By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In a significant move toward a possible future change to United Methodist Church’s doctrine and discipline, the Pacific Northwest Conference’s 2016 Annual Conference voted for non-conformity to the Book of Discipline’s mandates proscribing gay marriage, gay ministers, and the disbursement of funds toward gay causes. In effect, the measure declares that the PNW Conference will not participate in any judicial or disciplinary actions against those who violate these laws enumerated within the Book of Discipline. This represents a strong departure from doctrine.
The subject of homosexuality has in the United Methodist Church traditionally brought decades of internal conflict within the Church from parishioners, clergy, bishops, and the various conferences; especially since the choices in the row have been polar in nature–either the status quo or to completely allow acceptance of homosexuality. The non-conformity action might finally offer a middle ground for the Church Community to move closer to that of society and of the secular laws.