What the Bishops’ Meeting Means

By Thomas Lambrecht-

Social media is all abuzz in the aftermath of the Council of Bishops meeting that ended Wednesday. The special four-day meeting was called to enable further discussion of the Commission on a Way Forward report – updating and refining two of the three options it had previously presented to the bishops. In a press release [link] and news story [link], we learned further details about the way forward the bishops are envisioning.

This meeting marked the most extensive and frank discussions the bishops have ever had on the issue of the church’s ministry to and with LGBT persons. It is disturbing that such discussions really did not begin until the church was on the brink of separation in 2016. It is good that these conversations are finally taking place.

The two options currently under consideration by the bishops are:

* A One Church Contextual model that is a repackaging of the local option. Under this plan, the language around marriage and homosexuality would be removed from the Book of Discipline. Each annual conference would be able to decide whether to ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals as clergy. Each pastor would be able to decide whether to perform same-sex weddings or unions. Each local church would be able to decide whether to allow same-sex weddings in its sanctuary and whether to receive an openly gay pastor. Those who could not in good conscience participate in same-sex weddings or ordination would not be required to do so. Congregations that could not continue in the UM Church under this new situation would be able to exit the denomination with their property under terms not yet spelled out.

* Multi-Branch in One Church model that envisions the creation of three new branches based on theology, one progressive, one traditional, and one following the local option approach. These branches would replace the current five geographical jurisdictions and would each cover the entire United States. The current central conferences outside the U.S. could form their own branches or could join one of the three theological branches. The traditional branch would maintain the current stance prohibiting same-sex weddings and ordination, with robust accountability within that branch. Other branches could modify or remove the language prohibiting same-sex weddings and ordination in their branches. All the branches would share a few common services and agencies, and there would still be one Council of Bishops. Each annual conference would decide which branch to belong to, and only those local churches that disagreed with their annual conference’s choice would need to vote to join a different branch. Congregations that could not continue in the UM Church under this new situation would be able to exit the denomination with their property under terms not yet spelled out.

This means that the bishops are no longer considering the possible model that would have kept the language on marriage and homosexuality in the Discipline the same, with enhanced accountability to ensure that bishops and annual conferences live by the Discipline. Under this sketch, annual conferences and local churches that could not live by the current Discipline would be encouraged to exit the denomination under generous terms.

It is not surprising that the accountability model is not being considered, since more than half of the bishops favor changing the Book of Discipline’s position to allow same-sex weddings and ordination. For the bishops, the accountability model is too much like separation, and their overriding value is unity.

For the same reasons, it is not surprising that the rhetoric coming from the Council president and other bishops is weighted toward the One Church Contextual model. This fits the desire of many bishops to change the Discipline and still stay together in one church. They cannot comprehend that many evangelicals could not continue in a denomination that condones what the Bible calls sinful behavior. And they believe that somehow the local option plan can pass the special General Conference, even though it failed in the past three General Conferences.

So what does all of this mean for the way forward for our church? The short answer is: not much. Regardless of what plan or plans the bishops put forward, other plans will be on the table to be considered at the special 2019 General Conference in St. Louis. It is not the bishops who will decide the way forward, but the General Conference delegates. A plan for keeping the Discipline the same with enhanced accountability, or a plan incorporating those features, is likely to be put forward despite the bishops’ disapproval. The Council of Bishops has a fairly low influence on U.S. delegates, due to the high level of distrust for the Council, despite the individual regard some delegates have for their own bishop. It is highly unlikely that evangelical delegates in Africa, the Philippines, and Eurasia will vote to change the position of our church, even if it is said that such a change would not affect them.

From my perspective, it is not time for traditional evangelicals to bail out of the United Methodist Church. Nothing has been decided, and the power remains in the hands of the General Conference delegates. We had hoped that the Council of Bishops would present a plan that evangelicals could support. It now looks more likely that will not happen. But for 50 years evangelicals have operated at a disadvantage, and the Lord has enabled our biblically based position that welcomes and loves LGBT persons while teaching against sinful behavior to prevail. We expect that to continue. And if not, we believe that Jesus Christ is still on the throne, and he will guide us into a way in which we can remain faithful. What he asks of us is to stand strongly on his Word and remain faithful.

Please continue to pray for the bishops, the Commission on a Way Forward, and for Good News and the other renewal groups, as we all seek to discern the faithful way forward for our church.

Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News. He is also a member of the Commission on a Way Forward.

 

Comments

  1. This is clearly a battle for the spiritual soul of the United Methodist Church. I must wonder, are the bishops so out of touch that they don’t understand that options 2 or three will drive out traditionalists, or do they want to drive us out. I am not sure what they are thinking, but I would like to hear from them. We will know in one year what will happen and we must all be patient until then. We need to pray that men like Thomas Lambrecth and others will make a proposal such as option 1 would have been. The United Methodist church as the main carrier of our Wesleyan heritage is too important to give up on. Until then we need to be in prayer and make sure our voices are heard. Paul predicted this day in 2 Timothy 4:3 and we must not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

  2. Once again our leadership are wearing there PC hat vs the JC hat !!!

  3. Bill Bouknight says:

    Tom, you are right on target. I hope you evangelical members of the Commission will insist on issuing a minority report.

  4. William says:

    What will it now take for Good News, The Wesleyan Covenant Association, The Confessing Movement, etc.
    to STOP this? A rhetorical question, of course —- I know they’re working hard on this as preparations are made for the 2019 General Conference.

    I do not believe that the now uninformed large majority of the laity would ever go for either of these options IF they were presented with honest, straightforward BIBLICAL EVIDENCE of refute. As Scott points out, that’s what this is all about. Will we continue on as a Biblical church or just become another social activists organization? Apparently too many of our bishops have become little more than secular driven social activists while abdicating their initial call to spiritual leadership. That is tragic.

    All the Biblical support is on the side of orthodox-traditional Methodists on the issue of marriage and sexual immorality. It seems that the time is now to use that to defeat the forces that are out to take that away from the church, in essence — to take God and His Word out of our church.

    No doubt, this is a spiritual battle. It is time to unapologetically stand on the Biblical Word of God —- to wage and win this battle for the soul of the United Methodist Church.

  5. Looks like GC 2019 will be interesting. If a plan is put forward to strengthen the current rules and it passes then I expect the Bishops will have a cow. If we decide to let each church decide a basic question about sexual immorality then why do we need bishops? We can go with a Congregationalist model and move out from there. Of course the individual churches might also decide how much money they want to kick upline and then The UMC structure will begin to crumble.
    I will sit and wait for now.

  6. Gary Bebop says:

    Tom’s exasperation with the bishops is clearly manifest here, even if his language is restrained. The future will not come from the bishops. But hard choices lie ahead for the WCA alliance. “Someone” from within the grand alliance will have to shoulder the mantle of leading the way out of this swamp of vain compromise, wishful thinking, and futile waiting for the fire to fall from heaven to consume the apostates. The first big word to be uttered should be a resounding NO to giving birth a three-headed church.

  7. How badly do we (and the rest of the world) really need the United Methodist Church? The main reason Christian denominations began to exist was because of different understandings of biblical truth–doctrines. When a church’s historical doctrines become practically irrelevant within that church, who needs that church anyway? I wonder how many UM pastors and members–evangelical and liberal alike–actually see much value in historic Methodist doctrines. The historic Methodist doctrines are still our official doctrines. Do they still have practical, relevant value? Are they biblical? If so, we must proclaim them. If not, let’s take our sign down, go home, and forget about United Methodism. Who needs it anyway? I am sure any of the historic Wesleyan denominations would be happy to receive any of us who meet their membership requirements.

  8. As Tom said, other proposals can (and most likely will) be put forward at the 2019 GC.

    The big question is – when a proposal to keep the current language in the BOD passes, pastors and churches (and BISHOPS!!!) who can’t affirm that language will be offered the option to leave with local property/ies (remember, Tom, it’s not THEIR property; they hold it in trust for the UMC), what will they do? They don’t want to leave, they don’t want to lose the denominational resources (spending $$ given by many who are traditional/orthodox for their many pet left-leaning agendas and causes) – and they simply believe they are right and it’s still a justice issue for them… IOW, they still will not want to be faithful to what the larger church decides, and they will try to find a way to circumvent it – especially with so many bishops on their side.

    It will be interesting indeed.

    • Wow, Mike. I thought property was held in trust for God and God’s people … not for the UMC or any other human construct.

      • Ron, from the legal perspective, UM church property IS held in trust for the denomination. The issue is not a spiritual issue in this case, it is a legal one which will have to be decided on legal grounds if it comes to that.

  9. “From my perspective, it is not time for traditional evangelicals to bail out of the United Methodist Church. Nothing has been decided, and the power remains in the hands of the General Conference delegates.”
    Thanks for saying this. I have been considering bailing for some time. This is winnable.
    Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

  10. Around GC2016 somebody described General Conference as where the ivory tower runs head on into the grass roots. This ought to be interesting. The tunnel vision of the Bishops is amazingly appalling! It is like they slept through the last several General Conferences! I couldn’t bail right now–I want to see what happens next!

    • Do the majority of our secular driven, politically correct bishops not believe in Jesus anymore? Like the LGBT secular culture, do they see his description of marriage as hate speech? If they reject what he said about marriage in his condemnation of divorce, what other of his teachings do they reject? Are they even Christians anymore, or ever were in the first place? How did they rise to the office they occupy by rejecting the very church law that, on oath, they swore to faithfully defend and uphold? A president of the United States would be impeached and removed from office from such open rejection and obvious violation of the constitution.

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A4-6&version=NIV

  11. Thomas Luther says:

    I recommend General conference either put term limits on bishops or not have them at all! The question already posed is, “does God need the United Methodist Church?” I think many Elders and Bishops do need the structure of the church to support their status and lifestyle and that is why they are trying to hold everything together without the unity that comes from obedience to God’s Word! It will slip through their fingers into the dust of history because they seek unity with the world and not with God! I call all to repentance and prayer. Turn from your wicked ways and turn back to The WAY that is clearly found in God’s Word by all who submit their lives to Him!

  12. Since we are all part of the ministry of the Church by nature of our baptism and confirmation, it would seem to me that the Holy Spirit would be speaking to every member of the UMC not just to those in leadership or our elected delegates to the General Conference. The important question is “What is the consensus of the ALL of the members of the UMC concerning these important matters?” If asked to vote, would not an exceedingly vast majority of the members of our denomination vote to retain the current BOD language or marriage, ordination, etc? It is my believe that they would. It is my sense that the “progressive” positions advocated by some, despite the amount of noise they make and the tactics they employ, have relatively little support among most United Methodists. So, how will the equal voice of all of the members of our denomination be heard? I am still an advocate for a Referendum Sunday in which every member has an opportunity to express their spiritual conviction as to the wisdom of changing the language of the current BOD through an individual vote tabulated at the local church. Such a referendum type vote would, of course, not be binding on the General Conference but it would be advisory and indicate the sense of the wider community of faith. It seems to me that the decisions being made, in this particular case, are too important to be left to only a few.

    • William says:

      Keith,
      Or revise the sexual ethics and ordination sections of the BOD by taking away the politically charged, offensive to progressives language by including everyone — then vote.

      1. Replace the term homosexuality with sexual immorality.
      2. Of course, keep the language on Christian marriage as only that between a man and a woman.
      3. Define sexual immorality as all sexual activities outside that of consensual in a Christian marriage.
      4. State that the practice of sexual immorality is incomparable with Christian teachings.
      5. State that clergy candidates and clergy must be celibate in singleness and faithful in marriage.

      Can’t imagine getting less than a 90% favorable vote.

      • William says:

        Of, would delegates to the 2019 General Conference vote for this along with real, financial based enforcements?

      • Jerry Stephenson says:

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. Our BOD has stated for years that homosexuality is sinful and while it is acceptable to allow such to attend our churches in hopes of them being converted to true faith and stop being sinful, it should not be part of our denomination to accept such as pastors, bishops, or to perform same-sex marriages which goes against Biblical teachings. Our founder, John Wesley, always stated that our first and foremost discipline to follow was the teachings of the Bible and our Lord, Jesus Christ, neither of which advocated homosexuality, nor same-sex marriages. This should not become a political matter, but simply a Biblical decision based on the teachings from God’s word and that of His Son. Surely, the General Conference in 2019 will not accept these changes to our BOD, or our denomination will be split forever and many, or most, of our churches will remove themselves from their conferences and our denomination as a whole if they are accepted. While I do support some of our progressive stances that promote protecting our environment and how we treat others; I cannot support sinful practices to be part of our BOD and what our denomination supports. Please, God, make these Bishops and all our delegates realize the sinful nature they are possibly proposing for us to accept and prevent them from voting to allow such. I love the United Methodist Church, but this would be entirely unacceptable for those of us who are true Christians whether we are considered evangelicals, or progressives by others. Sin is sin. Let’s surely not support adding sin to our disciplines.

  13. Gary Bebop says:

    There won’t be any Referendum Sunday. Put it out of your mind. Neither will there be any Progressive departures, with their properties and pride. They aren’t going anywhere. So we must stop “last ditch” wishful thinking. The need for prophetic and charismatic WCA leadership to speak up is urgent. It’s self-evident that evangelicals are milling about aimlessly and bewildered and unable to act. That’s why “wait and see” has suddenly gained a fateful, desperate cachet.

  14. Doug Craven says:

    I applaud you passion to persevere and your strict Scriptural stance, but I watch all this from the UMC sidelines now. After what seemed to be too many “we’ll solve this at the next General Conference” dreams, I left the UMC several years ago. Having attended our Annual Conference with a petition from our local church concerning human sexuality, only to see it killed quickly & silently in a committee, I believe that we have let the leadership drift too far from the truth. I was also unprepared for the way in which the “leadership” twisted & turned the rules and procedures to get their way, despite the feelings of the church membership at large. Prime example would be the GC 2016 where the vote was going against their wishes and they quickly developed the motion to lay aside all the issues concerning human sexuality and form the Commission for a Way Forward. I do not doubt that they are already planning for any “rebellion” at this Special GC 2019. I do watch and pray that God will work a miracle and bring the Wesleyan faith back, but I have seem my hopes dashed too many times and now feel that the UMC has gone too far to be redeemed in my lifetime.

  15. John Hester says:

    If “evangelicals could not continue in a denomination that condones what the Bible calls sinful behavior,” then I wonder about the issue of divorce. Jesus actually talked about this one, so surely it should carry at least as much weight to these “evangelicals” as homosexuality. So why isn’t there as much consternation toward a church that allows ordination of divorced people?

    • William says:

      Except on grounds of sexual immorality, Jesus strongly condemned divorce. And in his condemnation of divorce, he as strongly defended and described marriage. Why did he unequivocally describe and defend marriage here? It was because he saw a need to point out to his detractors what the Creator had created for humankind to follow and people were not to diminish or tamper with it through frivolous divorces. And it can certainly be concluded from this that God’s created order for marriage was not negotiable buy any other man made arrangements.

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A4-6&version=NIV

    • sheri graeber says:

      Agree completely John. It seems evangelicals have chosen an issue on which to stand and will hear nothing other than their own interpretation. Scripture is and has always been contextual. The UMC did the same thing with regard to slavery and ordaining women by history. The UMC was proven wrong in both of those interpretations. It will be so with their stance on sexual orientation as well. Jesus cares little for our pompous proclamations but cares greatly for how we loved our neighbor as ourselves. Remember how he criticized the Pharisees for having a religion of rules instead of love? We are spending millions of dollars on trying to resolve this issue while there is so much need in the world. No wonder so many say they love our Christ but cannot find him in the behavior of those who call themselves Christian.

      • Historically, slaves were Christians in their oppressive condition. Historically, women were Christians in their oppressive condition. Today, many continue to find Jesus and become Christians in their oppressive conditions. Praise God. And, it’s on Christians to fight these social evils at every level.

        That and love is not the issue. The issue is sin. The first thing Jesus preached was repent. Of course, he went to the cross to pay the price for my sins — if I repent, turn from my sins, and follow him. That transcends all contexts through all human history and until his second coming. That’s what this fight in the UMC is about. Will the UMC continue to preach individual repentance or contextual political correctness?

        https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+4%3A17&version=NIV

      • The point you are missing when you use slavery and the role of women in the church as an example to justify same gender relationships is that nowhere does the Bible even hint that being a slave or a woman is a sin. Furthermore, within the Bible, there are clear statements that justify a trajectory of working to abolish slavery and allowing women to have leadership positions within the church. The same cannot be said for same gender relationships.

    • John Hester says:

      Is it not telling that after several days no one can answer my query about why homosexuality deserves more consternation than divorce? So I will answer it myself: those who condemn homosexuality more than divorce have allowed societal norms (which today accepts divorce much more than homosexuality) to steer their interpretation of Scripture more than the Holy Spirit. This is a common problem for any church. We often create God in the image of what suits our own culture. I know those on the other side of the issue will have a conniption fit over what I have said. I pray there may be at least one for whom my thoughts give pause and causes them to rethink their position.

      • D. Peters says:

        I don’t approve of divorce or homosexuality, but one point I might make is that people can not avoid divorce if the court orders it. At least in my state you can not stop someone from divorcing you. There is no choice but to be divorced if the court orders it. One can choose to be celibate whether a divorced person or a homosexual person. My final point is choosing an active homosexual lifestyle is not the same as being declared divorced by a court.

  16. Clifford Hill says:

    All of these comments are so much sound and fury signifying the coming end of church and religion as we have known it. So much heat and so little light about a basic human need: sex. One would wish that we could generate as much interest and investment in such causes as dealing with violence in our society, poverty and the growing inequality of wealth distribution, polluting the planet with poisonous air, plastics, etc., especially along with those things that were important to Jesus in Matthew 25. One more thing: science tells us that 5-10% of members of our species are homosexual. God created them. Should they be consigned to hell? Loved only conditionally? Treated as a separate and unequal category? One is not surprised that today church membership and attendance are down and continuing to fall, as they have been doing for 60 years; that Nones and Church Alumni outnumber those remaining; that young people are increasingly turned off by organized religion. Wake up people, to the real problems we face.

    • I disagree that ‘sex’ is a basic human need; it becomes a driving force for some through the lust of their minds, but for others it is under control for sake of the sanctity of a traditional marriage. As Jesus told us in Matthew 19:12 we individually can choose our behavior in this matter.
      I think William said it well when the language of the BOD should be altered to speak against sexual immorality and require strict morality of the church’s leaders.

    • Clifford, with all due respect, your numbers for homosexuals as part of the population are not accurate; the 5-10% gets thrown around all the time, when the number is closer to 1.5%.

      And you also made the claim that science tells us they are homosexual – science does nothing of the sort. There is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is from nature. Yes, there is homosexual (same-sex) attraction, and yes, there is homosexual activity.

      I know I won’t change your mind, but I’m not going to let you get away with the usual tactic of throwing around numbers that are baseless, and therefore, don’t give any force to your argument.

      The other issues you mentioned are all important, and quite frankly, impact many more people than the issue of homosexual practice that we’ve been divided over for 40+ years. Yet liberal/progressive clergy and activists won’t give up this battle for the church.

      I think evangelicals are close to the end of their “wait and see” days. I do think the WCA will be prepared to help churches find/create a new Wesleyan home if the Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward continue down their two option path. Neither option is satisfactory for evangelical/ orthodox/ traditionalists. I’m not a member of the WCA (yet) and haven’t suggested that my church join; but I am very ready to get this over with and move on. There is no unity possible when both sides see this as an essential, non-negotiable of our faith. It’s time for the divorce, as someone mentioned above.

    • Karen Bueno says:

      Thank you, Clifford Hill, for speaking for those of us who have the future of the United Methodist Church in the 21st century in our hopes and prayers. We must shed the language that condemns homosexuality, just as we have on the issue of slavery and the issue of women’s leadership in the church. We will either become irrelevant by keeping that language in the discipline, or split into factions that will curtail our work for justice for all peoples.

      • William says:

        Agree. Homosexuality needs to be dropped from the Book of Discipline and replaced with sexual immorality. And, while retaining the description of Christian marriage given by Jesus as recorded in Matthew and Mark, plus supported throughout all Scripture, the UMC needs to simply state that all sexual relations, consensual or not, outside that of a man and woman in marriage is sexual immorality and is incomparable with Christian teachings. Furthermore, clergy and clergy candidates must be celibate in singleness and faithful in Christian marriage, and they can perform only Christian marriages in United Methodist churches.

  17. R Ketchum says:

    Jesus did not condemn homosexuals or homosexual behavior. Not once. He did not make “celibacy in singleness” a requirement for his disciples or the leaders of his church. What He did do was share God’s grace with ALL kinds of people, and He requires us to do the same. Read your Bibles, brothers and sisters, and take the logs out of your own eyes…

    As for the UMC, I’d love to see the results of a vote of the membership. Then I’d really know whether I’m welcome in this church or not. Why do you hate us so much that you’d tear this church apart just to keep us out?

    –a Gay Christian

    • R Ketchum, no one hates you. It is out of genuine love for God AND for you that we are being faithful to Jesus’ gospel message of repentance (change – for all of us in various ways – none of us is exempt from repentance) and transformation into Christlikeness.

      As to the comment above about Jesus not speaking to homosexual practice. He very clearly affirmed the Genesis teaching on human origins and marriage between a man and a woman.

      What does the universal Church (including the UMC) proclaim and affirm on the issue of marriage? The Church has historically (everywhere and always) affirmed that God created us “male and female for each other” – that there is something complimentary and completing in male and female coming together – as woman was taken out of man, when she is presented to the man again he says, “This is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.” She completes him; they complete each other, and together, in marriage, they are able to fulfill God’s dual commands to procreate (fill the earth) and be creative (have dominion over the earth and subdue it). This they do as male and female together in a unique relationship that is God’s design. (None of this is to devalue the lives and contributions of those who are single, obviously.)

      Again, this is what the church has affirmed and understood for 2,000 years, as did the Jewish tradition before it. And I would also say that this foundational plan of God for us as male and female has much more to say about our human sexuality than the 6-9 (or 10-11) brief texts that condemn homosexual practice; those are not to be ignored, but are to be interpreted and understood in light of God’s original design in Genesis (which Jesus then reaffirms in Matthew, et. al.).

      We (the Church) have lived in submission under this truth as Christian doctrine and practice for the full history of the universal Church. It is the arrogance and hubris of many today (both in our church and beyond) who think they can lay it aside for some new “revelation of the Holy Spirit.” They may be well meaning, but that does not mean that they may not also be wrong in their understanding.

      • well said

        the other issue that Jesus spoke to was celibacy

        he lifted it up to the highest calling as did Paul.

        the argument that Jesus didn’t speak against homosexuality is a false argument, especially when he did speak to marriage and celibacy

    • William says:

      Jesus condemned sexual immorality, which, of course, included the practice of homosexuality.

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+7%3A21-23&version=NIV

  18. Keith Smith says:

    I might not have commented except that I was surprised to see my name on a previous post. So there are at least two of us following this issue on Good News. We as a denomination have been asked this question since the first full General Conference in 1972. To date, the answer has been “no” which simply guarantees that the question gets asked again. Any answer other than “yes” will have this result. If a traditional “way forward” is proposed and adopted in 2019, the can is just kicked down the road. If the experience of our Lutheran and Presbyterian brothers and sisters is instructive, then the second big question after we finally get the “right” answer to the question that will never to away, is what do traditionalists decide? Can a single denomination continue that maintains two opposite answers to a question? Although that’s probably preferable from some perspectives, e.g. UMCOR, how do potential new members feel about such a denomination?

  19. According to Maslow, Sex is a basic human need. Sex is also an important responsibility. The Bible prescribes what is and is not acceptable within the realm of sexual ethics. Since some the UMC wish to apply teaching that is contrary to scripture, a problem arises. Some people recognize that sexual relations are important while also having certain “rules” around them. Some people wish to ignore the “rules” and wish to change the “rules” to meet their will or to meet the will of people that they are allied with. The question the Christ follower must ask themselves is. Should my will be done or should “Thy willl be done”. Thy will is according to “Thy Word” which is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. “Thy” is referring to the one who Jesus prayed to and who gave humanity “The Word”. It’s too bad that people can read it, these Bishops might fool us lowly laypeople and be successful. The Bishops are not going against our will, they are going against “Thy Will”. The Creator will handle this disobedience in a way that will separate those who submit to “Thy Word” from those who have their own agenda. We can sit back and allow God to handle this. The Bishops, clergy and the lay people will all just have to see what the Creator wants. He will only let things go so long this way.

    • Thank you, E, for your comments. I basically agree with your point. However, we cannot accept Maslow’s analysis that ranks sex as a basic human need. If sex is on a par with food, shelter, and clothing, what do we say about Jesus and Paul, who did not engage in sexual relationships? And how would that diminish the value of singleness, which Paul lifts up as a preferred state for Christians? No one ever died from not having sex. It is not necessary for individual survival (only for the species). Therefore, I would not classify it as a basic need. I appreciate your weighing in with the comments.

  20. Mark W. Flynn says:

    Thank you, Tom, for the information, for the guidance, and for your faithfulness. You are a blessing. I am a third generation United Methodist minister. I am not yet ready to give up on the United Methodist Church. I am optimistic that the bishops will not get what so many of them want. If they do get what they want, I will have to seek the Spirit’s guidance regarding the place where I am to serve in the future.

  21. Don Jones says:

    The time for action is drawing near. I would just offer this advice to anyone thinking of bending to progressive pressure: You are considering conformity to our current “postmodern” society and abandoning the scripture-based faith that has stood the test of time through many centuries and cultures. A day will come soon enough, when postmodernism with it’s moral relativism will be discredited and abandoned, like all human systems. Where will your church be then?

    If you become a child of one age, you will be an orphan in the next.

  22. Gary Bebop says:

    There are “hints” (intended or not) that progressivists are thinking strategically about the Africans. Progressives appear to be quietly constructing a narrative encouraging the Africans to separate, thereby winnowing the church of conservative constituents in a move to re-balance the numbers in the church debate. One intimation is the puffing of Bishop John Yambasu’s comments in progressivist conferences.

  23. Rosa Clements-Milliner says:

    I believe that we must ask ourselves;
    1. Do we believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God? If so then, God is in control and the teachings of he Scripture is the foundational truths on which the United Methodist Church was built upon whose Head is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
    2. Will we stand for God or will we bow down to Satan? We must answer Satan with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, “We are God’s Children and we will obey God’s word. Get thee behind me Satan!” We can no longer hide behind studies, commissions, etc., Satan has challenged us, who is our God? Who do we believe is our true God? Who will we answer?
    3. I know in whom I have believe, so I will answer as I have for the last 62 years, God is my Creator, Redeemder, Savior and and all I need in this world and the next world. God is the true and only God for me.

  24. John Cobil says:

    This exchange shows the futility of this issue. What we disagree about is the definition of sin, not contemporary or traditional music in the service. Look at the responses above. There is not a compromise here. These two positions can’t coexist in the same church. The only “way forward” is a split. All we are arguing about now is the money.

  25. Thinking strategically has always been part of the progressive mindset. I once served in a progressive AC andT they are always strategically thinking. Now that I am over the shock of realizing that the Bishops have no concern for the traditionalist position, I realize that ridding the Methodist church of traditionalists is now the strategy. The UMC is too important for us to give up on and just leave. We must start to think strategically too. It is not time to play defense, we must adopt the maxim that the best defense is a good offense and we must be “all in”. It is time to adopt a coherent strategy that limits the power of the bishops. I would like to recommend the following for next years GC. 1. Just resolutions must be completed within 90 days of a charge being placed and must be publically disclosed and include a provision that a repeat offense will lead to immediate surrendering of the orders upon proof that a second offense has been committed. 2. Church trials must be held within six months of a charge being place. If an annual conference refuses to hold trials, then the trials will be moved to a conference that has a history of holding trials and fairly judging them. 3. If a Jurisdiction refuses to hold trials or enforce the discipline then trials will be moved to another Jurisdiction that has a history of holding trials and fairly judging them. 4. Remove the language of “self avowed” from the BOD. This is used to much as a dodge to prevent enforcing the BOD. 5. Bishops serve the entire denomination, not just an annual conference, therefore a Bishop who refuses to enforce the BOD can be charged and forced to surrender their orders upon being found guilty. This complaint can come from any member, congregation, or annual conference in the UMC and the trial will be held in the AC where the complaint originates from. This may seem extreme but it is the only way the bishops in the liberal jurisdictional conferences will ever be held accountable. I am sure this will be called unfair by some, but then why do liberals always file suit against Republicans in the 9th circuit our West. It is time to learn from their tactics. If we play nice, we will be forced out. We can be Christians and not be wimps!

  26. Nday Bondo says:

    The only one option that has maintained the UMC united and undivided is the traditional, conservative, and evangelical option found in the Book of Discipline since 1972. No one has ever left the church for it. What will make possible the change of an option supported for years by the church at its general conference sessions? Nothing will change at the 2019 general conference. The connectional church will maintain its stance: conformity to scripture. And nobody will leave the UMC because they don’t have anywhere else to go to. Otherwise they would have gone since then.

  27. James N. Miller says:

    The doctrine that brought me into the Methodist Church and has held me there more than 50 years is that my core beliefs do not have to be your core beliefs, and yours do not have to be mine, but we are still expected to love one another, worship together, pray together, take communion together, and serve together. By many I would be regarded as a liberal, by some probably even a heretic. But I have been blessed by the acceptance and love of others very different from me, have learned from them, have become much less judgmental of others, and drawn much closer to God, as His agents in the UMC have shown me what his love looks like. I came from a church that told me what I had to believe. I don’t want the UMC to become that church. To me, the exclusionary language in the BOD has always seemed mysteriously UN-Methodist to me, in contrast to my experience. Unless we have the “rotten apples” theory of inclusion, what is the big fear of 1% or 5% of the population?

  28. Gary Bebop says:

    Many Methodists are fed up on waffle cakes. A further latitudinarian move at this point would scrub Methodism of its evangelical-orthodox legacy and accelerate outflows to other churches. The irony is that our Methodist order is often the compelling reason why people join our churches. Will we now exchange that for the anarchy being proposed in Options #2 and #3? WCA must produce a uniting leader who will enunciate a vision of a church bound to Christ and its founders without silly compromises and confusion. This could be our Way Forward.

  29. The traditional branch would maintain the current stance prohibiting same-sex weddings and ordination, with robust accountability within that branch. Other branches could modify or remove the language prohibiting same-sex weddings and ordination in their branches.

    • And, you have a church divided against itself, officially. How, then, would that church articulate two diabolically opposite doctrines and Biblical understandings? The UMC would become the Oxymoron Methodist Church or the United/Divided Methodist Church — in complete conflict, confusion, and chaos. After running off millions of members, how would this new church replace them with a completely incoherent totally convoluted message?

    • That means that traditional believing Christians will be in a denomination that endorses sin and allows it within a part of the denomination. You have to understand that this is unacceptable to traditional christians. A complete split would have been a better option. I can only speak for myself, but I will not be part of a denomination that endorses sin and allows gay marriage or ordination. This is the key point.

  30. Gary Bebop says:

    Will WCA leaders delay casting a vision until it’s too late to gather a traditional consensus around it?

  31. Carl Jordan says:

    The Council of Bishops and delegates can debate, vote and think they will decide the fate of the UMC. The bottom line to me is that regular church members have the final say. We can vote with our feet and leave for other churches. I am more devoted to the Bible than to a particular denomination.

  32. It is my hope that the Wesleyan Covenant Association/et al is already exploring the option of unifying with other orthodox/traditional-Wesleyan/Methodists denominations shoud we get forced out of the UMC with the adoption of either of the two options under consideration.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Methodist_denominations

  33. This note is from one who has left The United Methodist Church. My departure was prompted by the Institution’s refusal to be faithful to Holy Scripture.
    Those who hide behind a phony icon of a wimpy Jesus, who tolerated everyone on everything, and supposedly took no stand on homosexuality, are con artists. They note that he did not mention it, so it must have been allowable in his judgement.

    They are not true to history or Jesus or their denomination. At the time sexual perversion was punishable by stoning to death. Jesus did not mention it, but rather said that he and his Father were one. The Father had proscribed that stoning death from the beginning of the journey of his ancient covenant people.

    These bogus, liberal theologians want to suggest that Jesus would have allowed open practice of homosexual or lesbian conduct. But they intentionally overlook the instructions Jesus gave to the woman caught in the act of adultery—another offense punishable by stoning: After forgiving her, he told her to go forth and sin no more.

    Jesus did not deny that adultery is sin. Instead, he told the sinner to stop sinning. The UMC’s perversion of basic Judeo-Christian truths has driven the denomination into irrelevancy, and will drive it into the ground—and beneath it. What fellowship do light and dark have? Aha! That explains it: The UMC lives in some sort of murky twilight, and seeks to prolong the lunacy.

    Schism is the only honorable way for Evangelicals, unless those who refuse to submit to the authority of Holy Scripture repent. Otherwise more Evangelicals will leave the UMC, because the first letter of UMC is a lie.

  34. Thomas Luther you are right. The bishops are desperate to save an institution they are complicit in breaking. Think about apportionments. Episcopal fund, money for official UMC seminarys
    Etc etc etc. This entire process is about money.
    The local church has been supporting their their liberal progressive seminaries and agenda for decades. It is time for each the Wesleyan Bible believing conservatives and the progressive liberals to go their own way. Let see which one survives. ABC’s of Christianity. Attendance, buildings and cash or attitudes believers and commitment. My personal belief the bishops are all about attendance buildings and cash.
    Licensed local pastor
    Bruce Willis.

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