Editorial: One Church Acting Like Two

Rob Renfroe headshots 001

Renfroe

“If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two. If, in reality, we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one.” Those lines are part of the statement made by the Good News Board of Directors after its March 2014 meeting (see page 32).

It is becoming more difficult all the time to talk about The “United” Methodist Church. When an entire Jurisdiction votes to ignore parts of the Book of Discipline because they don’t like the UM Church’s position, it’s difficult to say we’re united. When bishops refuse to enforce the Discipline, after the Council publicly issued a promise that they would do so, it’s difficult to say we’re united. When 1,500 UM pastors have pledged to marry gay couples in defiance of the Discipline, when a UM district superintendent performs a gay marriage, and when a UM bishop approvingly attends a same-sex wedding performed by one of his clergypersons and there is no public outcry or concern expressed by the other bishops, it’s difficult to talk about The United Methodist Church being united.

The first week of April, 60 leading orthodox pastors and theologians from 30 Annual Conferences, representing all five Jurisdictions, joined a conference call to discuss the crisis facing the UM Church. Those on the call came together because of a new and heightened sense of crisis in the church, brought on by escalating disobedience and disregard for our ministerial covenant described in our Discipline. The group issued a statement (see page 27) acknowledging that the division within the UM Church is so deep that it is time to consider whether a formal separation is necessary. In that statement, the Rev. Tom Harrison is quoted as saying, “… the conflict has escalated to the point where one group is breaking the covenant which binds us together. A new path must be found.”

Where We Have Been. For more than 40 years the UM Church has been divided on the issue of homosexuality. In reality the division goes much deeper. Those of us who embrace orthodoxy believe that the Bible is “God-breathed,” fully inspired and authoritative in determining moral and spiritual truth. On the other hand, our progressive colleagues are becoming more open to publicly admit that at least parts of the Bible (the parts they disagree with) cannot be trusted to reveal the heart and mind of God and may be disregarded. But since General Conference does not vote on the inspiration of the Scriptures, our division presents itself as a difference on sexuality.

For more than four decades, this disagreement has been impassioned and emotional and hurtful to people on both sides of the divide. General Conference has consistently upheld the biblical truth that all persons possess sacred worth and should be treated that way, but that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching. And at the most recent General Conference, the margin affirming our biblical position increased.

In November 2011, the Council of Bishops issued a public statement that our bishops would uphold the Book of Discipline. This promise was made after being called to do so by a public letter signed by 70 leading pastors and a petition signed by 2,500 clergy and over 13,000 laypersons on the website faithfulumc.org.

That’s where we have been. Deeply divided and conflicted, but at least we had the hope that we could live together because our official UM position was a good one and our bishops said they were willing to enforce it.

Where We Are. Both the statement by the Good News Board of Directors and the statement issued by the 60 leading pastors were generated by the reality that recent events have dramatically changed where we are, diminishing the likelihood that we will be able to remain as one church.

Since General Conference 2012 and Bishop Talbert’s appeal for pastors to begin marrying gay couples, we have seen a growing number of services performed by UM clergy celebrating gay unions. Some are high profile cases like Frank Schaefer, Mel Talbert and Thomas Ogletree, but there have been dozens that have gone largely unreported.

Even more alarming, several bishops have decided not to honor the pledge to uphold the Discipline and they have found a way of not having to do so. And there seems to be no willingness by others on the Council to hold these disobedient bishops accountable.

In the past both Bishop Hagiya and Bishop McLee stated their disagreement with our position on homosexuality. When complaints were brought against pastors in their conferences for marrying gay couples, both bishops appointed individuals as counsel for the church who had also publicly made known their own disapproval of the church’s position. Yep, you read that correctly. Bishops who disagree with the church’s position appointed persons who reject the church’s position to represent the church and seek a just resolution for those who had violated the Book of Discipline. In the Pacific Northwest the two offending pastors were given a 24-hour suspension. In New York, the trial was dismissed with no penalty and with no admission of wrong-doing. In both instances the persons charged with representing the church did not consult those who filed the complaints to see if this resolution was satisfactory.

As difficult as it is to believe, the Discipline seems to give the counsel for the church the authority to determine and to enact whatever he or she believes to be a just resolution. Bottom line: there is now a methodology for never having another trial for a pastor who performs a gay wedding in conferences where a bishop finds such trials undesirable. And at least four bishops have publicly stated they will do as much as they can to avoid trials in the future.

Where are we? We are at a place where we are no longer simply divided by differing views regarding homosexuality, but now by our practice. In some annual conferences pastors are expected to follow the Discipline. In other conferences pastors are free to disobey the Discipline without any consequences. In fact, they now do so with the blessing of their bishops. We can be certain that the number of bishops who will no longer hold trials or uphold the Discipline will only grow. And the UM Church will have, in effect, two very different positions regarding homosexuality, with every bishop and pastor doing what is right in his or her own eyes.

Where Are We Headed? Those of us who embrace orthodoxy in the liberal parts of the country have already been affected negatively because the name “United Methodist” has become associated with a progressive sexual ethic. And those of us in more conservative areas will be affected in the future. Disobedience will increase. It’s only a matter of time until it comes to each of our annual conferences and our members become fully aware of what has been happening in The United Methodist Church. Even in some centrist and conservative annual conferences, the bishops disagree with our policies and cannot be counted upon to enforce the Discipline.

Over time, more and more of our members will not want their monies going to support a liberal denomination that lacks the integrity to live by its policies. They will not want their children raised in a church that has caved to the culture. And the decline of the UM Church will only become more rapid.

It is important to note that neither Good News nor the leading pastors are calling for redirecting apportionments or the separation of the church at this time. We are simply naming the reality of our divided church, noting that it is increasingly unlikely that we will be able to live together in one denomination, and stating options that are under consideration in finding a faithful way forward. Later this year, we hope that there will be concrete proposals put on the table for the larger church to consider.

Orthodox leaders who are willing to name our present situation as unacceptable and untenable are being attacked as undermining the unity of the church. Expect to hear “You troubler of Israel” (2 Kings 18:17) directed at those who will not be silent about the unfaithfulness of our leaders and the crisis we are facing.

But don’t be fooled. Those who are breaking the covenant that holds us together while loudly calling for more conversation have no real desire to hear our voices or consider our views. They wish to maintain the illusion of unity until enough orthodox United Methodists have walked away or died off, so that a liberal view of the Scriptures and a progressive sexual ethic become the rule.

Good News and the 60 leaders mentioned above will be condemned for disrupting the unity of the UM Church – in fact, we already have been. But unity without integrity is not unity. And a plea for unity by those who are destroying it is a ploy. Naming the present reality for what it is does not disrupt unity – it is essential if unity is ever to be achieved.

God once chided those who cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). And we will not be guilty of crying, “Unity, unity,” to hide the reality that if we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.

Rob Renfroe is president and publisher of Good News.

Comments

  1. Clif Mefford says

    Good News Magazine and Rob Renfroe,
    Why are we still talking? Apply the rules of the Disciple to a result that is “just”, not a shame, and apply that to all, including Bishops.

    Clif Mefford
    Katy UMC, Katy, Texas

    • And in case you are wondering what the Scriptures say about church discipline, here are a few: Mt 18:15-20, Ro 16:17-19, 1 Co 5:1-15, Ti 3:9-11. I have already asked my Bishop to invoke church discipline to remove the unrepentant evildoers from our midst in hopes that they will repent and return. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act, is to act.” The Bible says that homosexuality and those who sow discord among the brethren are both an abomination to Him (Le 18:22 and Pr 6:19). It’s time to worry more about whether or not we are offending God rather than whether or not we are offending the world. I would support a resolution requiring clergy to practice church discipline as prescribed in the Bible.

  2. warren dove says

    Praise God! You have presented the crises of the great divide with stark clarity. Even though I am now self retired from being a faithful local pastor and with great sorrow am teetering (praying it through) toward severing totally from the UM denomination, I still weep and lament that there seems to be no, not even one, American Bishop willing to stand and ‘fight the good fight of faith’. During my pastoral tenure I have personally witnessed droves of faithful Christians flee because of this ongoing heresy, which it is. I am so saddened and ashamed that the so called leadership has fallen this far from the obvious truths. God cannot and will not bless what He has never and will never bless. The SPLIT should have been made many, many years ago. Even so, Come Lord Jesus, come, for we have truly made a mess out of the Gospel by which we stand.

  3. theenemyhatesclarity says

    We are counting on you and the other renewal organizations for leadership. Do not use the old wine skins.

    In Christ,

    the enemy hates clarity

  4. Christian says

    I have been thinning for months about the best way forward and I pray daily for a amicable separation. However, I do not see that happening because everyone has become so content with our current state of affairs. In family systems, couples put off divorce because they often can’t imagine life without their frustrating marriage. So it is in the UMC. I do not even trust the renewal groups, like Good News and the CM, to get this done.
    I am wanting to press the issue. I am looking to speak to an attorney about what it could look like to press the organization into dissolution for not upholding their own bi-laws. Essentially stripping the UMC of any legal non-profit status for breach of contract, setting the clergy and churches free to move forward in new and different ways. I am reaching out to anyone with this as I wonder you know of people who would share my desires and support it, both with prayer and funds. Would you be willing to support such a measure? Just testing the waters with a few.

  5. Paul W. says

    The time for talk is pretty much over. More talk with leaders who do not keep their word (and are following a very different christ) accomplishes nothing. Our unfaithful UMC agencies, UMC leaders, and UMC news organization are definitely not standing still and continue to daily taunt and mock us with a seemingly endless stream of immoral, non-Christian, and even anti-Christian actions.

    Nothing is going to change until we stop pretending that everyone in the UMC is a Christian and start getting serious about following Christ. We are not honoring Christ when we pretend that unbelievers are redeemed. Those who are “following another gospel” are not Christians. Those who do not believe the essentials of the Christian faith are not Christians. The problem is much deeper than just different approaches to interpreting Scripture. The real problem is that we have a church full of unredeemed leaders many of whom are deceived and believe that they are true Christians. Is there any real possibility for renewal while non-Christians control the UMC hierarchy? This is the overarching issue that needs to be addressed from my perspective.

    You guys are our leaders. What are our marching orders?

    • AMEN. Christ cleaned out the Temple, so he is not opposed to taking care of the business of his church. And that business is dealing with Satan who has captured the souls of many of our leaders. All can be redeemed, but failing that, a separation MUST happen sooner rather than later. Otherwise, millions like me will depart sooner rather than later.

      General Conference 2016 is showdown time. There can be no compromising. The church either passes legislation to bring non-compliance back into full compliance OR legislation to begin the process of separation. There can be no legislation adopted causing or directing conferences and/or churches to decide which group they want to be in thus officially sanctioning the facade of united.

  6. As a follow up, my guess is that the pro-gay agenda progressives will attempt to build off the “agree to disagree” effort of 2012, their current super aggressive tactics, and push a “compromise” that makes official what is now being practiced in some of their jurisdictions. They will advocate for allowing conferences/churches to decide on their own their positions on the sexuality issue. Now that would take some fancy language to coherently write into the BOD, but they’re likely up to it and are working on it as this is written. With this effort, they will attempt to portray themselves as the tolerant, loving delegation in demonstrating their willingness to “compromise”, thus attempting to put the orthodox delegation on the defensive and as the intolerant, unloving ones. It is so past time for them to be allowed to seize the agenda and the conversation, and so time for the orthodox people to, instead, take control and prevent being maneuvered into compromising positions. NO COMPROMISING. Either the church passes legislation to force the enforcing of the BOD across the board by dismissing violators if necessary, or it proceeds to legislation for separation ASAP. It is my prayer that the orthodox Methodists are working even harder than their opponents on legislation for 2016 that will finally end this schism one way or the other. No more talk, ACTION is now the only alternative, and General Conference 2016 is where it must happen.

  7. There have been several articles similar to this one. The article ( I assume on page 27) is about Dr. Harrison of Asbury U.M.C, from Tulsa, OK and 60 others; making a strategy to be used at the GC of 2016. That was on April 5. 2014.

    Is there not enough communication going on so that many of these groups can be engaged and come to a common consensus about how to proceed to a unified conclusion? It appears to me that we are going to try to talk this into insignificance. Too many splinter groups will not be able to rectify the problem. It is imperative that we have communication, organization, and leadership for the common good of all like minded parties.

    I feel that the leadership heads of the renewal groups should begin promoting a central leader to this end. Then spread the news of the goals that need to be accomplished. It is common knowledge that we are 2 churches sharing the same space. The galvanizing Leadership needs to show up.

  8. I agree with your editorial. However, I think there are some serious issues that the leaders of the evangelical movement need to deal with. First, is public relations. I have a feeling that many, many UMC members do not have a clue about this controversy. That puts the evangelicals at a disadvantage. The progressives may depict the evangelicals as wild-eyed radicals who are disrupting the peace of the denomination. In the parlance of politics, it is important to “frame the debate” in such a way that the clueless will understand the issues. Second, I think there may be a constitutional crisis. By that I mean: can an amicable agreement be written that does not defy the UMC constitution? Is it constitutional to make a plan of dissolution? I honestly don’t know, but I bet the Judicial Council does. The third issue is practicality. I have tried to think through how a division of this denomination would work. What about the denomination in Africa, Europe, and other places outside the U.S.? How do you fairly divide a conference that is 90% evangelical, 5% progressive, and 5% undecided or reverse the order of the percentages? How do you deal with churches in small town where the minority essentially has nowhere to go? How do you deal with large institutions owned by the UMC (seminaries, missions, etc.)? What about camps and other smaller institutions owned by conferences? To develop a plan that is fair will be a huge undertaking indeed. How do you work through the development of the plan if there is constant sniping and attempts at public relations one-upmanship from each side? I know I am sounding pretty negative. I am simply naming some of the issues that I am sure the leadership has already discussed. I shall be praying for those in leadership positions. I agree the thing needs to be divided. I just see it as one big project.

    • Lynda K. says

      I may be looking at this naively, but it seems simple…those who refuse to honor the principles and constitution need to leave and start over. They are choosing to change their path, they are no longer adhering to the UMC…they are a new, unrecognizable group…not United Methodists.

  9. See thoughts of Bishop Coyner in article below. The “let conferences decide on a conference-by-conference basis” is on the way for consideration at General Conference 2016. No way. This must be stopped. Or, get on with the split. Accepting or condoning sin is no way to save a denomination, and certainly no way to serve God.

    http://unitedmethodistreporter.com/2014/05/09/wesleyan-wisdom-entering-time-endings-awaiting-new-dawn/

  10. Elizabeth Clark says

    Since the beginning of history in the Bible, man and woman, are to be together and are the basis for the church (we are the “bride” of Christ”)…..I am ashamed to admit that I was complacent and unawares that the “governing” bodies of our denomination were marching at a stealthy pace to change the definition of spouse and marriage until the press release hit the cover of Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website. My husband and I both contacted our pastor, who was ignorant of the press release and seemingly unconcerned. Thank goodness I have searched the umc.org website and stumbled upon Good News. We plan to speak publicly in our congregation and monetarily support Good News! Either the 2nd largest protestant denomination stands by the Book of Discipline or it does not! This is one area that should not be compromised. The Constitution of the United States protects us all to practice our faith and if a split in the United Methodist Church is what is required for each to practice same, so be it. My prayers are that God will provide us with the strength in voices necessary to see us through these tumultuous times.

  11. Good News,

    This is a thoughtful and welled presented update on the present state of affairs within the UM church. I appreciate your candor and objectivity. But, forgive my boldness…now what? If you are suggesting that our church wait until late this year to deal with some degree of concrete proposals on the future of the church, it will be much too little, much too late! This is not impatience, but rather a blunt assessment of the situation.
    Since the merger of the Methodist’s and the EUB’s in the late 60’s, there has been a growing division between the progressive element and the traditional element of the church. If we are paying attention to which denominations and churches within Protestantism are growing and which are dying, it’s apparent that only hope for evangelical Wesleyan theology resides in our ability to establish a strong traditional fragment of the UM church. If we allow this issue to cause us to limp along into 2015 or 2016, there will be little sense in a division. Perhaps our UM pastors and leadership are more concerned with pensions and property than with living within the truth and inerrancy of God’s word. We have reached a critical juncture, where continued physical and financial support of the UM church is akin to support of gay marriage and this agenda by our liberal leadership.
    Many years ago, the Good News movement chose to offer leadership to evangelical,, traditional members of the UM church…NOW is the time to LEAD!

  12. We have only been members of the methodist church 4 years, but are considering retracting are membership and sending our tithe elsewhere. We love our local church, but are greatly disturbed that the methodist church is making moves towards accepting homosexual lifestyles as acceptable under God. The bible is very clear on this. If the bishops or church as a whole do not take a stand soon, I fear there are more people like us who will stop tithing and leave the church all together. Take a stand leaders….don’t cower to those who ridicule your belief in the Word of God. I know you took an oath to defend the word…now stand firm.

    • Unlike you, I am a lifetime Methodist. I have been fortunate that this ugly thing has never presented itself openly in the local Methodists churches where I have been a member. Seriously, I first heard of this conflict in the mid-nineties, maybe twenty-five years into it. Local churches have done an outstanding job of blocking this from their local congregations, and I say that as a compliment. I seriously believe that there are significant numbers who to this day do not realize how this thing has been playing in their denomination. And, I believe that many, many local church pastors are praying that this it does not reach their doorsteps. Ministering to people with sexual issues is one thing, dealing with a congregation and all the politics of this thing is an entirely different thing. But, it is looking like it cannot be hidden much longer from the local folks. Perhaps the Bishops will be shocked into action when they start seeing millions of tithes walking away to other churches. And that’s exactly what’s on the way when this thing finally explodes.

    • Thank you for your comments, James. To you and others who may be in the same predicament, I encourage you to hang in there with your local congregation – they need you! I firmly believe that God will lead us out when the time is right; my sense is that the time is not yet come. Our faithful witness is more important now than it has ever been, and to leave before God calls us to do so is to miss a chance to see His power and glory at work. Courage, my brother; Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us!

  13. Lynda K. says

    Thank you, Rob, for standing on God’s Holy Word and therefore what is good and right. I support you 100% and pray your efforts are fruitful. May God continue to bless you and speak through you!

  14. Michael Berry says

    I am a orthodox Episcopalian. You are starting down the path we have trod. The revisionists in your Church will never stop until they win. They will freely ignore all discipline until they are in control and then when they can make the rules they will make them in their favor and enforce them with a rod of iron. Don’t let them con you into trading the Scriptures for false unity.

    You have my prayers.

  15. :It is important to note that neither Good News nor the leading pastors are calling for redirecting apportionments – See more at: https://goodnewsmag.org/2014/05/editorial-one-church-acting-like-two/#sthash.PW10rwrQ.dpuf

    But you should be. Stop supporting apostasy.

  16. I have just finished another letter to my Bishop. We must hold the leaders of the United Methodist Church accountable for letting this get so far out of hand. My pastor preaches from the Bible. He exhorts us to read our Bible. We must follow what God teaches. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ. If our church leaders won’t uphold the teachings of the Bible what are they doing in leadership roles. When a person chooses to join the United Methodist Church they are asked “Do you truly and earnestly repent of your sins?”. The congregation renews their vows and promise to be faithful to our church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service. We pledge to reject evil and repent of our sins, and we promise to help others do the same. We are about serving God. We must do this and if our leaders are not willing to lead us in this directions we need to get rid of the leaders. Our church does not need to split. We need to clean house!
    To the leaders who are practicing God’s will: Be Strong and Courageous!

    • Well said Julia! We need a good house cleaning. But, these bad apples are so entrenched in the NE and West Coast the UMC may be too weak to clean the house. In that case, a split would be the best. However, I have a feeling these false prophets don’t want to separate, but remain with us to see who else they can get to go over the edge and down the slippery slope. They don’t care that God will one day hand out real justice for his little lambs who were harmed. Get the broom!

  17. Be aware that if you leave, a congregation or annual conference that is, you will be leaving with nothing except the clothes on your back. The building, the funds, the hymnals, the banners, everything belongs to the UMC. Except for South Carolina and possibly Texas, this has been upheld in courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of state court decisions. This is why the progressives are so determined to stress “the unity” of the church. They want to make sure they keep all the money and property. So, if you want to leave, shake off the dust from your shoes and start over again in a new location, and never, ever again be part of a denomination that makes the church property be held in trust for the denomination.

  18. Monty Bell says

    We are on the right side. If there is a split, and I believe it iscoming, let us make sure that we keep our churches. I believe action is necessary now! We are way past articles and books and sermons. 40 years of struggle and winning and what do we have? Bishops, DS,s defying the Discipline and preachers being led astray.

  19. My heart rips as I hear these stories of UMC leaders disregarding God’s Word. But then too, it rips when I hear conversation of the faithful, planning ways to defeat them. Please UMC family, make your weapon in this war, prayer and fasting for God’s will to be released on our church. This is a fight only God’s Spirit can win. I am reminded of the parable in Matthew 13; 28 “An enemy did this, he replied. The servants asked him, Do you want us to go and pull them [weeds] up?” No, He answered, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” Christians can do a lot of damage when they take removal of evil into their own hands. I am sure Good News is covering all their actions in seeking God’s will. Thank you for your brave leadership.– however, we must never let down our cries for God’s Kingdom to reign. Leaving the UMC is just what the enemy would love. Please stay and form prayer teams who will stand in the gap and bring God’s blessing and power into the UMC., It appears to me the only offensive weapon we are called to use is God’s Word and prayer. (Ephesians 6:18) Before we do anything… plan any actions in our churches…before we abandon the UMC… before we come against any leaders….please, please pray and seek God’s instruction first.
    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but, against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.-Eph 6:12
    I have witnessed God’s victory when all I did was pray. My local city tried to bring in a gambling casino. Everyone thought it was a done deal. I rallied all my Christian friends and dedicated days to prayer and fasting. Praise God He fought that battle and it was defeated. There is nothing impossible for our God. Through Christ, His presence within us, we can ask the Father to revive the UMC-that the UMC would cherish His words–that we would love him like His bride-that we would seek His will over our own. That will come by the prayers of it’s people.

  20. Is there a way to hold onto church property by saying that the parent organization has violated its own rules and constitution, and therefore has forfeited rights to the property, and that the true church adherents should then be able to keep their property?

    In other words, there has been a coup at the top by leaders who are foreign to the organization, and therefore their decisions are invalid.

    Maybe a lawsuit should be initiated against some of the church leaders to bring them to their senses.
    Stop paying dues to the central leadership.

  21. Nancy Ellis says

    I have just finished reading a history of the Mitchell and Winton families from TN and MO. This family produced more Methodist ministers than any other but along with the Methodist Church was split over beliefs during the Civil War. The Methodist denomination split into two separate churches once before over strong beliefs held by members with different views. It took over a hundred years to reunited the two churches. Looking back it seems obvious that discrimination of a group of people was wrong.

    It seems Methodists have not learned much from their own church history – discrimination is wrong no matter what. Do Methodists truly believe what we are taught – that we are all one in the eyes of God?

  22. paul rocha says

    Is time to say is enouth, is impossible the union.

  23. Victor Galipi says

    Rob, thanks for a very insightful editorial.

    The core issue is disrespect of and disobedience to the Scriptures and their Author by many in our leadership who are twisting the Scriptures not only to their own destruction but to the destruction of our denomination and many of its members as well as those who seek God in our churches.

    Still, symptoms such as calling for and participating in defiance of the Discipline by performing same sex union ceremonies do need to be dealt with along with the real problem, just as the symptoms of a disease are treated along with the cause of that disease.

    “As difficult as it is to believe, the Discipline seems to give the counsel for the church the authority to determine and to enact whatever he or she believes to be a just resolution. Bottom line: there is now a methodology for never having another trial for a pastor who performs a gay wedding in conferences where a bishop finds such trials undesirable.”

    If this is true, then a top priority as General Conference 2016 draws near should be the creation of a resolution to change the Discipline so that disobedient bishops will not be allowed to choose disobedient counsel on behalf of disobedient clergy.

    It is also important that we do all we can to make sure every United Methodist knows about this problem and the symptoms. The light of truth exposes the darkness of evil.

    UM bishops and leaders involved in the “Love Prevails” progressive group are now calling for “divestment”, refusal to support TUMC, including financially. Whether they realize it or not, they have now lost the right to insist that we pay our apportionments because it is part of our covenant, since they have broken the covenant themselves. The General Finance Committee has even given approval to the distribution of benefits to the unmarried homosexual and heterosexual partners of General agency members.

    Of course, those churches who refuse to pay apportionments, or at least their pastors, will likely suffer some consequences, probably in the appointment process.

    But maybe it is time we quit worrying about our appointments, our pensions, and our property, and take a stand for what is right.

    Furthermore maybe it’s time we give our disobedient clergy and other leaders something to worry about, and hold them accountable in accordance with the Book of Discipline and most of all the Word of God. If there is no avenue for doing this, we need to create one, even if it means a change in our Discipline.

    Obedience to the Discipline is important. But important above all else is obedience to God and His word.

    Victor Galipi, Elder, North Carolina Conference

  24. I have found this debate very interesting over the years. First, I absolutely believe homosexuals belong in church just as the rest of us sinners do. And, just as the rest of us who sin, we need to let Jesus transform us into new creatures. “love the sinner, hate the sin” What I find interesting is the lack of discussion over sexual practices these same pro-gay, liberal folks would condemn in heterosexuals. Just for argument’s sake, let’s be a little outrageous. Pretend there’s a married woman in a typical UMC congregation who is conflicted about sexuality. She studies the Bible but she’s also keenly aware of American culture’s ideas about sex. After all, she goes to the grocery store all the time and reads headlines at the check stands. 🙂 On one hand, her goal is to be a devoted, faithful, loving, honorable Christian wife. On the other, society makes the goal of becoming the whore of Babylon desirable and intriguing. What is a girl to do? Oh my goodness, she has to make a choice. That’s right, we all make choices about how we choose to express our sexuality. Temptations abound for heterosexuals just as for folks who are not attracted to the opposite sex. No more double standards, please & thank you.

  25. Brothers and Sisters,

    I don’t know.

    I am new to the Methodist Church. I am a progressive.

    Does God support same sex marriage? Does God hold that marriage is only between and Man and a Woman? I don’t know.

    What about Tax deductions? Survivor Benefits? Spousal inheritances? Where is the clear word of God on these issues? Does God have a Facebook page? If so, and I haven’t found it and liked it, am I going to burn in the lake of fire?

    As I learn more about the United Methodist theology I’ll come to more clearly understand the 3 types of grace. As I study the three types of grace, however, I’m having a tough time finding the passage that tells me to damn to homosexuals and exclude them totally from a congregation.

    It seems like it’s going to evolve into local practices. Some uptight congregation in some uptight town in some uptight area might refuse to perform same sex marriages. A progressive congregation may decide to perform them.

    I don’t know.

    God could be a little harsh in the Old Testament. Jesus, on the other hand, seemed to focus more on inclusion as opposed to exclusion. I’m having a tough time seeing Jesus giving a sermon telling us to exclude homosexuals from our congregation. Would he say “I died for your sins, but not his. Echhh!”

    I don’t know.

    You folks that want to exclude gays and progressives from the United Methodist Church? About you, I know.

    I know you.

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