Good News Response to Council of Bishops Statement

Good News, a renewal and reform ministry working within The United Methodist Church, applauds the statement issued today by the Council of Bishops in response to the same-sex union service performed by Bishop Melvin Talbert on October 26 in Birmingham, Alabama. We view the statement as an implied rebuke of Bishop Talbert’s actions.

The fact that the Council requested that complaints be filed against Bishop Talbert for both “conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions” and “behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor” is very significant. It is virtually unprecedented for a bishop to file a complaint against another bishop. (The Council as a whole is unable to file complaints, according to the Discipline.) We hope that Bishop Wenner and Bishop Wallace-Padgett will follow through prayerfully and promptly with the Council’s request to file complaints and initiate the judicial process.

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky

The church is watching to see if it can hold its leaders accountable to the promises they made to the church at their ordination and consecration. All eyes will be on Bishop Elaine Stanovsky (Mountain Sky Area), who is the president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, to ensure that any complaints are processed according to the Discipline. The judicial process will take time, and there is no guarantee of the final outcome, but this is the process we have of holding persons accountable when they are accused of violating the sacred trust of their ordination.

While we wish the statement would have called for Bishop Talbert’s resignation, we are pleased that the Council united to hold him accountable by criticizing his actions and initiating judicial processes against him. We affirm comments made by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner at a press conference following the meeting, where she said, “The bishops have to play a role in the [judicial] process … bishops have to follow through due to the charge we are given.”

We call upon other parts of the church to now fulfill their responsibilities of accountability. We further call upon all United Methodists to stand down from schismatic actions and honor the process of holy conferencing. Continued violation of ordination vows will only serve to deepen the division in Christ’s body and hasten a separation of the body that would harm the mission of the church.

Comments

  1. Perhaps the time has come to extend love modeled on the action of the father in Jesus’ parable of the The Father with Two Sons (a.k.a. The Prodigal Son) of Luke 15. Might it be possible for the Church to “let the dissenters go” in a grace-filled manner (as the father allowed the younger son to leave with his share of the inheritance)? Could it be possible to “release them” from their covenantal relationships with their respective annual conferences and offer some type of financial stipend to assist them with their transition? Are we willing to suggest they partner with other groups from other Protestant traditions that have expressed similar views on biblical authority and sexuality? Would this approach hold the possibility of “building up” the wider Kingdom, rather than “tearing down” or “devouring one another” as we have seemed to do for the past several decades? Can this type of option be discussed with serious consideration in our holy conferencing? If the current group of bishops and clergy who disagree with the Church’s doctrine and stance as found in the BOD feel as deeply conscience-bound as they profess, would not a loving departure grant all sides the option of acting in keeping with principled conscience? If the dissenting bishops and clergy insist upon changing the Church’s current Biblically faithful stance, would they be loving and gracious enough to offer a similar arrangement to those of us who have been dutifully obedient to Scripture and Church Law should we feel conscience-bound to depart? These are the types of questions around which holy conferencing should be structured, in my humble opinion.

    • I would agree with the notion that we should be able to depart from the community of faith we call the UMC, and that we should be able ask for our congregations, our buildings and our money to follow. I would have no problem letting those pastors, leaders and churches leave who are on the other side of the issue, along with their buildings, congegations and funds.

      It’s unfortunate, but at some point, it will be all about the money, I fear, and the seeking and saving of the lost will be brushed aside.

      I do not hate gays, lesbians, transgenders or anyone else. But I do not believe that I can pick and choose what parts of the Discipline I like to follow and don’t like by ignoring them, any more than I can pick and choose what parts of the Bible I believe and don’t. It’s an all or nothing proposition, isn’t it?

      • Bob Moulton says

        Well put, Dave. It is not a matter of hate, but one of faithfulness to the denomination and divine revelation. It comes down to a question of authority (though, as you say, any split will also involve money and property, probably with some bitterness). The Discipline is THE authority for United Methodist polity and practice/ We all accept that when we become members and all clergy reaffirm this upon ordination or commission. Further, the Bible is THE authority for ALL Christian living; the Discipline derives its its authority FROM Scripture and not merely from the democratic process of General Conference.
        We are not to just make up Methodism as we go along, responding to social, political and/or sentimental stimuli. Where the Bible specifically indicates un-Christian conduct and practice, the Disciple should reflect this and all members of the UM church are accountable to it.
        Disagreement and dissent are, of course, permitted within the Discipline – that is why we hold General Conferences quadrennially. But outright disobedience is not to be allowed. If a member or clergy-person can no longer in good conscience obey either Scripture or the Discipline, the honorable and decent thing to do is leave the denomination.
        Sadly, however this issue turns out, there is likely to be a mass defection from the UMC, as there has been from the Episcopal and PCUSA denominations. Sad because, apart from this issue, many of those who will leave bring valuable gifts to our church. Sad because we cannot seem to find a way to recognize sin and discourage it among ourselves while still extending grace and love to the sinner. But the fact is, we are ALL sinners daily seeking the grace and presence of the Spirit to become more holy. But this particular sin is a political ‘hot potato/ at this time (like so many before it). I would hate to see the UMC cave on it.

        • Bob, How right you are brother! I have watched with some interest, the churches who adhere to orthodox Christianity, breaking away from their mainline denominations, one by one. It’s somewhat sad; albeit a necessary action on their part in order to remain true to Christ. Unfortunately, liberal theology and apostasy has a stranglehold on some churches and personal sins are allowed to flourish. I’m not surprised their numbers are diminishing – people need to hear the Word and truth of God preached on Sunday mornings, not some feel good about yourself, “pie-in-the-sky” liberal theology.

          As for the UMC, I read somewhere online that it should be called The Untied Methodist Church because it is becoming undone. I agree the church will eventually split, but the Bible says believers should not be yoked with unbelievers, and I believe that also includes churches. Romans 1:18-32 is very applicable to the situation at hand regarding sin. I also believe we are fast approaching “end times” and ultimately Christ’s second return to take home His children. It’s all prophesied in the New Testament. We all have fallen short of the glory of God, but thanks be to God for His grace and mercy when we seek His forgiveness and turn from sin.

  2. I agree with the above comments but would go further. There have been many times in my career when a couple whose marriage is hurting came to me for help. The only problem was that it was clear from the moment they walked in the door that they were already divorced. They were still technically married and living together but as far as their relationship was concerned they were divorced. As a member of the Western Jurisdiction it has been clear for years now that this church is already divorced from one another. We still live together and we talk like we want to make up but the reality is, the truth is, that we have irreconcilable differences. The truth is that we will never be able to make up or get along. I wonder how long it will take in the church of Jesus Christ before the truth prevails?
    I have recently become acquainted with Anglican pastors who have left the Anglican Church in American to join the ACNA. In many cases they have left buildings and other assets on the table in order to do so, because to them the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more important. I would advocate that at the next general conference we agree to separate into at least two new denominations. Churches and clergy should be given a choice as to which discipline they wish to support, and then be able to leave with buildings and pensions etc. We will not be the same church that we were, but I think we will be more faithful to what we are called to be.

  3. The only problem I see with the filing of charges about Bishop Talbert is that they must be filed in the Western Jurisdiction. Isn’t that like putting a fox on trial for raiding the hen house and having a jury of all foxes?

  4. Lon Hudson says

    I agree with Steve and Ed. We have played at being one denomination long enough. Let’s be honest no one can bring such divisive views together. We are a human institution with a divine purpose. We are not divine ourselves. We are fallen sinful creatures. Each and every one of us was born selfish, self-centered and self indulgent. When there is no longer common ground, common views, common goals or common purpose divorce happens. Money is not the issue. Every liberal, progressive congregation that I am aware of, is deeply troubled financially.

    It is not about money. It is about Biblical interpretation

Leave a Reply to Wayne S Cancel reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy Policy
Refund Policy
Terms and Conditions