The Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church has declared that the church is in error and instructed its bishops and clergy to stop following the requirements of the church’s Book of Discipline. In a Statement of Gospel Obedience, the jurisdiction declared:
We commend to our bishops, clergy, local churches and ministry settings, the challenge to operate as if the statement in Para. 161F does not exist …
A related article from the Pacific-Northwest Conference states that the measure passed “overwhelmingly.”
A jurisdiction does not have the authority to nullify portions of the church’s law. How, then, is the rest of the church to relate to the bishops and clergy of the Western Jurisdiction who now no longer submit themselves to the church’s Discipline? Surely they are brothers and sisters in Christ, as are members of Christian churches whose views diverge from those held by the United Methodist Church. It is only under the structure established by the Discipline, however, that United Methodist bishops function as bishops and elders function as elders. The Discipline gives United Methodist clergy their authority; without the Discipline, they have none.