We’re going to The Compassion Experience! An interactive tour of life in the developing world. We’re getting the kids and kids at heart together for a trip to The Life Church on Bryce Lane on Sunday, the 28th, after services! There will be a pizza lunch, and we’ll go in the van. We will leave in time for our reservation at 2, and return no later than 4-4:30. It’s free! WHERE: The Life Church, 5515 Bryce Ln. Richmond, VA 23224
CARITAS Director Needed
Ginter Park UMC needs a volunteer to be our local Director/Leader to take charge of overseeing details for our CARITAS hosting week for about 32 females currently scheduled from February 1st to 8th, 2020. We have people willing to assist in many ways with some of the tasks but for us to continue this mission, we require one person to take the lead. If you are interested in being this person, please contact Pastor Dennis. Any questions you might have may also be directed to him. If we are unable to secure a volunteer Director/Leader for CARITAS next year, we will need to cancel our proposed hosting week.
The group is planning a trip to the Washington National Cathedral on May 29th for a tour. Following the tour we will head up the tower where we will enjoy a wonderful view overlooking Washington and we will also be served Tea and other goodies while in the tower. This will be a really great day!
Then in June, we will meet on Sunday evening for a light dinner followed by a trip to hear the Richmond Pops which everyone enjoyed last year. That will be on June 23rd. Everyone is invited to join us in any of these events. It is helpful if you call to let us know you are coming but if you forget to call please join us anyway.
For the May and June events you must call since they are ticketed events. Please call the Church Office at (804)262-8651 or Beth and Roy at (804)266-3164. We look forward to your joining us.
Tuesday, May 7, 10am meeting followed by program. Bring sandwich. Dessert and drink provided. Thursday, May 9, On The Road Again in Mission Express to Portsmouth. Cost $70 includes transportation, lunch and dinner and our UMW spirit! Arrive 10:45am, Hands-on projects. Leave 3:15pm. Contact Sara Lynn Croll if interested in participating.
FOOD PANTRY NEEDS
Your food pantry's supply of paper grocery bags with handles is extremely low. Kroger and Trader Joe's stores are now providing paper bags with handles. Also, Lidl stores are selling paper bags with handles at 7 cents each. If you or your neighbors shop at any of these stores, please donate them to the food pantry. Should we need to purchase these bags from a restaurant supplier, the cost is 15-1/2 cents each. We can also use canned goods such as corn, tuna and peanut butter. Donations may be left outside of the food pantry (Burchette Room) door on the first floor as you come in from the parking lot. We are currently serving over 60 needy families per week from our food pantry and clothes closet. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Please inform the church office of any graduates within our church family. We will celebrate all graduates on Sunday, June 9th during both worship services.
CHURCH YARD SALE
Come out and support our Church! On Saturday, May 4, from 8 A.M. – 1 P.M., we are hosting our Community Yard Sale in our parking lot (NO RAIN DATES). Volunteers are needed, so please consider joining us to help make it another successful season. Vendors please call 262-8651. Only $10 to rent each “Selling Spot” to sell your items. Now is the time to clear your attic and garage. Help spread the word! Come buy or sell. Help is needed before, during, and after our Community Yard Sale. Please contact Mary Swing at the church (262-8651).
JUDICIAL COUNCIL MEETS
The United Methodist Church’s top court is poised to review actions taken in February during a contentious legislative session that still threatens to divide the denomination.
The Judicial Council meets April 23-26 in Evanston, Illinois. No oral hearings are scheduled, and the court’s rulings will be postedon its website at some point after the session concludes. TheApril 2019 docketis short but significant. General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, in February passed the Traditional Plan, which strengthens enforcement of bans on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy and same-sex weddings.
A snapshot of Judicial Council: Exactly who is part of Judicial Council, the top court of The United Methodist Church, and what are its duties? United Methodist Communications interviewed several members of the Judicial Council last October. In a new video, they discuss the court’s role and responsibilities. “We are not lawmakers,” said the Rev. Dennis Blackwell, a veteran council member from the Greater New Jersey Conference. “The law is actually made in General Conference. Our responsibility as council members is to interpret the law of the church.”
Resource: What is … the Judicial Council? The Rev. Timothy Bruster, a delegate from the Central Texas Conference, later made a motion to request a declaratory decision by the Judicial Council on “the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect” of the Traditional Plan. The motion passed 405-395, exceeding the requirement that at least 20 percent of delegates approve sending a request to the council.
Bruster also happens to be the first clergy alternate for Judicial Council, although he has recused himself from the spring meeting. The second docket item is a request from the United Methodist Council of Bishops for a declaratory decision on the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect of Petition 90066, which was one of the proposed “exit plans” allowing local churches to leave the denomination.
In his brief to the Judicial Council, Bruster argues “that the Traditional Plan as adopted by the General Conference should be treated as one plan and be ruled unconstitutional as a whole by the Judicial Council.” He cited Decision 1210 from General Conference 2012, when the court looked at the entirety of “Plan UMC”when ruling it unconstitutional. That legislation would have restructured the church agencies. Bruster also argues that language in the Book of Discipline singling out “the LGBTQ+ community” is contrary to the church’s constitution and violates the rule to “do no harm.” During the Feb. 23-26 special session of General Conference, the conference’s legislative committee submitted 17 petitions to Judicial Council for review. In response, the court inDecision 1377found nine petitions and one sentence in another petition — on subjects ranging from episcopal accountability to examination of candidates for ministry to disaffiliation — to be unconstitutional. Petition 90066, which dealt with church exits, violated Paragraph 33 because it omitted the annual conference as the body ratifying a local church vote to change affiliation, the Judicial Council ruled. This exit strategy from the denomination was amended before later approval by General Conference 2019, but remains unconstitutional for two reasons, the Council of Bishops said in its request for a declaratory decision. First, there is still no requirement for annual conference approval, the bishops pointed out. Second, there was no change in disciplinary law related to homosexuality by the legislative body that would trigger provisions allowing churches to leave.Much of the rationale in finding the petitions unconstitutional in Decision 1377 came from a previous ruling made last October when the court met in Zurich. Decision 1366, which covered a review of the proposed legislation for the Traditional Plan and One Church Plan, stressed that church law must be applied fairly at all levels of the connection. The Rev. William B. Lawrence — a former president of Judicial Council and retired dean of Perkins School of Theology who filed his own brief at the Zurich meeting — finds it “theoretically possible that some decision made in Zurich could come out differently.” Legislation considered before General Conference 2019 could be seen as hypothetical, while after the General Conference action, he noted, it’s a fact. “People could view it differently.” For the same reasons, Lawrence said, the Judicial Council could decide that the Traditional Plan, in its entirety, is not constitutional. “Something that had passed muster in Zurich might not pass muster this time.” In order for the top court to make a ruling on constitutionality, “all nine seats at the table must be filled by members or alternates,” he said. At least six of the nine who are seated must vote the same way. That was the case with Decision 1377, when the majority of Judicial Council members found that two petitions about disaffiliation, 90050 and 90066, were in conflict with the constitution, but a dissent was filed by three participating in the decision. In the end, Petition 90050 was not adopted by General Conference.
This time around — on the disaffiliation issue or any other matter — the composition of the nine people making the decision could change, or another person might be persuaded to join the dissent and the ruling could change, Lawrence pointed out. If the vote of unconstitutionality drops from 6-3 to 5-4, it remains constitutional, he said. The separate request for a declaratory decision on Petition 90066, which “adds a provision of law, but amends nothing in regards to the trust clause” that holds property within the denomination, also opens the possibility of the top court considering whether a more recently written law should take precedent, Lawrence said. He explained that while it is generally true that only General Conference has full authority to write the laws of the denomination, the Judicial Council also has authority by reviewing and affirming decisions of law by individual bishops, even though such laws are not published anywhere except as “case law” in Judicial Council decisions. Lawrence said that he personally would be opposed to a Judicial Council decision that created case law out of what could be a very temporary situation. General Conference 2020 has the opportunity to overturn any of the legislation adopted in 2019. A better strategy for the court, particularly in response to the Bruster motion, Lawrence said, would be to look at each of the 15 pieces of legislation that comprise the Traditional Plan, along with the legislation for the disaffiliation plan. “What has to be examined are the specific pieces of legislation that General Conference has adopted,” he stressed. The court could then look at how each piece of legislation relates to the constitution and how the separate pieces of legislation relate to each other. That would be much easier way to find a precedent, Lawrence said.
Bloom is an assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.
Joys & Concerns
Delores Patroske, Barbara Bennardo, needs a liver transplant, Xander Perkinson, Barbara “Shirly” Gelston (Liz Turner’s great Aunt) for heart issues, flu and pneumonia, Ted Hughes (Liz Turner’s great Uncle) with brain cancer, Claude Cheely, Harriet Cogle, Nik, Teddy Sears, Joyce Forcke, Frankie Irons, Shirley Overstreet, Judy Wilkinson, JaneWhitlow, Cindy White, Jennifer Maitland, Isabelle Brown. Mary’s brother Bill, recovering from shoulder replacement surgery.