Several people, having heard the story of Still Waters UMC, had questions about the Book of Discipline (“BoD”). Below is a reply from the church clarifying and buttressing points to the story. If you have not heard the story, you can go here.
If you are anywhere near the Atlanta area you must be aware that the UMC is NOT upholding the portion of the Book of Discipline regarding the biblical teaching about homosexuality. We are holding fast to it (and ALL the BoD) and the forces that are working hard to change the BoD and are coming against us.
Some make statements that are very common within the UMC, but are in fact false. It’s like many Christians who never read the Bible but make claims to what it says yet are completely mistaken. False information has been passed down from generation to generation and taken as fact. This is what seems to be happening with the UMC BoD.
First, congregants and clergy alike are being told by people in positions of authority that “local pastors” can be dismissed any time for no reason. This is NOT per the Book of Discipline. ¶602 clearly states that local pastors are members of the clergy as well as elders. It lays out different privileges regarding voting at annual conferences, yes, but not regarding treatment within an appointment. On the contrary, ¶363 makes it clear that any member of clergy (elder, deacon, local, whether part or full time) has equal rights of review if a complaint is brought against them. ¶602 also goes on to say that local pastors who complete “course of study” or receive an M.Div. degree have their voting rights expanded. Dr. Hulslander obviously has more than qualified under the educational standard of the BoD. ¶311.4 also states “A local pastor may choose to remain in a local relationship with the annual conference upon having completed the five-year course of study.” Again, Dr. Hulslander has much more than completed course of study.
Second, the deed to the church is in the name of the local congregation. There is a trust clause which may be invoked by the conference but that would only be valid if the congregation was acting against the UMC. In this case that is not happening; as a matter of fact it is the conference which is acting against the Book of Discipline.
Third, the person did indeed curse and is certainly not fit to pastor anyone.
Fourth, the district did indeed give their formal reasons for dismissal. They were talked about on the radio program. They are either false or misdirected and certainly not grounds for dismissal without due process as is outlined in the UMC Book of Discipline ¶363 (“Complaint Procedures”).