestation, water shortages and other abnormal weather patterns and events were causing serious disruption in that highly populated country. 

The blatant reality is that the poor around the world are already paying a hugh price for our impending social collapse. How can we continue to tolerate CEO salaries in the United States that are 425 times higher than the average employee in their company? How can we as citizens of the richest and most developed nation in the world (or so we are told) accept an infant mortality rate that ranks us in 34th place (UN Population Division: 2005-2010) among the world’s nations? How can we continue to compromise our water and air quality by refusing to deal responsibly with fracking, and with drilling and transporting fossil fuels? How can we continue to invest so little in rail transportation when we know that is the most ecologically responsible way to transport goods and people? How can we tolerate !% of our population  increasing its income by 400% between 1979 and 2005 while the income for the middle of the income distribution rose only 21% (according toPaul Krugman in a New York Times oped which cites a 2005 Congressional Budget Office report.)?

 I could go on, but you get the picture. The collapse of institutions and cultures is not pretty. I believe, along with many scientists, economists and other thoughtful folks, that this perhaps immanent (and I don’t know how many decades this may take, but If we don’t take drastic action, I do not believe it will be centuries away) collapse of civilization is fast approaching. Please, read this article:

 

NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It’s Not Looking Good for Us

 The report, written by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National SocioEnvironmental Synthesis Center along with a team of natural and social scientists, explains that modern civilization is doomed. And there’s not just one particular group to blame, but the entire fundamental structure and nature of our society. [To learn more about the NS-ESC go to: http://www.sesync.org/about]

Analyzing five risk factors for societal collapse (population, climate, water, agriculture and energy), the report says that the sudden downfall of complicated societal structures can follow when these factors converge to form two important criteria. Motesharrei’s report says that all societal collapses over the past 5,000 years have involved both “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor].” This “Elite” population restricts the flow of resources accessible to the “Masses”, accumulating a surplus for themselves that is high enough to strain natural resources. Eventually this situation will inevitably result in the destruction of society.

Elite power, the report suggests, will buffer “detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners,” allowing the privileged to “continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe.”

 

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Charges against Bishop Melvin Talbert, Prophet and Faithful Minister of the Gospel

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I am trusting that the Western Jurisdiction will be faithful to those parts of The Book of Discipline and the baptismal vows that every baptized United Methodist makes to “resist evil wherever it is found.” There seems to be no way to avoid bringing these charges but there are good ways to bring about a just and Gospel-mandated resolution to such charges. My prayer is that inclusion and compassion and love for ALL God’s children will be the outcome!

 

Formal complaints filed against Bishop Talbert

March 13, 2014 By  5 Comments

Bishop Melvin Tablert

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert

DENVER – Complaints have been filed against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert alleging he has violated the sacred trust of his office.  Acting in accordance with United Methodist church law, a supervisory response has been initiated by Bishop Elaine Stanovsky of Denver.

The Council of Bishops requested that complaints be filed against Bishop Talbert, of Nashville, Tenn., after he performed an October wedding for two men in Alabama.  The bishop of the region, Debra Wallace-Padgett, had asked him not to perform the ceremony.  The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops also made this request.

Bishop Stanovsky, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, has been assigned to guide the confidential supervisory process according to the provisions of the Church’s Book of Discipline.  Bishop Talbert is a member of the Western Jurisdiction, where he served before his retirement in 2000. Church law requires that complaints against bishops be heard in the jurisdiction where the bishop is a member.

The supervisory response is a review of the bishop’s ministry which “shall be directed toward a just resolution” of the complaint.  The supervisory team consists of two bishops working in consultation with one clergy and one lay member of the jurisdictional committee on episcopacy.

The supervisory team carefully maintains the confidentiality of the supervisory response, as guided by the Book of Discipline.  “We find that confidentiality protects the integrity of the process and provides the best hope of the parties reaching a just resolution and offering healing to the Church,” Bishop Stanovsky said.  “We need the whole Church to respect the supervisory process and uphold it in prayer.  Everyone involved takes their role very seriously and is working for a just, healing and faithful outcome.”

For relevant positions of The United Methodist Church go to:
http://www.rmcumc.org/new/component/content/article/425.html
http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-is-the-denominations-position-on-homosexuality1
http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/para-363-complaint-procedures
http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/para-413-complaints-against-bishops 

UMReporter Staff

 

The Struggle Continues

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Bishop’s office offers clarifications on Ogletree Case

March 12, 2014 By 

Rev. Robert Walker

Rev. Robert Walker

WHITE PLAINS, NY — The Rev. Robert Walker, assistant to Bishop Martin D. McLee of the New York Area, issued the following statement today as a means of providing clarification to what he characterized as “inaccurate reporting” regarding the resolution of the charges filed against Dr. Thomas Ogletree:

There has been some confusion and inaccurate reporting following the March 10 press conference announcing the Just Resolution in the case of Dr. Thomas Ogletree.  The following will hopefully clarify the terms and outcome of the Just Resolution in the case of Dr. Ogletree.

First, the charges against Dr. Ogletree were not “dropped.” Rather they were “resolved” by a just resolution process as outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. The judge of the court, Bishop Clifton Ives, accepted the agreement between the Church and Dr. Ogletree as provided by United Methodist law.

Secondly, this Just Resolution applies to this case only and not to all present or future cases. The Statement by Bishop McLee seeks a new way forward by calling for a non-juridical process for resolving complaints against those performing same-gender weddings in favor of “theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation.” This does not equate to a blanket dismissal-in-advance of every complaint filed against those performing same-gender weddings.

Thirdly, every Bishop is bound by the United Methodist Book of Discipline to follow the complaint process, which has a clear preference for just resolution over church trials. Bishop McLee will continue to follow the “Administrative Fair Process” as described in Paragraph 363 in the Book of Discipline which outlines the steps of the complaint process, just as he did in the Ogletree case.

We continue to pray as this journey toward what some describe as “a better United Methodist Church” continues.

Ogletree was accused of performing the same-sex wedding of his son, which is prohibited by the United Methodist Book of Discipline. 

Rev. Walker can be reached for futher information

A Positive Response on Homosexuality and Marriage

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Perhaps the United Methodist Church is beginning a new way of dealing with the terrible pain and and the spiritual conflict that arises because of The Discipline’s statement that UM clergy cannot perform marriages for GLBTQ persons. Those of us who believe that being faithful to our baptismal vows to “reject all that is evil, repent of your sin, and accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” [The United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 100 [The Baptismal Covenant II-A] leaves us no choice but to choose to live our baptismal vow by not discriminating against any of God’s children who are seekfing to covenant together in holy marriage.

Church trials were never intended to bring charges against clergy for performing the sacraments and rites of our church. That some bishops are now speaking out against such trials may move us toward a more compassionate way of dealing with the deep disagreements about homosexuality and marriage that exist in our society and in our church. I pray it may be so!

I am equally committed to the right of all persons called to be pastors and deacons in our church to be judged on the basis of their gifts and graces, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I pray, too, that we will allow boards of ministry to do their work without discriminating on any basis.

See this press release below:

Terms of a Just Resolution in the Matter of The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree

3/10/2014

 

Preface

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Warren Ogletree presided over the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, to Nicholas Haddad on Oct. 20, 2012. The service took place at the Yale Club in New York City. Subsequently, The Rev. Randall C. Paige, pastor of Christ Church in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., and the Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen, a retired pastor in the New York Annual Conference, filed a complaint against Rev. Ogletree after his son’s wedding announcement appeared on Oct. 21, 2012, in The New York Times. The complaint triggered a supervisory process conducted by Bishop Martin McLee of the New York Annual Conference and an attempt to find a just resolution among the parties.  When this process failed to yield such a resolution in the time period specified by the The Discipline of the United Methodist Church, Bishop McLee announced that he would refer the matter to a Counsel for The Church for further investigation.

Bishop McLee appointed the Rev. Timothy J. Riss, pastor of The Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church and an elder in the New York Annual Conference, to represent the Church’s interests in all further proceedings.  Rev. Riss reviewed the facts in the case and eventually determined that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a charge being filed against Rev. Ogletree for violating ¶2702.1b of the Discipline, which prohibits United Methodist pastors from officiating at same gender marriage ceremonies.  He drew up a bill of charges, consisting of a single charge that Rev. Ogletree had violated the provisions of ¶2702.1b and presented his findings to Bishop McLee.  Bishop McLee accepted Rev. Riss’s recommendation to proceed to a trial and then appointed retired United Methodist Bishop S. Clifton Ives to preside over the trial.  He also scheduled the trial for March 10, 2014 at First United Methodist Church in Stamford, CT.

On January 29, 2014, at the first meeting among the counsels and Presiding Officer, Bishop Ives, in keeping with Disciplinary guidelines, made the decision to return the matter to Bishop McLee for a further attempt at just resolution.  This was done with the concurrence of Rev. Riss and the Counsel for Rev. Ogletree, the Rev. Scott Campbell, pastor of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, MA, and with the agreement of Bishop McLee.  A meeting was fixed with Bishop McLee and the other parties for the morning of February 6.  At that time a verbal agreement on the general terms of a just resolution was achieved.  The details of the agreement were subsequently communicated, refined and agreed upon by the Church and the respondent via email and conference calls.  The terms of this agreement follow.

Agreement for a Just Resolution

After a process of dialogue spanning nearly two months, the persons signing this document have entered into a Just Resolution Agreement in the matter of the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree and the New York Annual Conference.  The comments of the Rev. Randall C. Paige and the Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen, the original complainants, were received and considered as part of the just resolution negotiations.  They are entered as a part of the record of this process.  The terms of the agreement are:

1.  Dr. Ogletree agrees to forego his constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial by his peers.

2.  Dr. Ogletree agrees to make himself available, health permitting, for at least one public forum to be convened by the office of Bishop Martin McLee to reflect theologically, spiritually and ecclesiastically on the nature of the covenant that binds us together in the United Methodist Church.

3.  Bishop McLee calls for and commits to a cessation of church trials for conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies and instead will offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation.  His statement is attached to this document. [below]

4.  Bishop McLee will convene within six months a public forum dealing with matters of human sexuality and the United Methodist Church.

a. The purpose of this forum will be to contribute to healing within the body and greater understanding among those who are affiliated with the New York Annual Conference.  The Bishop intends that persons would listen deeply to one another in an atmosphere of Christian respect.

b. This forum shall reflect a variety of different opinions and understandings.

c. Dr. Ogletree, representatives from MIND (Methodists in New Directions), the Wesley Fellowship, and other such parties as the Bishop shall determine shall be invited to participate in this forum.

d. The Bishop shall report on his plans for this forum and the results of this forum to the Committee on the Episcopacy of the New York Annual Conference.  This Committee shall have the authority to modify the timeline for this forum if necessary.

5.  The Parties recognize that certain limited third parties involved in legal consultation may be privy to the circumstances and terms of the Just Resolution proceedings.  Notwithstanding those limited disclosures, the Just Resolution negotiations themselves are to be considered confidential.  It is understood that the parties with whom such limited disclosure is shared are bound by the same confidentiality as the signatories to this agreement.

AGREED AND RATIFIED March 10, 2014

For the Church:

Bishop Martin D. McLee
New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Robert Walker
Assistant to the Bishop
The New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Timothy J. Riss
Counsel for the Church
Rev. Lynda Bates-Stepe
Assistant Counsel for the Church

For the Respondent:
Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree
Rev. William Scott Campbell
Counsel for Respondent
Rev. Paul Fleck
Assistant Counsel for Respondent

Entered this tenth day of March, 2014

Bishop S. Clifton Ives
Presiding Officer
Rev. Dr. William S. Shillady
Secretary of the Court

 

Statement by Bishop Martin McLee of the
New York Annual Conference

I am grateful to report that the matter concerning the Reverend Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree will not result in a church trial as a just resolution has been achieved. The just resolution provisions of the Book of Discipline are clear in voicing just resolution as the preferred response in Judicial Administration. Church trials produce no winners. While many insist on the trial procedure for many reasons, I offer that trials are not the way forward. Church trials disrupt annual conference life, they drain dedicated Episcopal and staff time. Church trials result in harmful polarization and continue the harm brought upon our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. The burdensome cost of trials combine to negate any benefit in the ongoing debate on matters relating to human sexuality.

As the Bishop of the New York Annual Conference, in consideration of my responsibility to provide spiritual, pastoral and temporal oversight for those committed to my care, I call for and commit to a cessation of church trials for conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-gender wedding ceremonies and instead offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation. I understand that nothing in this agreement deprives any clergyperson of his or her constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial.

In the next few months I will invite the Reverend Dr. Ogletree to join others from varying perspectives to a public forum on the true nature of the covenant that binds us together. Clearly there continues to be multiple perspectives on matters of human sexuality and the response of the church. While this forum may not resolve this ongoing challenge, it will provide an opportunity for healing and a chance for open and honest dialogue.

God bless us all as we seek to be light and life in a time of theological challenge.

All my prayers,
Bishop Martin McLee

Statement by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree

In recognition of Bishop Martin McLee’s publicly stated intention to approach the matter of marriage equality in a non-juridical manner, but instead to offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical reflection, I hereby relinquish my right to a trial on the charge that has been brought against me for officiating at a same gender wedding ceremony. I further agree to make myself available, health permitting, to participate in the above-mentioned Forum that Bishop McLee will convene.

Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree

End of Just Resolution Agreement

Download media packet as a pdf file

Rev. Dr. Thomas Warren Ogletree
Rev. Dr. Thomas Warren Ogletree
Respondent,
Retired Elder, NYAC,The United Methodist Church

Rev. Randall C. Paige
Rev. Randall C. Paige
Complainant,
Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen
Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen
Complainant,
Retired Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Bishop Martin D. McLee
Bishop Martin D. McLee
Episcopal Leader,NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Timothy J. Riss
Rev. Timothy J. Riss 
Counsel for the Church,
Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Bishop S. Clifton Ives
Bishop S. Clifton Ives
Presiding Elder of the Court,
Retired Bishop,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Scott Campbell
Rev. Scott Campbell
Counsel for Respondent,
Elder, New England Confreence,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Robert Walker
Rev. Robert Walker
Assistant to the Bishop,
Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Lynda Bates-Stepe
Rev. Lynda Bates-Stepe
Assistant Counsel for the Church,
Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Paul Fleck
Rev. Paul Fleck
Assistant Counsel for Respondent,
Provisional Elder,NYAC, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. William S. Shillady

Rev. Dr. William S. Shillady
Secretary of the Court,
Elder, NYAC,
The United Methodist Church