Orthodox Clergy and Theologians Seek a Way Forward in the UM Church’s Crisis

Dr. Harrison

Dr. Harrison

Sixty leading orthodox United Methodist pastors and theologians joined a conference call during the first week of April to discuss the deep divisions within The United Methodist Church. The consensus was that the present reality, where a growing number of United Methodist bishops are unwilling to enforce the Book of Discipline, is unacceptable and untenable. It was agreed that a small working group would develop proposals for all the group to consider and then present them to the wider church.

“Lyle Schaller’s 2004 book, The Ice Cube Is Melting, described a problem that still confronts The United Methodist Church today: two groups are locked in diametrically opposed positions,” said the Rev. Dr. Tom Harrison, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Since his book was published, the conflict has escalated to the point where one group is breaking the covenant which binds us together.  A new path must be found.”

Dr. Kyker

Dr. Kyker

Though the issues that brought the group together were divergent opinions within the church regarding sexuality and multiple acts of blatant disregard and disobedience of our Book of Discipline, those who spoke on the call indicated that the deeper and more important division within the church is significantly different understandings of the inspiration and authority of the Bible. “We believe that the Bible is God’s word – inspired by the Holy Spirit in its entirety and authoritative for determining what is spiritually and morally true. Many progressives see the Scriptures very differently, so much so that they accept some parts as coming from God and dismiss other parts as being uninspired – even flat out wrong,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles Kyker, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Hickory, North Carolina.

Rev. Wood

Rev. Wood

For more than 40 years there have been vigorous debates within the UM Church regarding its stand on human sexuality.  Those who are orthodox have engaged in and supported those debates and dialogs in order to arrive at our church’s doctrine and practice. “Our connectional covenant depends on obedience and faithfulness to the policies adopted by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. From bishops, to clergy, to boards and agencies, it is that covenant that makes us united and binds us together. When the covenant is not maintained and protected at any level of the church, we suffer from disunity and create a diffused witness to both the church and the world in which we live,” said the Rev. Steve Wood, pastor of Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.

MaxieDunnam_300-150x150

Dr. Dunnam

The working group is expected to consider a wide range of options to address the current situation, including proposals for local congregations that question the wisdom of funding a church that will not enforce its policies, potential legislation for the next General Conference, and continuing efforts to ensure compliance with the requirements of our existing Book of Discipline. Some pastors on the call asked the group to come back with a plan that would allow for the formation of two new denominations, one progressive and the other orthodox. “The heightened conflict within our denomination is hindering the ability of both progressive and orthodox United Methodists to pursue the mission of the church as they see it,” said the Rev. Dr. Maxie Dunnam, retired pastor, author, and seminary president. “We must resolve this conflict, so that we can focus wholeheartedly on the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

All who joined the call believe the church is in a time of unprecedented crisis and in need of strong leadership that exercises its authority in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Book of Discipline.

Comments

  1. I wrote a response to a previous article about untenable actions and requested that such a group would form and have a strategy to present for the GC of 2016. This article presents a step forward to that goal and leadership. AMEN

    • Mary Powell says

      Mary Powell of Georgetown, TX
      Continuing to keep these divisive issues alive over these many years (since 1970 here in Texas) has been extremely painful and costly for the United Methodist Church. People have left the UMC to join more openly orthodox or obviously progressive denominations. All parties have been deeply hurt by demonstrations, outcries, petitions, trials and the loss of integrity in those who defy the Book of Discipline over and over. Some have kept their progressive views and often lifestyles hidden until after their ordination and then expressed their “right” to protest and legislate this controversy into the ground. I have been privileged to attend two general conferences in my lifetime and was greatly disappointed about the amount of time, expense and effort that was put in by both sides of the orthodox and progressive parties of the UMC. I was extremely hurt by how painful the discussions became. As a result the Conferences lost valuable time to be focused on the most important issue of the Great Commission. I have always felt that our society today puts way too much emphasis on sexuality of all kinds, hence the lack of quality in motion pictures and television series available for healthy enjoyment. Society needs to hear all voices clearly speaking to both stances. Our church would be served best by facing with honesty and integrity the need to let all United Methodists choose their individual place to be in ministry based on what their conscience and theology are leading them to live out before the world. There has been too much rancor between those who want to move on and those who won’t budge until everyone agrees with their opinion only. Let’s stop lying to each other and ourselves and the world. Yes, dividing will be painful, but we can demonstrate that it will end once and for all with a painful but honest division along lines of truth and integrity. Then we will have no more rancor over that issue again at conferences around the world, so we can get on with the eternal question of how lovingly we are building God’s kingdom here and how. We can still choose to support other justice and mercy issues together such as “Nothing but Nets,” etc., with more funds, time and energy to do God’s work in the future.

  2. Bible Centered VS Christ Centered says

    I can appreciate the efforts coming from this group. However, will this group invite those who are labeled in this article “progressive” a place at the table to discuss “options?” Perhaps this could be the holy conferencing that the church needs.

    Instead of labeling “progressive” and “orthodox” methodist churches, I recommend the labeling “Bible-Centered (Orthodox) and Christ-Centered (progressive). This would make it easier for world (non-churched folk) to understand the difference. The Bible-Centered folk appear to be a people who worship the Bible and the Christ-centered folk appear to be people who worship the message of Christ. I’m not trying to be cynical, but practical in what I have experienced as a millennial UMC clergy. My contemporaries , who are churched and non-churched, view it this way.
    Thankful that a group is willing to spearhead options so that we can focus on our mission of joining God in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in both camps.

    • You either believe in Christ and all he teaches or not says

      This is the most insane discussion that I have ever seen. You can’t just decide which parts of the bible you don’t like. The Bible is an essential and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. It leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Being given by God, the Scriptures are both fully and verbally inspired by God. Therefore, as originally given, the Bible is free of error in all it teaches. Saying that people are worshipping the bible for believing that is true, is like saying that Jesus was a good teacher, just not the Son of God. He is the great I Am, or a crazy man. You can’t have it both ways. You are a Christian and believe in the divine word of God, or not. There is no middle ground, It is just that simple.

    • How can one possibly separate “The Bible” & “Jesus” into two separate camps?

      • Robert Moulton says

        My understanding of this ‘separation’ is that there is a school of (liberal) theology that emerged in the early part of the last century based on ‘textual criticism’. Taken to its extreme, it casts doubt on the authenticity of some sections of the Bible or the nature of its ‘inspiration’. Genesis 1, for instance is viewed as a creation ‘myth’ handed down through oral tradition and not to be taken literally. Indeed, most of Genesis is considered apocryphal at best. As a ‘morality play’,the book of Job is not seen as being inspired in the same way as, say, the gospels. The inspiration of all of Paul’s letters is doubted or dismissed altogether and some view them as borderline heretical.
        As a result, these progressives are left with the gospels, Acts, a few of the epistles and Psalms upon which to base their system of belief. Now, one can certainly come to a saving knowledge of Christ with even less than this, but such a theology lacks the larger Biblical framework. There are some topics about which Jesus did not speak directly — homosexuality being one (though He DID speak directly about divorce in the Sermon on the Mount, and those words have been completely ignored). By denying us much of that framework, textual criticism has left us ‘free’ to consider such issues at the social, rather than moral level and make up our own minds about them without any pesky directives from God.
        So… the distinction between Bible-centered and Christ-centered is probably accurate, though I suspect it would be confusing to those outside the Church and completely uneducated about the evolution of theloogy.

        • The distinctions must be Bible-centered and New Testament-centered, as we are, or should be all, Christ-centered, as Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.”

    • Alas, I feel this labeling is inaccurate, and frankly offensive to those of us who hold an Orthodox view. It implies that those who hold scripture as the primary teaching resource of the faith (given to us by God) do not place Christ at the center of their faith, and further implies that the Orthodox group worships a book instead of God, a not so subtle suggestion of idolatry. The Bible is, after all, about Christ, from the birth of his people and their trials; the prophesies of his coming; his birth, life, death, and resurrection; and the prophesy of his second coming. The Bible teaches us what God wants us to know; it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and states that “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19; see also Deut. 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6). The difference isn’t that one side worships the Bible and one worships Christ; it is that one side takes these kinds of revelations very seriously and one does not believe them to be accurate or from God. There is a very large divide in terms of one of the very basic tenants of the faith: the role of scripture. I don’t think there is going to be any compromise on this issue because it is one of the central pieces of the faith; it is not something minor, as in agree on the majors and disagree on the minors.

    • PhilinAZ says

      I wonder if the Christ-Centered churches would use an abridged red-letter Bible, containing only selected portions of Matthew, Mark & Luke that show the devinely inspired words containing no writer bias. I find your insight fascinating when you state progressives appear to be people who worship the message of Christ–not the risen Christ Himself. Worth pondering awhile.

    • The labels “orthodox” and “progressive” are much more helpful. These are labels that churched and unchurched people of all generations understand. Your proposal that the two parties be labeled “Bible-centered and “Christ-centered” is impossible since both orthodox UMs and progressives will argue that they are both Bible-centered and Christ-centered.

      Your post sounds sincere, but I want to warn you that it is terribly insulting to suggest that orthodox Christians worship the Bible.

      It is also inaccurate to suggest that millenial Christians are progressives. In fact, data from the General Social Survey suggest that the percentage of the American millenial population self-identifying as evangelical is growing. http://goo.gl/kZcmve In addition, the same data suggest that progressive churches are dying while evangelical churches are growing tremendously. http://goo.gl/eFl7zt

      Finally, a place at the table has always been granted to progressives at General Conference. Furthermore, progressives form their own caucuses to discuss how to promote the progressive agenda in the UMC. Consider for example the MFSA “where Progressive United Methodists connect with one another and turn their faith into action.” What is being discussed here is a much needed caucus and discussion for orthodox United Methodists. How will we preserve the theology and polity already present in the Book of Discipline. Inviting progressives to that discussion makes no sense since they would not agree with the presuppositions upon which the conversation is based.

      • Robert in NH says

        I prefer ‘orthodox’ and ‘progressive’ too as being the more accurate, though I have taken some space to explain why this alternative is suggested (see reply to Marj,above).
        No, we certainly do NOT worship the Bible. But the Bible is our primary, objective resource for learning about Him and the whole context and nature of the salvation which He offers. If the whole Bible is not inspired, there are HUGE gaps in our Christology.

    • Catherine says

      You sir are a pompous self righteous liberal progressive using loaded dialogue to make yourself feel better.

    • Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans says

      Dear “Bible Centered VS Christ Centered”

      Apparently they let anyone become “clergy” these days.

      Definitional of a millennial: a person who understood nothing until there was nothing left to understand.

      Your statement is basically an insult (weather or not it was intentional). To people like us who use the Bible’s inspired word of God as our moral anchor and guide…The Bible IS Christ (blow the dust off your Bible and See John 1:1).

      But that’s ok…you just take the blue pill and believe whatever it is you want to believe.

      When the Methodists in Africa are calling North America “the dark continent” you KNOW you have hit rock bottom.

      “There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names.
      An’ he decides who to free and who to blame.
      Everybody won’t be treated all the same.
      There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down.
      When the man comes around.” ~ Johnny Cash

    • linda hagan says

      As a retired local pastor I completely agree with this discussion so aptly named “insane”. The belief that the Holy Bible is a “burger king” book, that is, take what you like and leave the remainer, is as far from Christ Jesus as one would care to be! I pray for our churches, for those dedicated to serve Christ as pastors, for the majority of our parishoners who want so desperately to hear from God’s word and are being given stories from who knows who printed off the internet, hold fast for there remains a remnant. Remembering that scripture tells us not to lean on our own understanding…. oh, that’s right, I forgot the Bible is full of errors, therefore man has become smarter than God. NOT!!

    • ultramanat says

      with this kind of dichotomy, it gives no provision for a person to be bible centered and Christ centered at the same time. Is not the fundamental teachings of Christ found in the scriptures…if not, then where else..

    • Sue West says

      Excuse me? Worshipping the Bible or Christ? I worship the God, Who authored the Bible! What part of the man lying with man, etc. is an abomination to God, do you not understand? I have told my congregation repeatedly, we cannot and must not choose pages from the Bible with which we disagree and rip them out. The world has infiltrated the Church. What was always wrong, not just biblically or spiritually, but also to the world is now right? Next, I suppose you will say abortion is the right of a woman to kill her child if she so chooses. What about the right to choose before the pregnancy? Next, you will argue that a pedophile if a child of God and therefor has rights. Where will it end?
      God understands our sins, but He will never condone them. You will have to choose to hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant” or “I never knew you”. Woe to anyone who spreads anything other than Word of God to the lost.

  3. Recent developments have put on the defensive those of us who believe Scripture reveals homosexual practice to be sinful (and therefore harmful). I believe we need to be able to formulate policies and practices that will guide the church in loving, life-giving ministry to people affected by these practices as well as to formulate wise, faithful guidelines of how to live in the current cultural situation. We also need to be able to focus on making disciples for Jesus. However, we are being subject to the tyranny of crises, a tyranny that refuses to allow leaders to develop wise, Biblical policies. These crises are dictated by the faction within our denomination that is determined to reverse the policies of the Discipline. This faction has made clear that, until its goal is achieved, it will not stop creating crisis after crisis that challenges the willingness of church to discipline its membership. This denomination will not be an effective, faithful, life-giving movement as long as it is being crushed by this tyranny of crises. The situation cries out for the evangelical/conservative majority to extricate itself from the “progressive” minority and from this tyranny of crises. I pray that wise leaders will be led by God to bring this about.

  4. Rev. James T. Smith says

    I always tremble when some S.P.S.S. (self-proclaimed superior souls) committee launches out into the deep. I still say there are only TWO options. Jesus said clearly. IF you are not for me, you are against me. NO SOCIOLOGICAL variables. No book sellers, no frustrated church lawyers. Total YES or NO men and women. RIGHT, or WRONG. How do you STUDY that? How can you even CONSIDER studying that? You don’t change the organization or institution to fit people who disagree with it; you change the people to agree with the organization, should you finally discover that it IS right.

  5. While I truly appreciate the spiritual sincerity of this group of UM leadership, I have to pose the following question: What do you suggest as a basis for discussing/examining/conferencing on the future of the UM church? It seems that we have, not only a divided leadership, clergy and laity, but we lack the ability to establish a common platform from which to examine our future. One group holds that changes in society should be reflected in the church, even if those needed changes would lead to disregarding of scripture or modifying the discipline. The other group holds firm to the tradition and discipline of the church, while insisting that scripture is inerrant and should be the ultimate litmus test. I wholly support and understand that the Spirit can intervene in all matters of men, including church schisms. Nonetheless, as a point of spiritual integrity and honesty, from what point do we start? Some hold to discipline and tradition, while others believe solely in the necessity of adhering to the changing convictions and belief systems of modern society. Some cast a wary eye on a collection of spiritual stories and tales, while others see the same collection as the bedrock of their spiritual lives. If we can’t agree on where we are departing from, how are we proposing to get anywhere? This division is not repairable nor is it able to be politicized into a mutually acceptable “Statement of Unity.” When we lack church tradition, the UM discipline and Holy Scripture as a base line from which to begin our engagement, we have already broken fellowship.

    • I would like to remain United Methodist in the sense you give in your final sentence. Unfortunately, I am beginning to seriously question whether that is possible in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. I continue to do my very best to be the pastor that I promised to be at my ordination. The annual conference continues to provide me opportunity to serve as the pastor of a local church and assures that I receive pay and benefits. However, the majority of local churches to which I may be appointed are almost all progressive and the leadership of the conference is progressive. There is even now a survey being conducted in the NE Jurisdiction called The Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church Study Committee Survey which is a thinly veiled attempt to gather data to support freeing the NE Jurisdiction from the influence of the increasingly orthodox global United Methodist Church by creating different Books of Discipline for different regions, etc. What do I do? Do I continue to be a part of this church? When do I leave? Do I speak out against progressive influences? I get excited when I hear about a possible formal division into two churches. But, when I think about whether that is really practically possible… that is a different story. The Wesleyan Church looks good.

      • Robert in NH says

        This article has weighed heavily on my mind and heart more than most on this subject. Possibly because our church is also in the NE Jurisdiction. We discussed it briefly in our S/PRC meeting this evening,
        To quote from the article: “Some pastors on the call asked the group to come back with a plan that would allow for the formation of two new denominations, one progressive and the other orthodox.”
        If our jurisdiction is successful, it would obviate the need for such a plan. The ‘United’ Methodist Church would cease to be united even in name and become a sort of Baskin-Robbins Methodism, where each region chooses its own flavor. I fear, that before either plan could be implemented, there would be much ‘blood in the streets’. We cannot even seem to begin a discussion of the issues even here without vitriolic and derogatory comments. What wounds will an outright split cause? What angry battles would be fought, not over theological differences, but over control of property and financial assets?
        The Book of Discipline comes up for review by democratic process at General Conference every 4 years and all opinions are given a hearing. I suspect that one reason the GC has been so conservative in this area is that, if the ‘progressive’ view were to be incorporated, there would be mass defections from the denomination across most of America where the UMC remains orthodox. Certainly my family and my church would depart.
        What saddens me most is that, when this issue finally comes to a head, there will be NO winners. The witness of both sides will be compromised. The world will be confirmed in its opinion that we do not live the love of God that we profess and cannot even manage to keep our own house in order, much less offer solutions to anyone else.
        Only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on BOTH sides can truly resolve this conflict. Please, brothers and sisters, pray with me to this end.

  6. I’d like us to stop focusing on this sin or that sin being less or more & remember that sin is sin. Sin is “separation from God.” It’s kind of like the WWJD movement–if you can do, say, be whatever it is you’re doing, saying, being with Christ at your side, you’re probably not engaging in sin. To live in Christ means to remain in spiritual oneness with Him, and this means that no sin should come between us. Repentance means to turn away from that sin. Another definition of sin which helps me is God telling me, “anything that is different from my original intention for you is sin.”

  7. If I believe in Jesus Christ, then I must believe in what he said and taught. He clearly and unequivocally defined marriage at Matthew 19:4-6. Of course he was responding to a question on divorce there, but he defined marriage by affirming God’s created order for marriage as that between a man and a woman before condemning divorce. Progressives are always quick to point out that Matthew 19:4-6 must be read in its context, measured against the overall teachings of Jesus, looked at from a scientific perspective, and viewed from the historic evolving understanding of human sexuality. In studying all of the teachings of Jesus, including the Greatest Commandment, and in all their contexts, there is nothing that can be legitimately used to negate his definition of marriage. Fast forward 2,000 years, I am unable to find any argument that modern man has put forth that changes or modifies what Jesus said, what Jesus meant. If I bought into that rationale, then everything that Jesus taught and said is up for question. Therefore, if I believe in Jesus Christ, then I must believe in what he said and taught. What he said is eternal.

    • Dr. David Mangham says

      Regarding Jesus discussion on marriage: IF we accept Jesus IS God, Jesus IS divine, then we must accept that nothing Jesus says is “wrong” or “in error” and that Jesus recorded words are never “immaterial”. Whatever the discussion, whatever Jesus says, is accurate, is intentional, and is never “off the cuff”. ERGO when discussing marriage Jesus used words (no matter what the translation) that are 1-male and 2-female. Jesus did NOT use male/ male or female/female terminology. And Jesus did NOT use terms which could be “translated” in any other way than in the understanding of a male and a female. So while Jesus did not speak concerning homosexuality, Jesus, when he spoke of marriage, only use male and female terms. ERGO to me, this is the defining understanding of the “Christian” understanding of the issue of marriage. No other “passage” of Scripture need be “understood” nor is there to be any other possible discussion of the “intention” of Scripture.
      At the same time, in our American culture, it is understandable that a “sinful” culture, can and must follow “legal” understandings of equality, and probably will and justifiably so, within a non Godly culture, accept “gay marriage” as a right. As a Christian I probably cannot impose my theology on a non Christian world, so if that non-Christian world chooses to accept non-Biblical ideas to be truth – i.e., gay marriage, then I have no reason to deny the “non Christian” world the right to choose a non-Biblical understanding of how they choose to live out life. As a Christian, however, it is absolutely imperative that I accept and follow Biblical understanding – specifically direct teaching of Jesus Christ, in my life, AND it must be so accepted and followed in the Body of Christ, the Church, IF that Church chooses to be in the body of Christ and following the teachings of Christ.

  8. An Apology from Bible Centered VS Christ Centered says

    Dear brothers and sister in Christ,
    I deeply apologize for offending the readers of this blog with my labeling. This was not my intention to offend. After reading my first post, I realized I should have explained more of what I meant which caused a lot of discourse. I deeply apologize for not explaining myself more. I understand why the labels that I presented were hurtful. I don’t have time to articulate well my thoughts on this more, but more importantly I want to apologize.

    However, I must say that I’m surprised and sadden by the comments to my original post:

    “You sir are a pompous self righteous liberal progressive using loaded dialogue to make yourself feel better.” –Catherine

    “Apparently they let anyone become “clergy” these days.” –Chingachgook

    “you just take the blue pill and believe whatever it is you want to believe.” – Chingachgook (Did you really mean to say blue pill? I understand that to be something that I don’t think it’s appropriate to state here).

    Perhaps I deserve these hurtful comments because I hurt those who read my careless written post on labels. Again I deeply apologize.

    Last week I was at http://www.ginghamsburg.org for a church conference and it was great to witness dialogue from both camps in what I experienced as “holy conferencing.” Adam Hamilton, Michael Slaughter, Diana Butler Bass, and Rachel Evans provided a safe place for dialogue about the church. Rachel Evans, who is a millennial, offered us great wisdom in reaching millennials for the sake of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I was moved and touched at their heart felt Christian faith journey’s. I was even surprised that some of the speakers were orthodox in their view of Scripture, aka, Adam Hamilton.
    As far as understanding millennials, I encourage you to also look at http://www.barna.org. They have some interesting information that can help us as we seek to join God in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

    I have heard Rob Renfroe speak and believe he has the skills to be able to do holy conferencing with progressive folk. So, I still encourage a joint meeting to encourage holy conferencing for the sake of God’s work in the United Methodist Church.
    I hear the passion and love of God in this blog. I appreciate this so much. It is my earnest prayer that we can avoid talking past one another and hear the intent that each of us brings to the table for the sake of the Kingdom.

    • BC VS CC,
      I appreciate and value your comment and the spirit with which it is offered. May the Holy Spirit always provide us with insight into ourselves and those we travel alongside.
      While I am not attempting to make excuses or provide “holy cover” for remarks by others, please understand that many on the traditional side of the UM church are tired and spent after decades of watching our church doctrinally espouse spiritual positions, while turning a blind eye when some choose to ignore or disregard those same positions. Should this current issue lead us apart, please know that the schism is not simply laid at the feet of same-gender marriage; rather, our UM leadership (bishops) has irreversibly damaged their holy trust and has left traditional, scripture believing UM’s with no recourse. Good News and other agents have held forth our vision of Wesleyan-based Christianity with precious little support from our UM leaders.
      We must now conduct conferencing to seek clarity and God’s will; seeking His will with those who cast doubt on the veracity of His word would make little sense. May God bless you on your path.

  9. John Donaldson says

    Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go” (1 Samuel 16:16)

  10. Question about the Connectional Table gathering says

    Dear Rob and Tom,
    I read today about the Connectional Table’s activity in discerning human sexuality. I wondered if you knew if any of the 60, who met earlier to form a plan to divide the UMC, were part of the Connectional Table’s holy conferencing on this matter? From the writings and posts that I have read from various sources, do you think our brothers and sister from the central conferences would approve legislation to divide the church at General Conference? Do you know if this dialogue is occurring in the central conferences to divide? or is this a USA matter? My concern is that if this discussion is only occurring in the USA, will the central conference’s delegation even consider a split at GC 2016? I hope conversation is occurring outside the USA, otherwise all this effort may not have any impact in the voting at GC 2016 and the global church is again left in a state of tension and we will not have moved on in this matter and we will be left distracted from our core mission of joining God in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
    http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/United-Methodist-body-considers-change-to-sexuality-stance

    • Liinda Pliska says

      Ruminations about our Great and Faithful Calling as the UMC::
      Not long ago I was introduced by a clergy firiend to another, “this is Linda. She still believes in the Bible.” It was not a compliment, but a statement of exasperation. I smiled. How little we understand about the holiness and majesty and power of our historical God, who reveals himself to us through Scripture and the Christian Community at large.
      We are a world wide church, and the discussion over sexuality and abortion seems to me to be centered in the US. We have lived and worked and worshiped for many years in Germany, and the topics of sexuality and abortion were never brought to the fore. But if you want to have a discussion on the importance of Baptism, and the meaning and theology of that, let the flood gates down.
      Behind the words of many comments, in this post, I hear idea that Methodists who believe in the Holy Word of God are perhaps in the minority in the US. I would seriously question that idea. If one tests the grass roots membership, where do you think we would come out.
      Third, when we were ordained we pledged to follow the order of the UMC. and the Discipline. That means all or nothing to me. I understand that there is a grandual loosening in pastors accepting the appointments they are given in ever more growing numbers.
      Fourth, when church leaders do not enforce the Discipline, how can there be any order?
      Fifth, when groups say that “Holy Conferencing is Over” and they will disrupt whatever process they can in the church until they are recognized, how should this kind of overt declaration be dealt with by the UMC at large.
      We have worked with internatiional UMC pastors and lay people, and this really seems to be a US discussion to me. Are we a world wide church in name only, thinking our American issues of understanding God’s wishes in the areas of sexuality and abortion deserve the major focus of the whole churches energies, or is God calling us to a larger task of submission to God’s Holy Word and service as we have pledged in our ordiantion and membership vows. John Weslley is probably rolling over in his grave….or maybe he is just heading to his electrostatic generator that he invented, to give us a jolt back to reality- to the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ to have us go and make disciples in all the world. and preach the world of the Gospel.
      I have no idea how to deal with our American issue, and not give justice to United Methodists throughout the world who are not focused on these issues. Somehow I think I heard the Pope speak these words to Roman Catholics about a month ago!

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