Clarification: In this space, Good News republished a widely-distributed email critique of the Wesleyan Covenant Association gathering in Chicago from a well-known denominational official in the North Central Jurisdiction.
“It’s ok to forward this email to friends and delegates of your choice,” read the email. In anticipation of its release, the official wrote: “I’d prefer to not get reactionary and hostile emails in response, if you can protect me from that.”
The email was sent to progressive activists around the denomination and was strategically forwarded to church members of a congregation associated with the WCA. Good News also received the forwarded email, and we assume other United Methodist news and opinion outlets did as well.
Among the observations (some peculiar) in the email:
• “No one looked poor. Khakis and button shirts mostly. Some suits, fewer polos.”
• “Submission to authority, whether Biblical or Spiritual, was a prominent theme. Songs included ‘On Christ the solid rock I stand’ and one with the lyric, ‘my one defense, my righteousness’”
• “The WCA rebrands the right-wing caucus group agenda as a centrist church…. they portrayed the left as a threat.”
• “If you don’t decode the language, little in the presentations is objectionable.”
• “Very disciplined message management was deployed. Presenters were using the same terms and were demonstrating a common approach to the intent of the meeting. No one drifted from the common message.”
• “They view themselves as martyrs for their beliefs. Their martyrdom indicates the depth of their faith.”
The writer of the email contacted our office to lodge a complaint about the posting of the text of the forwarded email on the Good News website. Although the email explicitly stated: “It’s ok to forward this email to friends and delegates of your choice,” the writer asked Good News to remove it from our website.
As a courtesy, Good News honored the request and removed the text of the controversial email for the past several months. We have posted this brief explanation in response to on-going questions about the forwarded email and our exchange.
For those curious about the various critiques of the WCA event in Chicago, please see the Rev. Walter Fenton’s tongue-in-cheek response HERE.