Feb 052014

And herein is where your decision fails. You clearly state that the “former” statement of welcome would fall within the interpretive framework of the Book of Discipline. Despite you and others pretending it was never adopted, it in fact was. It has never been rescinded, and would remain in effect. The simple question here, then, is under what authority can this pastor, or any pastor, simply disregard the “legal” actions of a Church Council (current or previous). You’ve provided not citation for any requirement that all actions by previous Church Councils be “renewed” with each new pastoral appointment.

There is no authority granted in the Book of Discipline for the action by Bruce Toms. He has, in fact, publicly supported his action by claiming it was done under the authority of his requirement to maintain the order. Your statement here makes it clear that the “former” statement of welcome is not a violation of order or the Book of Discipline. What then gives Bruce Toms, or any pastor, the authority to simply dismiss the legitimate action of a Church Council based on their own prejudices? That remains the open question here, which you have failed to address.

“The functioning of the Church Council and its deliberation on this topic is also a matter of dispute among differing lay members. The protocol for decision-making within the Church Council is a conversation between the chair and the pastor, and not a substantive matter within a formal complaint.”

You would be correct that the protocol for decision-making within the Church Council is a conversation between the chair and pastor, but the rest of this paragraph makes no sense in the context of this case. Maybe there is some dispute as to WHEN the statement was adopted, but there is NO dispute that the “former” statement was, in fact, adopted. It is, at best, disingenuous for you to continue trying to use this as support for your position, and at worst, it is dishonest.

For these reasons, and with the consent of the cabinet of the Florida Conference (363.e.l), I am dismissing the supervisory complaint brought forward by Mr. Masters against Rev. Toms. I am grateful to each of you for the time we spent together in a conversational meeting in the Episcopal office. I have experienced you to be persons seeking the will of God, and in your own words, reconciliation. I wish you the best as you continue to follow Jesus as disciples. With you, I search for ways that the church of Jesus Christ, in its United Methodist expression, can share the grace of God with all people.

No sir, you and Bruce Toms are NOT searching for ways to share the grace of God with all people. You have clearly made a decision that statements of welcome, which include our LGBT brothers and sisters are to not be allowed in the Florida Conference.

You have, in this letter, indicated the “former” statement was not in violation of the Discipline. You have since stated, in emails with me, that Pastors do not have the right to unilaterally overrule a Church Council. Since my previous attempt at providing a complete record for your review, was clearly not reviewed in detail. I will provide a much shorter complaint, laying out just those points, and we’ll go through the process once more.

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