Progressive Coalition Responds to African Bishops

RMNBy Walter Fenton-

“We must insist that peace is not going to come through ignoring the demands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians for full inclusion in the church,” declared a statement from a United Methodist coalition of activists from progressive, LGBTQ, and ethnic caucuses. The letter was written in response to a previous statement issued by United Methodist bishops from Africa.

In their September 2015 statement, the African bishops expressed that they were “deeply saddened that the Holy Bible, our primary authority for faith and the practice of Christian living, and ourBook of Discipline are being grossly ignored by some members and leaders of our Church in favor of social and cultural practices that have no scriptural basis for acceptance in Christian worship and conduct. Yet they continue to attempt to persuade members of the Church to incorporate these practices as an accepted code of conduct within global United Methodism.”

The response from progressives was issued earlier this year by the Love Your Neighbor Coalition – which includes groups such as Reconciling Ministries Network, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Love Prevails, and the ethnic caucuses representing African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.

The progressive statement articulates differences with the African bishops.

* “We will not heal our church’s divisions by ignoring the need for women to have control over the reproductive capacities of their own bodies through the use of family planning tools such as birth control and abortion.”

* “We insist that the final word has not been spoken about the teachings of Scripture on human sexuality.”

* “We consequently contend that the Book of Discipline’s claim that ‘sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant bond of a faithful, monogamous, heterosexual marriage’ creates a moral dilemma in United Methodism. A dilemma, because faithful United Methodists believe this pronouncement and subsequent church policies and practices to be unjust….”

For their part, the Africa College of Bishops affirms a traditionalist view of marriage. “We submit to the teachings of Scripture that God designed marriage to be between man and woman, and the procreation of children is a blessing from God,” the bishops’ statement said. It was signed by all active bishops and one retired bishop in Africa.

“The Christian marriage covenant is holy, sacred, and consecrated by God and is expressed in shared fidelity between one man and one woman for life. In this vein, we denounce all forms of sexual exploitation, including fornication, adultery, sexual commercialization, slavery, abuse, polygamy, etc.”

Currently, there are 7.2 million UM members in the United States and 4.8 million United Methodists in Africa.

The statements reflecting the polarized perspectives highlight the division that will be present when The United Methodist Church gathers in May for its 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Members of the progressive coalition have submitted dozens of petitions to dramatically overturn United Methodism’s current stand on marriage and sexuality.

African Bishops statement click HERE

Love Your Neighbor Coalition statement click HERE

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and an analyst for Good News.



  1. Licensed Local Pastor says

    It is painfully apparent that the progressive’s in the United Methodist Church will not let there be any peace or unity until they get their way. There declaration that they do not want schism is clearly overridden and obliterated by their declaration that their will be no peace in the denomination until they get there way. This is ridiculous!!! Make no mistake a schism is inevitable. It is almost to a point where members of the current denomination will have to say, “I would rather stand with God and be judged by the United Methodist Church, than stand with the United Methodist Church and be judged by God.”

  2. Blasphemy!!! That’s the description of these statements from the progressives. Just who do they believe has the final word on human sexuality if not God? If God does not have the final word on this issue, then what other issues does he not have the final word on? This is the most incredible assertion that progressives have made to date — absolutely unreal coming from people who claim to believe in God.

  3. The progressives speak of Love as if it means giving in. Do we give in to children who want to jump off a cliff because it looks fun and call that Love or teach them the truth because we actually Love them and don’t want to see them perish? If clergy, teachers, etc. fail to teach what God has established then they will be accountable to the Master for the blood of the ones they have kept the WHOLE truth from. Make no mistake, sin is sin no matter what you believe. The Grace of God comes with yielding to the Holy Spirit conviction of sin and your acceptance of the fact you need to work on ridding your life of that sin. God said it, that settles it. Anyone else’s word bears no authority.

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