Impressions from the October FUM General Board Meeting
When this issue came before the Board, these hopes were proven to be futile. There were people who would not approve of dropping the paragraph. There were others who could not approve a manual that included a discriminatory policy. As the discussion progressed I found myself becoming increasingly uneasy with the approach of trying to come up with acceptable language. It seems to me that trying to find a solution in carefully crafted language is a political approach to what is really a spiritual problem.
The immediate resolution was to send the proposed manual to a labor lawyer to see that it conforms with Indiana labor law. There should also be consultation with someone familiar with immigration law to see what risks we are exposed to by our policy of not requiring people to submit I-9 forms. Our position as a church makes us exempt from the anti-discrimination laws concerning gays and lesbians but there were questions about whether our acceptance of US Government grants for the Kenyan hospitals and Ramallah Friends School has any impact on this. Basically we said that we could not approve the manual until this consultation happened, any required revisions were made, and our questions of fact were answered. This of course does not resolve the problem, it only provides more time. Whatever the lawyers say, I do not expect that it will resolve the problem.
As far as I can tell, we cannot solve the problem of the sexual ethics policy by any of our normal organizational means. This does not mean that the problem is insoluble. Nothing is impossible to God. At some point, the General Board will have to be willing to spend as much time in prayer as is needed to find God's will. We will need to be humble enough, all of us, to recognize that the solution we favor may not be what God would do. It may also be that we have to spend a long time in prayer together before we can see a way forward. I would ask everyones prayers for FUM in dealing with this issue. In particular I would ask for prayers that we can all lay down our agendas and be able to listen carefully to God and to each other so that we can come to a place of unity in Spirit that can lead us forward. God is working here already. God is always working with us. I pray that we can find ways to work with God.
Blessings to all,