Letters –– September/October 2012

Vicarious experience

Congratulations on your May/June 2012 issue of Good News. It was a magnificent combination of writing, organization, and photos to give those of us who could not be in attendance a vicarious experience of the exasperation and frustration at Tampa, plus a detailed report on the multitude of issues and those not reached for lack of time.

Thank you for this archive-quality report which I am retaining in my United Methodist file.

Ryman Herr
Lebanon, New Jersey

 

Trust and respect

I just finished reading your July/August issue. I think you make some accurate and good points in the editorial, “How to shut down a conversation.” Name-calling and labeling (homophobic) tend to destroy any attempts at dialogue that might otherwise include trust and respect. Without trust and respect, real understanding of another’s point of view is unlikely.

I consider myself a “reconciling pastor” with conservative evangelical clergy friends of deep faith and profound integrity. I also have liberal clergy friends of deep faith and profound integrity. And because I know this about them, it keeps the doors that lead to understanding open. I think if we give into questioning each other’s Christian commitments or “demonizing the opposition,” any hope of understanding and eventual healing is gone.

I appreciated Timothy Keller’s piece on “Old Testament law and the charge of inconsistency.” I think he understands the essence of the argument going on in the Christian world with regard to homosexual people. I don’t agree with his conclusions, but he does a serious and careful job of helping us understand his response to the issue of inconsistency.

For example, I suspect he believes that God inspired Paul to write what he did about homosexuality in Romans (as do most of your readers). I would say Paul inspired Paul to write it. These are two very different points of view. So let’s talk, maybe even do some holy conferencing. But if we name-call and label, as you point out, there will never be mutual understanding and respect. And without that, I am certain healing will never occur.

Mark Heiss
Mead and Platteville United Methodist Churches
Colorado

 

Justifiably intransigent

Just read Rob Renfroe’s piece in the latest issue on shutting down a conversation. I certainly agree with his assessment of the behavior of the “tolerance trinity.” However, let’s be honest: Neither do we bring to the “counseling session” anything that could help in reaching any kind of resolution to the conflict. We are (justifiably) intransigent on the only thing that will satisfy those with whom we disagree: We cannot accept the premise that same-sex intimacy is within God’s will for humanity. So, like the married couple who are faced with irreconcilable differences, let’s quit trying to find non-existent common ground and amicably separate.

Gary Ruff
via Facebook

 

Holy conferencing 
I write to commend and thank you for your frank, yet truthful coverage and assessment of our last General Conference. For all of our talk about “holy conferencing,” the behavior of some of our bishops and others was anything but holy conferencing.

I appreciate the call for those who disagree with our Discipline to find another church consistent with their beliefs. But I do not believe that will ever happen, as I believe they are bent on changing us, the majority.

I am waiting for someone in the renewal movements to finally state the obvious truth: As a church we have reached an irreconcilable impasse. The time for “conferencing” has passed, and it is time to agree to disagree and go our separate ways. As for the constant cry for unity, I do not understand the biblical concept of unity to be one of unity at all costs.

Voting down the attempt to end lifetime appointments for bishops was a mistake. Our church desperately needs a much higher level of accountability for bishops, especially accountability outside the Council of Bishops. Doing away with lifetime bishops and subjecting bishops to the accountability of an elected term as a bishop would be a good place to start. The radical positions some of our bishops have taken is evidence of their lack of accountability. I was surprised to learn that many other bodies of our church outside the U.S. do not have lifetime episcopal appointments. If we are “united” then why do we not all follow the same custom when it comes to elected terms for bishops? I think those brothers and sisters have it right when it comes to episcopal terms, and our election of lifetime bishops lacks appropriate accountability.

Thank you again for your excellent coverage and assessment of General Conference 2012.

Barry L. Baughman
Liberty Chapel UM Church 
Liberty Center, West Ohio

Ministry to all

The new look of the Good News is great. Of course I am more interested in the content, so especially like the new slogan, “Leading United Methodists to a Faithful Future.”

The volume and quality of your coverage concerning the aftermath of General Conference certainly gives a good picture of our current situation. In spite of the discouraging display of umbrage from many bishops, The United Methodist Church will likely never embrace non-Biblical sexual practices. Our responsibility now is to concentrate on how we can truly be in ministry to all people by following our Book of Discipline.

It will be difficult to lead from a majority position when so many of our bishops seem to oppose our ideals. But the problem of moral decline we see in the world today has got to be addressed. We need to help people understand that the path God laid out for us can and will lead to true fullness in life.

Michael A. Peters
Rockford, Illinois

Too long

I had a chance to read most of Good News and I want to comment on the outstanding article from Tom Lambrecht, “Time to move beyond the church protests.” Awesome! He is so right. Forty years is too long. Let’s stop the protests, stop wasting one another’s time and money.

Rob Renfroe’s article was excellent in the way he used the counseling analogy. The condescending attitude toward
African delegates expressed by Bishop Carcano was particularly offensive. So much for all her work on “church unity.”

I enjoyed the various quotes found in “What happened in Tampa?” The comments by the Rev. Jerry Paye-Manfloe Kulah from Liberia are more in line with the Christians I work with in Uganda. I celebrate with our African delegates for speaking up, speaking with God’s grace, and speaking for God’s Truth and for being elected to positions of authority in the UM Church.

The resolution by the New York Annual Conference demonstrates that the pro-homosexual agenda is their “gospel” and nothing else will be accepted.

I find myself moving closer to Andy Langford’s comments on withholding apportionments. One of the things I have learned over the last eight years is that the Progressives control the purse strings and the power, and the only thing that will get them to the table to talk (i.e., CTA) is decline in finances. Only when the UM Church was dealing with major financial shortfalls did leadership agree to sit down and talk about change. Even then the bishops were blatant in their grab for more power and control. And they wonder why there is so little trust? When I see the Council of Bishops putting more emphasis on “sticking together” rather than openly addressing the problems in the denomination, it tells me we don’t have any real leaders among our bishops.

Finally, the new look of the Good News magazine itself is very nice. Different fonts and color. Looks good.

Laverne Larson
New Hope & Retreat UM Churches
DeSoto, Wisconsin