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Renewal Agenda for General Conference

Delegates study legislation at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

Delegates study legislation at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

By Thomas Lambrecht-

Every four years, delegates from all over the world gather to represent global United Methodism. We worship together, celebrate vital ministry accomplishments, and spend most of our time attempting to discern the best way forward for The United Methodist Church over the next four years. More than 1,000 petitions will be considered by the 2016 General Conference in Portland. Some petitions make minor changes to the way we function as a church, found in our Book of Discipline. Others would make sweeping changes.

Since 1976, Good News has believed it is important to speak for orthodox and traditional United Methodists in an environment where progressive and revisionist voices often dominate. For at least three quadrennia, Good News has been joined by other ministries within United Methodism to form the Renewal and Reform Coalition. Together, we represent the broad base of evangelical concern within our church. The Confessing Movement, UMAction, and Lifewatch are all part of the coalition. Transforming Congregations (ministry with persons and families experiencing sexual brokenness) and the Renew Network (Bible-based ministry with women) are now programs of Good News and are also part of the coalition.

The Renewal and Reform Coalition has three major priorities in Portland: 1) uphold biblical teaching on life, marriage, and human sexuality, 2) restore and strengthen the integrity and accountability of our covenant connection as United Methodists, and 3) promote the fair representation and empowerment of our United Methodist brothers and sisters outside the U.S. Allow me to summarize some of the important proposals relating to our priorities.

Life, Marriage, and Human Sexuality

Abortion. Over the past decade, our United Methodist statements on abortion have become more pro-life. We continue to work to strengthen our statements to advocate for the lives of unborn children and their mothers. The most significant hindrance to our denomination’s advocacy for life is the membership of our General Board of Church and Society and the national United Methodist Women in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

United Methodism should not be stigmatized as being a part of a fringe pro-abortion advocacy group. At most, our denomination is a reluctant supporter of legalized abortion.

RCRC supports abortion as a means of birth control. United Methodism does not. RCRC supports abortion for gender selection. United Methodism does not. RCRC supports abortion for babies with potential or actual physical or mental disabilities. United Methodism does not. RCRC even favors the gruesome late-term abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion. United Methodism does not.

Let’s be clear, RCRC has never supported any restriction on abortion whatsoever. RCRC’s radical positions are at odds with our nuanced United Methodist understanding. Therefore, we are promoting legislation that would mandate UM organizations to leave the RCRC coalition.

Marriage and Sexuality. Since 1972, The United Methodist Church has maintained its balanced and biblical stance that all persons are loved by God and of sacred worth, and that our sexuality is only to be practiced as God intended, within the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. This means that we consider the practice of homosexuality to be “incompatible with Christian teaching,” we do not allow pastors to perform same-sex weddings or unions, and we do not accept self-avowed practicing homosexuals as ordained clergy.

Since 1972, however, there have been concerted efforts to reverse or abandon this principled position that agrees with 2,000 years of Christian teaching and 95 percent of all Christians around the world. The Portland General Conference will be no exception.

There are numerous petitions that would rewrite our statements in the Book of Discipline to reverse our biblical and compassionate standards for marriage and sexuality. Our coalition will advocate against such petitions.

There are also petitions that would state that the UM Church is not of one mind, and that we therefore leave it up to each person’s conscience whether they perform same-sex weddings or approve practicing homosexuals as ordained clergy. This effort to preserve church unity at the cost of abandoning clear biblical teaching would create a form of congregationalism within Methodism that is alien to our connectional ethos. Our coalition will oppose these efforts, as well.

Another approach to dealing with the conflict over marriage and sexuality is to change our church structure. The most subtle version of this approach is to create a new U.S. central conference that would allow the U.S. to set different standards and codes of conduct for ministers than United Methodists in the other parts of the world. For example, this approach could permit same-sex weddings and practicing gay clergy in the U.S., while other parts of the church could maintain the current standards. Another version of this approach would allow each jurisdiction within the U.S. to set its own standards for ministers, and then allow annual conferences and local churches to affiliate with whatever jurisdiction would best represent their understanding of ministry.

These structural proposals would, in some cases, add an expensive new layer of bureaucracy to the church, and would in all cases weaken our worldwide connection as United Methodists. Many traditionalists in the church could not accept being part of a denomination that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. This is a recipe for schism or separation, and we therefore oppose these proposals.

Integrity and Accountability 

We do not see the disagreement over marriage and sexuality as a major threat to the future of United Methodism. After all, we have survived with it for 40 years. Instead, the major cause for potential schism is the intentional disobedience and defiance of our denominational policies and requirements.

In many parts of the U.S., clergy are performing same-sex weddings and unions without consequences, and often with the support of their bishop. Openly practicing homosexuals, often married to or living with a person of the same gender, are serving as ordained clergy without hindrance. Our UM standards are fast becoming irrelevant in parts of the church.

This blatant and growing disobedience undermines the trust and connection that bind us together as United Methodists. If some parts of the Discipline can be ignored with impunity, why not other parts? If allowed to continue, this mindset will destroy our denomination or turn it into a loose confederation of congregations and annual conferences.

Our only hope to stay united as a church is to restore the integrity and accountability of our covenant. That is why our coalition will be advocating for proposals like the following:

• Requiring that those who file complaints against clergy must agree to any resolution of those complaints (instead of allowing complaints against clergy who perform same-sex weddings to be quietly settled with no consequences).

• Requiring that any resolution of a complaint must include an apology and a promise not to repeat the offense.

• Revising the accountability process for bishops, so that complaints against bishops are handled by a global body of clergy and laity, rather than the bishop’s own colleagues.

• Imposing a mandatory minimum penalty for clergy found guilty of performing a same-sex wedding of a one-year suspension for a first offense and removal of credentials for a second offense.

• Requiring that any counsel for the church must agree with the provision that the defendant is accused of violating (instead of allowing bishops to appoint people who disagree with the Discipline to act as the prosecutor to uphold the Discipline in the case).

• Allowing for congregations and clergy who cannot in good conscience abide by the Discipline to leave the denomination with their property and pension intact.

• Broadening the definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual,” so that those who are married to a same-sex person or who have publicly acknowledged being a practicing homosexual would no longer be able to serve as clergy.

• Adding as a chargeable offense “interfering with the General Conference or another United Methodist body or agency’s ability to conduct business,” in order to counteract the disruption of General Conference and other agencies by activists.

• Requiring that all petitions that pass a legislative committee at General Conference must receive a vote by the plenary session (instead of allowing opponents to filibuster and delay the process in order to prevent action).

Fair Representation and Empowerment

The UM Church and its predecessors began as a U.S. church with foreign missions. We are now evolving into a worldwide church of equal partners. United Methodists outside the U.S. make up about 40 percent of our denomination’s total membership. The equality of our partnership, however, is still hindered, both by an occasional attitude of U.S. superiority and by the lack of equal representation on church policymaking bodies. Some of our general church agencies have made progress in serving the worldwide church, rather than just the U.S. Other agencies have yet to take that step.

One of the biggest barriers to a perception of equality is financial. Roughly 99 percent of all apportionment money comes from U.S. church members. However, the churches outside the U.S. contribute nearly $1 million per year on a strictly voluntary basis (mainly from Europe).

For the first time, General Conference is poised to adopt an apportionment formula for all the churches outside the U.S. This formula will set giving targets for all the non-U.S. churches, based on their financial ability to pay, will allow a fuller expression of partnership, and will aid non-U.S. churches in building their capacity to participate on an equal footing in the financial support of the church’s ministries. The Renewal and Reform Coalition supports this move.

Another way that some central conferences are treated unequally is in the assignment of bishops. In the U.S. there is quite a range of how many members each bishop is responsible for. The smallest episcopal area has 33,000 members, while the largest has 362,000 members. In Africa, by contrast, the smallest episcopal area has nearly 13,000 members, while the largest has nearly 1.4 million members!

African areas that have more members per bishop than any U.S. area are Nigeria (458,000), Cote d’Ivoire (677,000), Southern Congo (1,055,000), and North Katanga (1,382,000). Roads and other infrastructure shortcomings make it much more difficult for African bishops to exercise adequate supervision and leadership.

Requests for additional bishops for Africa were made in 2012, but the conference deferred. Now the Standing Committee on Central Conference Affairs acknowledges that five new bishops are needed in Africa, but wants to postpone them until 2020. Meanwhile, the fastest growing areas in the church are suffering with bishops who cannot keep up with the growth. The Renewal and Reform Coalition supports the African request for additional bishops for Nigeria, Southern Congo, and North Katanga beginning in 2016. This request cannot wait another four years.

Fair representation of churches outside the U.S. at General Conference has improved, but there are still problems. While African churches have nearly 40 percent of the denomination’s membership, they receive only 30 percent of the delegates at General Conference. This is because Europe and the Philippines have more than their fair share of delegates. The imbalance is caused by the requirement that every annual conference is entitled to at least two General Conference delegates. The Renewal and Reform Coalition supports a proposal to guarantee a minimum of two delegates per episcopal area instead, bringing the numbers more in balance.

The final area where fair representation is needed is on general church boards and agencies. Right now, church membership outside the U.S. accounts for over 40 percent of all United Methodists, but only about 10 percent of board and agency members. Even the Connectional Table, Methodism’s most important coordinating agency, has only seven non-U.S. members out of 59. The Renewal and Reform Coalition supports efforts to increase non-U.S. members on our boards and agencies, as they continue to evolve into serving the worldwide church.

Biblical teachings, integrity and accountability, and fair representation and empowerment capture the heart of the Renewal and Reform Coalition agenda for General Conference 2016. We believe these themes reflect not just a narrow partisan agenda, but embody what is needed to help the whole United Methodist Church take positive steps toward renewal. As we face the crisis of declining membership and financial support, our church needs to unite around our common core of biblical teachings, hold our leaders and members accountable to the integrity of our covenant, and empower our non-U.S. members as equal partners in a shared worldwide ministry. This is truly the way forward for our beloved church.

Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News.

Comments

  1. Don Tabberer says:

    I am sad that this articles calls for punishment of anyone with whom you disagree. That is not Jesus’ way and it should not be the way of the church. We are called to be a healing and merciful body, not a judgmental and punishing one. All sides of these issues are selecting the portions of Scripture that suit their agenda and ignoring the full arc of God’s revelation. This article is about institutional preservation and ignores the fact that Jesus established no institution at all. The Church is a human invention and its rules, doctrines, resolutions, and traditions are of humanity. God must shake his head daily at the foolishness of God’s human creation. Why do we not discuss all of these issues as if Jesus were the chairperson of the meeting?

    • Thornton Dudley Perry says:

      A good solution to the problem you and others who share your concern that modern culture should overcome long recognized biblical teaching and nearly 2000 years of Christian tradition would be to find an instition that shares your perverse values and leave the Methodist Church. Christian values oftentimes conflict with passion or other emotion which are sinful and not consistent with the teaching of God’s Word. Why must you try to destroy the Church which is so loved by so many as a place to worship God according to our long held convictions.

      • David says:

        Have Methodist churches been “Destroyed”? Have they? Methodist churches that have publicly stated they are “Open Door” to all people from whatever their background or life situation? Thornton, if you have seen this, please point us to the information/news about it.

        • Sylvia Scott says:

          No, I don’t know of Methodist churches being destroyed by announcing they are open to all of Jesus children. I go to a church that it is open to all. Oh my goodness! We have so much love and activity and enjoy being free. We may not all agree on every thing. I think our first mission is to introduce Jesus and serve mankind. People who don’t believe in being open should have to sit on a wooden church bench and listen the sad heart breaking stories we hear.

    • David Trawick says:

      It’s not ‘punishment of anyone with whom you disagree.” It’s punishment of those who choose to break the promises they made at ordination as a pastor and/or consecration as a bishop. If we do not keep our covenant promises, we have no real unity beyond the bureaucratic structures of the UMC. But we’re supposed to be more than a bureaucracy!

      There are plenty of other denominations that give approval of homosexual sex. If that’s your stance, why not go to one of those, rather than trying to change the one mainline denomination that has maintained a traditional biblical stance?

      It makes you sad that we want to enforce our standards. It’s make me sad that you do not understand the importance of promise keeping, of maintaining common standards, of believing the Bible says what it means. It makes me sad that you think we should all be forced to accept what YOU believe!

    • David Trawick says:

      It makes me sad that you think so little of the importance of keeping one’s promises made at ordination and/or consecration, that you would prefer disobedience to following the law book of our denomination, that you will not abide by the duly constituted rules of our legislative process, that you ignore what Scripture clearly says, that you think you are smarter than 2000 years of unified Christian teaching, that you do not see any reason to enforce the rules of the UMC.

      Without adhering to our agreed upon beliefs and rules, we have no unity other than bureaucratic structure. We’re supposed to be more than just another human bureaucracy. It makes me sad that you don’t see that.

      It makes me sad that you would force all the rest of us to submit to your ideas, rather than move to one of the many denominations with which you would agree on this issue. You said, “Jesus established no institution at all.” Then why are you trying so hard to alter this one, rather than moving to another one?

    • Rob Price says:

      Did not the apostle Paul call for discipline (“judgment”) within the body of Christ for sexual sin? Sexual desires (whether to commit adultery, incest, sodomy or fornication) are temptation, but choosing to indulge and celebrate them is sin. On this Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience all agree … it’s not “rocket science.”

      On top of this more general biblical principle, there is the matter of the covenant to consider. If pastors, churches, conferences and jurisdictions can break it at will where this matter is concerned, why not other matters as well?

      I pray that the LOVE of Christ for all will prevail in the General Conference, and that the faithfulness of Christ will serve as a model for us as we hold one another accountable to the will of the Conference and the clear teaching of scripture.

    • carla says:

      I completely concur with your statement. I am reminded of some new words to an old hymn that I heard back in the late 1960s, early 1970s as the, now, UMC started to become more regressive, and less progressive, after the merger with the EUB. To the tune of Onward Christian Soldiers, we sang “Like a mighty tortoise moves the church of God, Brothers we are treading where we’ve always trod. We are not united, not one though are we, we plod along, as we did before with the Cross of Jesus hidden behind the door.”
      Kudos to the two pastors who joined in Holy Matrimony with their long time partners who happen to be of the same gender. Kudos to the pastors who perform same gender weddings and to the bishops who do not make sexual orientation part of the ordination process, just graduation from an accredited seminary.

  2. Daniel Held says:

    This takes me back to what many Methodists must have sought in way of Biblical authority to enforce the American slave trade as clearly intended by God according to the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments. In that period of our own history, many good evangelical Methodists contended for a church that would proclaim the good news to the negro slaves unto salvation in the next life so long as they received no freedom from slavery in this one. And it all fit nicely, chapter and verse, into their position on Biblical church unity.

    • Kelli Mize says:

      I keep seeing this “Bible endorses slavery” thing as a defense for a low view of scripture. The only way I can get close to seeing this in scripture is to try to imagine myself a lawyer scrutinizing a law, not for what it actually means, but for how I could somehow infuse another meaning by play on words, contextual inventions, or historical omissions, in order that I may give a winning defense for my guilty client. The Bible does not endorse slavery. Ironically, this method of twisting words and context is the very same method used in that very bleak time in Methodist history for justifying racial slavery. I realize this defense is given by some rediculously intelligent, highly respected, and seemingly successful and well-intended pastors; however, it is not a valid argument–other than for the oddly successful usefulness of belief by repetition.

      • However, Heidi, The Methodist Episcopal Church, which it was then called, in the 1850s, did split over just that reason, slavery. The M.E. Church North disallowed the clergy and laity to own slaves, as they knew that Jesus would never condone a human to “own” another human being. The M.E. Church, South, however, quoted scripture that stated that “slaves should obey their masters.” Thus, the M.E. Church South did allow their clergy and laity to own slaves. This sad situation continued until the end of the Civil War when slavery was abolished. Sadly, however, Jim Crow laws still continued until the 1960s and all African American clergy serving A. A. churches were relegated to the Central Jurisdiction, no matter where the churches were on a map. That situation continued until the 1960s, too.
        Face it, racism is not dead to the detriment of our nation, and our LBGT sisters and brothers will still be stigmatized, in the nation, but we cannot allow our LBGT sisters and brothers to be stigmatized or disenfranchised in Christian Churches. Full inclusion of our LBGT sisters and brothers vs. marginalizing our LBGT family is parallel to what happened in the 1850s to our African American, enslaved, sisters and brothers. We must learn from history, we must not marginalize those who are born differently, whether this is color or sexual orientation, both are predetermined at birth, and none of us has any choice in the matter.

  3. Duane Anders says:

    “Most of us have minds that are too narrow to embrace the whole range of truth, so we opt for partial truth, claim infallibility for our sect and excommunicate all the others.” Richard Holloway bishop of Edinburgh.

  4. joe miller says:

    The 1972 addition to the Discipline is NOT biblical as you state. Numerous good exegetical books have been written, but I have written one.

    http://www.amazon.com/Homosexuality-Scriptural-Forward-United-Methodist/dp/163199221X?ie=UTF8&keywords=joseph%20walter%20miller&qid=1461335376&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

    Homosexuality: A Scriptural Way Forward for the United Methodist Church Paperback – November 3, 2015
    by Joseph Walter Miller (Author)

    The UMC needs to beome biblically obedient.

    • David Trawick says:

      “The 1972 addition to the Discipline is NOT biblical as you state.” Really? So you get to define what is and is not biblical? Alert!!! There are plenty of other good exegetical works that come to the traditional biblical conclusions… employing all the scholarly biblical criticism you could ask for. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to write a book or article.

      I’d suggest the current official stance of the UMC IS biblically obedient.

    • Joe, Thank you for the breath of fresh air I am very curious about and been following this General Conference to see if there are some very needed changes to the B o D. The UMC stated that they had “Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds,” but I do not see that wonderful slogan in recent church bulletins, and the church certainly is not living by that motto.
      This should be a very interesting General Conference.
      After the Methodist-Episcopal Church split ended, following the end of the Civil War, the church still relegated our Black pastors to the Central Jurisdiction, no matter where their churches were located. That “separate but equal” status was in place until the 1960s. I hope that this is not the plan for our openlyLBGT sisters and brothers. I sincerely hope that pastors who are either openly gay/lesbian or heterosexual pastors who realize that any couple, as long as both are single, and in a loving, committed relationship can be married in the UMC.

  5. Mark A VanCleave says:

    You can re-write the book of discipline but you can not rewrite the bible. You say it’s harming the LGBTQI society, what about the confusion we cause in our young adults when we say it’s OK. Do you not think that once they get involved in such perversion that their consciences’ will not haunt them the way that yours has you? It is not others that shame you, it’s you and your too blind to see. Look at the way you dress in your gay pride parades. You being gay does not bother me, it’s the pride thing. Why is it that it’s ok that you have “Freedom of Speech” but I don’t? Why is it ok for you to say anything you want but It’s a crime if I say what’s on my mind? Praying for us, Blessings, Mark VanCleave

    • Paul says:

      Mark A VanCleave… I do not know how or where to begin. I’m not sure how “far” to go in my honesty and the truth of my life experience as a Methodist from England now living here in the US. I’m in my forties now, and I have had my share of times when I have personally exhibited bigotry to others and I know that I have hurt others with what I have said and written in the past (to my shame as someone attempting to be a follower of Christ)

      I cannot express the hurt caused by the views and beliefs here that I cannot identify with. You say it is wrong to “Say it is ok” to a young person who comes to an adult and says they know that “I’m gay”?

      I can only think you have not considered this fully. I can really, seriously, only think you do not and cannot know the pain. Wesley said we should do no harm. Being gay or lesbian is not a choice. I know, when I was 18, of a mother in our Methodist church who found her son hanging in his parents’ garage, dead.

      I also know of two amazingly brave parents who have shared their story of the loss of their beloved son. Please, take time to view the video here… I saw it Sunday before I attended Sunday School. It was a hard morning at our church for me. Take a look, and see it through to the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ntauVWRUY

      • Samuel Blanco says:

        Hi Paul, I agree that we should avoid bigotry and meanness when interacting with others. However, I would ask you if it is even possible to avoid offending or harming others. I don’t think it’s possible. For example, we would say we are followers of Christ, and yet that alone is very offensive to many, and even harmful to some–at least they would think so! The only way to maybe avoid offending others is to believe in everything… which is believing nothing.

        Below you ask what marriage is–and I think that is the fundamental question! But to give an answer to this is not by itself malicious or sneaky, but is, well, just answering the question. Yes, marriages were different, at times, in the past, but so what? Even if there were cases of same-sex marriage in another culture in the past, did we not receive any teaching from God on this? Why do we need to look at culture X from time and place Y in order to find out what the Christian should believe?

        I also agree that we shouldn’t put more weight on one sin, as if one sin was more hideous than a “nicer” sin. But the UMC debate right now is over a particular claim about an important question. And the question at hand is, I think, which position is more true?

        • David says:

          I think the best bit of what Paul wrote was that last section. Any comments about this? They look like good Methodist parents to me. The UMC is in a state of saying it does one thing (Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors) but is not upholding that for LGBTQ people, like Ryan, the son of these two genuine Methodists:

          Please, take time to view the video here… I saw it Sunday before I attended Sunday School. It was a hard morning at our church for me. Take a look, and see it through to the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ntauVWRUY – See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2016/04/renewal-agenda-for-general-conference/#comments

          • Kelli Mize says:

            It is not about our opinions. I hear the testimonies of those that identify themselves as homosexuals and it is touching, I know there is pain, but there are matters of first importance. The first thing is not even “love my neighbor”, but love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. If something is so great a part of me that I cannot imagine myself apart from it, then it is sin. This is harsh. Wesley was harsh, aiming for perfection. Giving up our greatest passion, our greatest love? Surely, God doesn’t ask that of us? What about Grace? Exactly. We CAN’T do it. That is the whole point. We need Jesus. Every hour. Every minute. Every second.
            This has become such an issue that we can forget
            God’s Law. God’s will. And we serve God, not for the sake of humankind, but for the glory of Him who created it. He IS our love. Anything else may satisfy for a season but it will leave us parched and thirsting. This is God’s grace, not that we do as we please and perish. With a heavy and repentive heart, he changes us, opening our eyes to see that which we had held so tightly and thought was our deepest needs and greatest hopes are rags and ashes. He has something better for you. How can we not teach the Truth. Jesus, not man, is Lord. And He is good.

      • I cried when I viewed that video. Will the UMC, or the GC want to take responsibility for that young man’s untimely, unnecessary death or the death of others who feel as if they are “sinful,” or in “sinful relationships” by the UMC? This UMC is supposed to have “Open Doors Open Hearts, Open Minds!” Where are their Open Hearts, Doors, and Minds when it comes to our LBGTQI sisters and brothers? Are the Doors, Minds and Hearts closed to anyone who is LBGTQI? It would seem as if they are very closed. Although my membership is still in the UMC, I attend an Open and Affirming, similar to a Reconciling church, the UCC.

  6. Skipper Lay says:

    What “orthodoxy” is introduced here? Is “orthodoxy” that of the 1950′s of the USA? That would coincide with the Afrikanner apartheid. Or is it the 1920′s, when lynchings were ignored all too often from the pulpit? Or did “orthodoxy” come from the Council of Nicea, in which the “traditional” church has its roots?

    What “traditionalism” is adopted here? As Methodists, we are guided by John Wesley, who told us about the “quadrilateral” as one of the 4 corners of the quadrilateral (along with intellect, scripture and experience, with no heirarchy between them). One adds a feather of weight to the argument by shoe-spooning the “tradition” stated in this tract into Wesley’s instructions.

    • David Trawick says:

      Wesley never spoke or wrote of an equilateral quadrilateral. For him Scripture was always first and last. He said of himself, “I am a man of one book.” Professor Albert Outler coined the idea of the quadrilateral, and later regretted that it was being used in the way you suggest. His declaration was that Wesley founded everything on Scripture, using tradition (particularly the teaching of the early church fathers), reason and experience as tools for use in interpreting and applying scripture, but never to override it.

      John Wesley would roll over in his grave to see how he is being used/abused in an effort to advance a cause for which he never would have stood. He did some very innovative things. But he never loosened biblical teaching on sexual morality one iota. More importantly, neither did Jesus.

      • Skipper Lay says:

        You are way ahead of me in scholarship about John Wesley. I knew Prof. Outler, but did not know his comments on the quadriilateral, except from what I have been told by other clergy in the UMM. And I certainly didn’t mean to overconvey the message that any of the legs of the “quadrilateral” would override any of the others.

        Still, you are confident Wesley “never would have stood” for equality in all matters in the UMM Church?

        And you are confident Jesus, who told us what he came for, in Luke 4: 16-21, would have put boundaries on GLBTQ issues? He definitely was quoted as strong statements on divorce, in the context of marriage of men and women.

    • Thank you, Skipper, I hope and pray that this GC will bring about some needed change. As for people saying that it is Biblical to excoriate our LBGTQI sisters and brothers, there are interpretations that state that it is not homosexuality that was the issue, but hospitality! Jesus says nothing regarding homosexuality nor does he mention abortion, two things about which the UMC seems to obsess.

  7. Rev. Frederick Morris says:

    I continue to be amazed and dismayed the the positions of the Good News people still are given “equal time” in UMC publications and discussions. It has been well documented that this organization got its start (and in all probability some significant funding) from the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), which is funded and supported by the CIA, et al, for the express purpose of dividing the mainline denominations in order to undercut what used to be the moral authority of the National of Churches. The IRD has separate units attacking and dividing the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians, as well as we Methodists. Our official publications should not be giving more time and space to this subversive group, which has been preaching hate for 40 years.

    • Dear Frederick,

      I am afraid that you have your facts wrong. I would like to see you produce your “well documented” evidence.

      Good News was founded in 1967, with its first executive director being Rev. Charles Keysor. It is incorporated in the state of Illinois, so you can check that fact. IRD was founded in 1981, so it is not possible that Good News “got its start from the IRD.” Second, there is no documentation that the CIA is funding the IRD. Its current president, Mark Tooley, used to work for the CIA as an analyst (not a secret agent). Since 1994, Mark has been full-time with the IRD. You can check out the Good News and IRD 990 form reports that list their funding sources online. You’ll notice that the CIA is not on the list, nor is the IRD a funder for Good News.

      Good News has for 49 years been a voice for scriptural Christianity and a catalyst for renewal within The United Methodist Church. We have worked hard to keep the church united and to keep evangelicals within the UMC. Many have witnessed to us that, if it were not for Good News, they would have left the UMC long ago. Perhaps that is what you would have preferred.

      I would appreciate it if you would not spread false and slanderous information about Good News (or IRD for that matter). Go ahead and interact substantively with our viewpoint on issues, but please stick to the truth in your comments.

  8. Humberto says:

    Thanks for this clarifying article. I believe in biblical accountability expressed through the prophets in Scriptures and through the Methodist movement since its beginnings. I believe love holds us accountable to each other, and for Christians, our moral accountability comes from the Bible, which is understood to be the primary source of the quadrilateral (Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason).

  9. Bruce says:

    Throwing personal insults at each other is counterproductive.

    God created marriage (Genesis 2:22-24) and Jesus reaffirmed that “from the beginning of creation” marriage is between a man and a woman (Mark 10:6-8).

    Governments can legalize same sex marriage, but that is not the will of a Holy God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    • Paul says:

      Bruce, marriage being…? Many variations in marriages during the times that the books of the bible were written. We have accepted divorcees, those who committed adultery… Is one sin greater than another? Is it our place to judge the voracity of one specific sin which we might claim is mentioned in 7 of the many thousands of verses in scripture?

    • David says:

      Putting Genesis 2:21-25 (or for that matter, Deuteronomy 23:17 and Jude 1:6-7) in the category of anti-gay verses is nothing more than an attempt to beef up the number of verses that are supposedly “against” homosexuality. They have nothing to do with it.

  10. Kim Summers says:

    The author and this “good news” provide the perversions….not those in the LBGTQ community and those that support them. God is appalled and finds your interpretation of the Bible shameful. Your article is full of miss information and I am upset that UMNS uses it as a legitimate source.

  11. John says:

    I do not support this “agenda”! The United Methodist Church needs to move forward not backwards. The UMC needs to remain committed to a woman’s right to choose with her doctor, and #ItsTime for the UMC to accept same-sex couples as full members including in pastoral roles.

    • David says:

      John, you are clearly a man of God! We have accepted women do not have to remain silent and can hold leadership roles. #ItsTime it most definitely is time.

    • Yes, John and David it is well past the time that the UMC fully accept our LBGTQI sister and brothers. That means marriage equality and equality as clergy. If that person has graduated from seminary, their sexual orientation should not be a qualifier..

  12. Paul says:

    I have been a Methodist for 73 years, born a Methodist and hopefully will die a Methodist. If I wanted to belong to a faith that locks the door to change, I would have joined the Baptist church, although they are starting to stir. Using John Wesley through Jesus Christ as our guide, the Methodist church has always stood for what is right (What would Jesus do?) not what is law (What would the Pharisees do?). John was appalled by slavery when many other churches were using the Bible to validate their support for the institution of slavery and their treatment of slaves. John would be appalled the way we treat God’s children today, our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters. We should not use the Bible to justify our specialized brand of discrimination and try to make our own phobias into law even to the point of excluding those with beliefs other than yours from the faith. Shame!

    • David says:

      Amen brother.

      The following is a copy/paste of an article I read which gives permission for re-use if unaltered. It expresses the issue so well…

      Time and time again, Jesus made it clear that we should not put ourselves in the place of playing God and that, unlike far too many humans, God welcomes and loves us all equally. Period.

      But we keep doing it. We keep doing it even though each time after we argue, name-call, suppress others and fight for centuries, falsely playing the role of heavenly judge and jury, we slowly realize that we got it wrong. We realize that, in fact, Paul was not promoting slavery. We learn to contextualize his statements and letters. We become more skilled at interpreting the original Greek and, over time, we decide to stop quoting the Bible to support slavery (or the subjugation of women, or racism, etc.) because we finally come around to realizing that, as Rob Bell’s book points out, biblically love wins. Always.

      And so we find ourselves here again. Doing the thing we do best: misinterpreting the Bible and ruining lives with it. We are, once again, ignoring the biblical bias for those who are marginalized, abused, belittled and negatively judged. Ignoring the biblical directive to show all the children of God love (and grace… and forgiveness).

  13. George Nixon Shuler says:

    Rev. Lambrecht prevaricates and bears false witness when he writes the following:

    “…RCRC supports abortion as a means of birth control…RCRC supports abortion for gender selection… RCRC supports abortion for babies with potential or actual physical or mental disabilities…CRC even favors the gruesome late-term abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion….”

    RCRC does not “support” any of the above. It takes no position on any of the above. It believes these matters are to be the decisions of the woman alone and that they are none of our or his business. Late-term abortion are only performed to protect the woman or such things as to remove a fetus with no head. His mischaracterization and contempt for the women involved is most unfortunate and anyone can see his employment of political rhetoric in the service of his own advancement in such deplorable falsehoods.

    • Kelli Mize says:

      Look at RCRC’s website. Click on a link or two. Read some statements given by members of their board. The statements made by Rev. Lambrecht are not only true, but conservative.

    • Thank you, thank you, Mr. Shuler. As a retired RN who worked in the pre operative teaching field, i concur with your statement. Abortion is a medical procedure and must be between a woman and her doctor, not her clergy person, unless she wishes to speak with him/her, and certainly not the Rev. Lambrecht.

  14. Ruth KETCHUM says:

    The Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Jesus does not, in fact he didn’t say anything at all about it. But he did say to Love one another…” If you would actually read it, including those seven places, you will see it’s truth: the sin is in ignoring God, in the exclusion of one another, of mistreating one another or trying to condemn one another because we are all so different. Jesus preached against that, with passion and love, and showed us by example how to live for God and with one another. A rule in the Methodist Discipline that was placed there in 1972 does not reflect 2000 years of tradition, nor is it Biblical truth. For the first two centuries, and for many centuries in between, homosexual nature and love was not considered a sin by the Christian Church. You contradict what the Bible says when you pick out single verses and warp their meaning to your own intensions. I am a Methodist by choice, tradition and calling. Jesus came into my heart, and God filled my soul with love and light, as It happened for John Wesley. In the Methodist Church I have found grace, love, wisdom, intellectual challenge and a place to serve others. It is not up to a Bishop, the Discipline, or you to decide who gets in and who doesn’t. Who receives the full ministry of Christ and who is condemned and tossed out in the cold. Jesus said, “You who are without sin cast the first stone…” The Ethiopian eunuch asks “What is to prevent me from being Baptised….?” And Phillip baptisms him.
    I am a Methodist, and a Christian, and I believe in the Bible as truth.
    So this is what I ask you: why are people so afraid of homosexuality, and why do they hate us so much? What have we ever done to you that you treat us with such hatred and injustice?

    • Ruth, I am so sorry that you have felt such hatred. This is why the UMC is losing members, wonderful people, such as yourself and your loved ones will eschew a church where they are not fully accepted. My granddaughter considers herself to be queer, that is not conforming to being heterosexual or as some people state, she is non binary. Being such does not take away from the fact that this young person is intelligent, articulate and compassionate.
      If you are looking for an accepting church, try the UCC. Although, I am still on the membership rolls of the UMC, I attend a Open and Affirming/Reconciling, UCC.

  15. Patricia Bradley says:

    As a member of the African Methodist community of Methodism, I pray that you will stay the course of Biblical Apostolic faith.

    To the Fifeteen who announced they lied to be ordained, you have lied to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit as well as to the body of Christ which makes up the Methodist Communion . This divided house cannot stand.

    We must chose this day whom we will serve as for me and my house we will serve the Lord revealed in the Scriptures.

    To the fifteen who have revealed their lying to be ordained you have to give an account to God who died for us all. God loves you but will not be mocked or deceived. Read again in the book of Acts 5:1-11 about Ananias and Sapphira.

    Be Encouraged,Stand strong and preserve the Faith Good News Methodist and your affiliates.

    P.L. Bradley

  16. John Atoyo says:

    I am a Kenyan and a United Methodist. This issue of homosexuality is not yet a real issue in Africa. I see homosexuality as a starting point for a debate over the content of the Christian faith leading to accommodation of all cultural preferences. Then the Scriptures will cease to speak and cease to be authoritative. The UMC should continue to affirm now and forever that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Renewal Agenda for General Conference Thomas Lambrecht on the plans of the Renewal and Reform Coalition READ HERE: http://goodnewsmag.org/2016/04/renewal-agenda-for-general-conference/ […]

  2. […] “Roads and other infrastructure shortcomings make it much more difficult for African bishops to exercise adequate supervision and leadership,” Lambrecht wrote in the Renewal and Reform Coalition agenda. […]

  3. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or separation.” […]

  4. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or separation.” […]

  5. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination`s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or […]

  6. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or separation.” […]

  7. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or […]

  8. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or […]

  9. […] that would reverse or abandon our denomination’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a United Methodist minister and activist. “This is a recipe for schism or […]

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