Provocation upon provocation

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2016 General Conference provocations

More than 70 United Methodist pastors from the West Ohio Annual Conference participated in or bore witness to the same-sex wedding ceremony on Saturday, May 7. One of the clergy participants acknowledged the ceremony is in violation of UM Church teaching, but said it would “excite, engage and motivate others working for change.”

The same sex union came just days before the General Conference once again takes up the contentious issues of marriage and sexuality.

Even though the church has debated this issue for nearly 45 years, and has repeatedly declined to endorse same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy, for the past several years LGBTQ advocates have decided to break covenant with the vast majority of the denomination, and engage in these acts of ecclesial disobedience.

Currently, United Methodism shares the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman with the vast majority of Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.

The ceremony in Ohio – and various provocations in Portland – are clearly part of an orchestrated effort on the part of LGBTQ advocacy groups seeking to change the UM Church’s position on sexuality and marriage. It comes just two weeks after a same-sex wedding service held in a UM Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, led by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert.

Not to be outdone, the boards of ordained ministry in the progressive Baltimore-Washington, New York, and Pacific-Northwest Annual Conferences recently announced they would no longer follow the denomination’s Book of Discipline when interviewing candidates for ordination. All three boards said they would no longer bar openly gay candidates from seeking clergy credentials in their annual conferences.

Clearly, progressives have decided that even if they fail again at this General Conference to change the church’s position, they will continue to regularly and provocatively defy the will of the church’s highest legislative body. Their actions will divide the church, particularly if our bishops fail to hold them accountable. Even worse, they will undermine the good work of colleagues and the health and vitality of thousands of local UM Churches.

The West Ohio Annual Conference has been racked by dissension over the same-sex marriage debate. Some pastors and local churches are threatening to leave the conference if other pastors are simply allowed to defy the church’s teachings on what many believe are core issues.

As the General Conference provocations escalate, more and more congregations will be forced to question their future with United Methodism.



  1. Licensed Local Pastor says

    Okay so now a “grassroots group” can ordain their own elders?! Wow exactly when will the leadership of the United Methodist Church step and put an end to this one way or the other? Either hold them accountable to their vows and the Book of Discipline or let them leave the connection and go their own way.

    • eric pone says

      How exactly can you stop a conference from basically doing what they want? You can kick them out of the GC or refuse to seat them at GC. You could defrock the whole conference and replace the Bishop. At a certain point though you run out of options if a conference is going to not follow docrine aside from kicking out the who conference.

  2. It appears that Wormwood’s Coach Express picked up 70 passengers with an attraction stop of a wedding on the way to GC 2016. As Wormwood’s Express sped along after the wedding, the coach had acquired 41 more passengers. As they arrived in Portland, a letter of intent was signed by 111 coach passengers. Their main objective is to overwhelm the GC 2016 with their presence and their take no prisoners attitude. Wormwood has inflamed this group into a frenzy that they can’t be stopped. Important positions are held by confederates that will not hold them accountable. They feel there is no real power or prior strategy that is capable to defend against this force. The Grand Finale planned is Operation Chaos with no structure and foundation for delegates to carry back home.

  3. Chuck Davis says

    For those of you who haven’t lived on the “left coast” as I have (in Portland, no less), rest assured that “progressives” do not compromise and approach confrontations such as this without a shred of good will. It is naïve to think otherwise. This is “the world” versus “the Word” and it won’t get better if not stopped now. I’m all for parting ways with these heretical radicals.

  4. Marilyn Stevens says

    Do we not see the hypocrisy in claiming that the rules are more important than God’s love for people? Cling to understandings and squeeze the life out of compassionate responses to those who suffer, but, do not allow interpretation to change. Narrow and hard-hearted is my read on this article.

  5. I was recently appointed to lead a local UMC as a local pastor. While I have an MA in ministry I don’t have an MDiv so I must abide by the rules, and there are many.
    My first COS class and meeting at United Theological was an eye opener. The school announced they are being forced to end the hybrid COS program. So, I am trying to follow the rules and the best, most convenient program in the mid-west is shut down as of January 1, 2017.
    I must continue to abide by the Book of Discipline while other ordained elders look on with great interest as I try to fit into their ranks. They expect me to follow the rules to join the team.
    Now here comes defiance, protest and law breaking. The UMC is in chaos and loud voices are able to hijack the Book of Discipline and not be disciplined. I see no leadership and plenty of hypocrites.
    I am sad and disheartened already. I realize I am in for The Kingdom but not all in for the UMC. I will most likely turn down this appointment that is supposed to start July 1.
    Even with the proposals on the table as we know them I don’t know if I am serving a church that will break away and join the liberals, moderates or conservatives.
    I know God is in charge, but man is making messes again.


  1. The Provocation Is Part

    […] icularly if our bishops fail to hold them accountable. Even worse, they will und […]

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