United Methodist Minister Defrocked After Suggesting Changes To Robert's Rules Of Order
Observers knew that the United Methodist Church General Conference 2019 (UMC19) would be a wild ride. But many didn’t know how wild. The UMC is fracturing along theological lines. Part of the UMC wants to affirm all forms of human sexuality, and approve of LGBTQ+ for clergy positions. It was understood that after the conference there would likely be a breaking apart of the current second largest denomination in America. But not too many expected clergy to be dismissed during the conference.
On Monday, Rev. Susan Sorensen was defrocked early in the conference for suggesting that some of Robert’s Rules of Order be set aside to make the meeting more culturally relevant. Sorensen shares, “This conference is primarily about setting aside God’s Rules of Order. I am one of the proponents of the setting aside of sexual rules found in the ancient scriptures. While the Bible seems to suggest that God forbids homosexuality, we need to understand that the Bible is old. And culture has moved on. We need to change as well. I’ve been suggesting this from the pulpit for 20 years. I was never disciplined for recommending that we should reject parts of the Bible. But I show up to this conference and I am defrocked instantly for wanting to reject part of parliamentary rules? I don’t know what to say.”
Dr. Hank Varger, part of the GC19 leadership team took some time to explain the situation. “We gathered here to decide whether or not we would follow the Bible. We may not. And that is fine. But if we are going to reject the Word of God, we are going to do that in a way that is done in an orderly fashion. Robert’s Rules of Order gives us a framework that allows for the best chance at a successful meeting culture. The former Reverend Sorensen stood and suggested that we set aside some of the Rules of Order. Can you imagine if we just cut out the parts of Robert’s Rules that we don’t like, or the parts that do not reflect our current culture? We would have chaos. How can we agree on whether or not we will follow God’s rules if we don’t follow Robert’s Rules?”
“It is a shame,” says delegate Jim Lincoln. “Rev. Sorensen was a champion for our progressive movement. If she had just been wiling to follow parliamentary rules, we could have probably seen a successful vote to eliminate Biblical rules of sexuality and leadership. Now… we just don’t know how it is going to go. I think there is a lesson here. We must always remember to obey the rules if we want to get rid of rules.”