The California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has severed its ties with Fuller Youth Institute, a branch of Fuller Theological Seminary, over the issue of same-sex marriage. The following communication was sent conference-wide:
December 18, 2019
During the fall of 2019, more than 30 of our local churches began a year-long process to learn how to grow younger in partnership with Fuller Theological Seminary. At the outset of this relationship, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño and her Extended Cabinet engaged with the Fuller Youth Institute to be clear about how Fuller would handle issues around full inclusion and our LGBTQIA+ siblings. Bishop Carcaño and the Extended Cabinet were assured that our values on inclusivity would be honored as our partnership with Fuller began.
On November 25, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a lawsuit filed against Fuller Theological Seminary. The lawsuit alleges that in November of 2018 a student was expelled from the seminary on the sole basis of being in a same-sex marriage. Rev. Craig Brown, Executive Director for Congregational Development, has verified that the seminary’s leadership, including the dean and president, supported this decision as part of the seminary’s sexual ethics policy. That policy is passive in its language regarding human sexuality, making the decision to expel a student based on their marital status an active and decisive choice on the part of the seminary.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño and her Extended Cabinet have voted to terminate our relationship with the Fuller Youth Institute effective immediately. Bishop Carcaño and the Extended Cabinet strongly believe that we cannot maintain our witness for the full inclusion of all people in Christ’s church while continuing in this relationship with Fuller. This decision comes with the recognition of the good work that is beginning to happen in our Growing Young Cohort churches. Bishop Carcaño and the Extended Cabinet prayerfully discerned how to best live out our call to ministry as an annual conference.
“We are committed to the fruitful work of the Growing Young Cohort in the life of our annual conference. While our relationship with Fuller Youth Institute must come to an end, the work of this year’s cohort class must and will continue. We look forward to building our own work in this area that honors our own core values of inclusivity for all God’s people,” said Rev. Craig S. Brown, the Executive Director of Congregational Development, whose office oversees the Growing Young Cohort.
Churches currently in the cohort will continue as planned but under different resourcing and leadership. Plans for another cohort for 2020-2021 are taking shape with the needed changes due to the termination of the annual conference’s relationship with Fuller.