Seeing the Future

By Rob Renfroe –

I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m not a prophet. And I’m not claiming to have “a word from God.” But I think I can see how the called General Conference may end next February.

The bishops have spoken predominantly about two options which they are likely to put forth. The first proposal is called “The One Church” Plan. Previously it was referred to as “the local option.” Each pastor would determine whether to marry gay couples and each annual conference would decide whether to ordain practicing homosexuals. We would be one church with two different sexual ethics, some of us teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and others proclaiming that marriage is the sacred union of two persons. Some of us would teach that loving homosexual relations are a gift from God to be celebrated; others of us would refer to such relations as contrary to God’s will, even sinful. 

This “one church” plan has been around for a good while. It was proposed at General Conference in 2016 and fared so poorly in committee that its rejection was a certainty and it was not even brought to the floor for a vote. This plan would require evangelicals and traditionalists to belong to a church that allows and promotes what they believe to be contrary to the clear teaching of God’s word. It’s hard to understand why the bishops think the same plan might pass when practically all of 2016’s delegates are returning to vote in 2019.

The “one church” model will be opposed in St. Louis by the same coalition that defeated it in the past – traditionalists in the U.S., delegates from Africa (almost unanimously), and most delegates from The Philippines and Eastern Europe. This coalition, or some form of it, has been the majority opinion on every significant sexual ethics vote that has come before General Conference for four decades. In fact, this alliance even defeated a less progressive proposal that United Methodists simply admit that we have differing opinions regarding homosexuality. I’m not a prophet but I don’t need to be to predict that “The One Church” Plan will fail again when it is proposed in St. Louis.

The second proposal has been referred to as “the Multi-Branch plan.” This proposal divides the church into three jurisdictions. One jurisdiction would be fully progressive with pastors required to marry gay couples. A second jurisdiction would be traditional in its beliefs and would not allow its pastor to marry same-gendered persons. A third jurisdiction would permit pastors to determine their own policies. Ordination of gay persons would likewise be required, forbidden, or allowed (but not required) of annual conferences, depending on the jurisdiction they joined.

For some evangelicals this plan is more palatable. The distance between the three branches is sufficient for some traditionalists to “live with” this model even if it’s not their first choice.

But can it pass? Probably not, because it requires constitutional amendments, meaning it must pass by a two-thirds margin at the called General Conference and by the same margin when it is considered later by annual and central conferences. Some progressives will not vote for this plan because they see it as an institutionalizing of injustice. Many evangelicals, both in the U.S and around the globe, will reject this plan because it also requires them to remain in a church that allows and promotes what the Scriptures forbid. Even if all of the progressives and one-third of the traditional delegates accept this plan, it will still fail to gain the two-thirds approval that it requires.

I’m not a prophet and I don’t have a crystal ball. But I can see a very unhappy ending for the special Conference that was called for the bishops to resolve our division over sexuality. If the only two options considered are the ones the bishops have been promoting in their press releases, chaos will be the result when they are defeated.  The church will be demoralized. The bishops will have failed.  Progressives will rampantly break the Book of Discipline. Conservatives will stop paying apportionments. Churches will leave the denomination. Members in huge numbers will depart to find non-Methodist churches to join. And there will be no one to look to for leadership. The bishops will have failed their trust and will have no moral authority to guide the church. The “centrist” leaders again will have lost their attempt to liberalize the church. Progressives will be seen for the true minority they are.

We will be in disarray and we will be leaderless.

In the meantime, the situation in the church is only getting worse. The decline in attendance is increasing. Bishops and annual conferences continue to disregard the Discipline by appointing self-avowed practicing homosexuals to leadership positions and by passing policies allowing the ordination of practicing LGBT persons (see page 6). More local churches are leaving the denomination. Mistrust and cynicism are growing. The morale of clergy in much of the U.S. is in the depths. Many are worried and anxious about the future of the church and its implications for their own personal situation. It is past time for the pain to end and this conflict to be resolved.

What’s our hope? That some other group will bring forth a plan that might resolve our dysfunction and our division. After all the time and expense that has been consumed in creating two plans that cannot pass, our hope is that a dissenting group of bishops, a global coalition, or some other group will create a plan that can pass. It will not be a plan that pleases everyone. It may not be a plan that “keeps us together” if that means having two or more positions regarding sexuality in one church. But it is time to resolve our differences and be done with the constant acrimony and fighting. That’s why the Conference was called. That’s what the bishops were asked to do. But if they won’t, then someone else must. Or I see a very unhappy ending for United Methodists.

Comments

  1. William (Bill) Fitzgerrel says:

    I notice that you did not consider the third option, which is a proposal to “tighten” adherence to the Discipline and create consequences for those bishops and conferences that refuse to discipline in a significant way those who defy the Discipline (I am writing largely from ignorance of the specifics). I would like to hear your take on the possibility that such a proposal would pass and what would be the consequences. Though I would favor such a proposal, I am not optimistic that it would achieve its intentions. I think that it would lead to greater “civil disobedience” and chaos. Personally, I think that the best proposal is one that calls for an orderly, respectful, and loving dissolution of the denomination. The desperate rhetoric that calls for “unity” fails to recognize that Biblical unity is defined in I Corinthians 1:10: “that you all agree”–literally “that you all say the same thing.” None of the three proposals will move the denomination toward that kind of unity. Certainly, we do not want a denomination that does not allow diversity of opinion in non-essentials, but we cannot go on as we are today. And none of the three proposals will bring resolution. Yes, we will be unhappy at the end of February, 2019, but no more unhappy than we are today. Incidentally, thank you and Walter Fenton for your book “Are We Really Better Together?”

  2. In the Minnesota Annual Conference (one of the conferences served by Bishop Ough, outgoing President of the Council of Bishops), we had a meeting of clergy with Bishop Ough this past Monday to hear a report on the Council of Bishop’s recommendation to the 2019 GC.

    (Along with Bishop Ough’s report, and his explanation of the Council’s rationale for their recommendation, we had the usual worship, table discussions and talkback that we’ve had for years, obviously meant to promote the agenda of “can’t we all just get along.”)

    Bishop Ough began his comments by telling us that the Council of Bishops has been the most prayerful about this issue as they have ever been, literally spending time on their knees in prayer at their recent meeting where this decision was made. He also said each plan/model had it’s supporters, but in the end, the One-Church Plan had a large majority of support. He reminded us that the CoB is not a legislative body, but a conciliar body, and only one actual vote was taken at the end of their deliberations (which chose the One-Church plan). However, it was clear from his comments that many Bishops voted for the One-Church Plan who clearly favored one of the other two plans, but they simply knew there was not enough support for it to be chosen.

    Bishop Ough explained that the Council of Bishops is putting forth one recommendation to GC, the One-Church Plan. Both the Traditional model (not even called a “plan”) and the Connecting Conferences Plan will be included in their report as information, but will not be voted on.

    The Bishop did a thorough job of explaining why they are putting forth the One-Church Plan, and it all comes down to what might be possible in light of constitutional amendments, etc. They just don’t think the Connecting Conferences Plan is possible, as you alluded to above, Rob. Very little chance of passing the needed amendments. The Traditional model is basically in the report because it was one of the three proposals looked at by the Way Forward commission, but at our meeting, when it was put up on the screen, there were red letters under it that said, “not recommended by the Commission or Council” (I took a photo of this with my phone, as did many others there, so I know this is accurate). Those red letters do NOT appear under the Connecting Conferences Plan, and on screen under the One-Church Plan, it says in red letters “Council of Bishops Recommends”.

    I agree with you, Rob, that the One-Church Plan has no chance of passing, and we will be back at square one, and in chaos. The only solution, painful as it is, is amicable separation, or dissolution and let various factions envision their way forward.

    The more orthodox, evangelical clergy I talked to at Monday’s meeting with Bishop Ough clearly cannot serve in good conscience in a denomination under the One-Church Plan. Sadly, this indecision is probably going to linger on into 2020’s GC.

  3. Pastor Rob,
    With all due respect, I believe that many UM’s had always believed that either Good News or the more recent Wesleyan Covenant Association would be the body that would step forward to assume a mantle of leadership, when and if the UMC imploded. This is the moment that many of us believed these traditionally identified organizations would reveal some design/plan for disaffected UM’s, who see no option of remaining in the church. If we are being told that neither organization has an idea of how we might be “held together” under some Wesleyan-based confederation, perhaps that’s how this situation will resolve itself. However, if either GN or the WCA harbor any desire to stand forth in a position of leadership, you have NOW reached the time of critical mass. If you choose to defer from assuming a more tangible leadership role, we might be disappointed, but will go our various ways. However, speaking solely for myself, I will be very disappointed that decades of faithful, traditional UM representation ends in this manner. I feel we have much to consider and pray about. I will especially be praying for the leadership of Good News and the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Whatever God has in our future, I trust that all remain true to God’s leading and His word.

    • William (Bill) Fitzgerrel says:

      Thank you, Jim, for your comments. If I am reading you right, you are asking WCA (along with GN) to step up right now with a proposal for exodus after General Conference 2019. I also notice the final sentence in Mike’s comments, which are listed just before yours: “Sadly, this indecision is probably going to linger on into 2020’s GC.” I see WCA in a bit of a quandary. They are trying to be “gentlemanly” and not enter GC 2019 already ready for schism, though it is becoming inevitable. On the other hand, they do not want to be caught “flat-footed,” as I heard one of their executives say. I say, WCA should write a petition for GC 2019 that prescribes in detail an orderly and loving dissolution of the UMC.

      • Bill,
        I believe you have the general thrust of my comments. And though I understand the desire to live in the spirit of Christian brotherhood and mutual respect, I do not believe it is premature to ask GN and/or WCA to begin to share specifics regarding their perception of a hopelessly divided UMC. I have a deep concern that various elements of the UMC (the COB, especially) are assuming that no particular traditional group is prepared to stand in the breach and present a solid, thoughtful plan to shepherd traditionalists to a new evangelical Wesleyan confederation. I may be incorrect in this concern and, frankly, I pray I am mistaken. I would prefer to see GN/WCA go to GC 2019 with a thoughtful, prayerful plan for departure, together with a list of churches and clergy pledged to join this new confederation. Should our prayers to preserve a true Wesleyan church prevail, the plans could be shelved. However, to go to the GC without solid plans and commitments seems ill-considered. Pray for God’s best and prepare for what recent UMC decisions/responses/edicts have foreshadowed for the future.

        • Rev. David R. Rucker says:

          I agree 100%. In fact I implore GN/WCA to develop such a plan and I pray it will never have to be implemented!

          • Dale Sigler says:

            My understanding is, that WCA is working on both petitions for GC ’19 and a plan for leaving. The only question in my mind is, how bloody will the separation be?

  4. I hate to say this but if Bishop Ough is correct that the traditional plan will not be considered (apparently Bishop Jones disagrees) then we may want to consider the following plan. Assuming that the One Church plan allows for an exit for churches who do not want to live under that plan, it may be to our benefit as conservatives to approve it. Then 100’s if not thousands of Bible believing former Methodist churches can form a new denomination without all of the baggage such as GBCS to take care of. An organized plan to approve the plan as long as it has an exit clause and then forming a new denomination, which the liberals would not be interested in joining may simply be the most peaceful option. We would not have to conduct large numbers of trials, to remove gay clergy, bishops, and DS’s which passage of option one would require to be effective. Progressives and gays will not leave the UMC unless they are purged which would be a very unseemly affair, damaging to the body of Christ. As all of us clergy know sometimes it is better to leave than to duke it out with out churches. When bishops are publically arguing the situatuation is getting out of hand. Maybe it is time for us to be the gracious ones and leave (and leave the bureaucracy behind). Wesleyan Covenant church sounds better than the already soiled Methodist brand.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing the other day. I would hate to have to vote for such a thing but if it allowed churches to leave and form something new without a lot of fussing and fighting . . . it may be best. I would rather invest my energy in something positive, for instance, creating new structures, connections, and ministries, rather than trying to get people to do what the BOD says. I hate to say it but the UMC is just way too broken to fix. And I think that we are all coming to the point where we have to acknowledge this reality.

    • Steve Card says:

      once a motion is submitted, any substitute motion can immediately change it into something else. just because the CoB endorse their “remove the restrictive language and we’ll be nice to traditionalist clergy” plan does not mean the body will accept it. They have three days to hammer out a decision, if not work on the details which would in all likelihood be the current BoD with more teeth – seeking to force the Bishops to uphold the covenant they have turned away from. The one constitutional amendment that already passed made the Bishops accountable to the GC which was not possible before. Prior to this they were accountable to the Jurisdiction and their own CoB club. The pain will come in removing these Bishops and clergy who will not go down without a fight. That’s the stick. The carrot could be some form of gracious exit that doesn’t harm the old pension plan or leave some AC’s bankrupt. Don’t be surprised if WCA doesn’t have their ducks in a row if either the Bishops’ Wishlist Plan or the Traditionalist Plan wins the day.

  5. William says:

    Rob,
    Can you please clarify? Your May 4th article, along with multiple other reports, had the Traditional Plan still on the table and would be included in the Bishops’ report to 2019 General Conference. Are you now saying in this later article that the Traditional Plan is off the table and will not be included in the Bishops’ report?

    • William says:

      A clarifying statement???

      The One (Two) Church Plan ONLY for legislative consideration with whatever they’re talking in circles about with relation to the other two plans. Honesty, transparency, humbleness, truthfulness, and conformity to Scripture as a way to unity instead of conformity to secular forces is not in their portfolio.

      http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/bishops-clarify-statement-on-commission-on-a-way-forward-recommendation

      The Judicial Council MUST rule to keep the 2019 General Conference OPEN to consideration of ALL legislative proposals and stop this COB maneuvering and deception.

  6. Something needs to happen soon. Methodists are leaving the denomination in droves for other churches that actually know what they believe. Sadly, I believe that both sides of this issue know good and well there will be schism, but they are playing chicken with one another because of money and power. The side that leaves first will be the group who loses the most short-term regarding property disputes, but long term, the denomination will suffer because liberals just don’t attend church in great numbers, for the most part.

    Even with the present language in the BoD, the UMC attendance slides as members flee for other churches. That tells me that the exodus of the UMC is actually more than LGBT clergy and SS marriage, I think a greater number of people just dislike the UMC and its unbiblical bureaucracy and progressive politicking.

  7. David Vaughn says:

    It is my understanding that the “One-Church Plan” is the only one being offered and recommended to the special General Conference. And, since the bishops are focused on ‘unity’ and holding the church together, they are not including any exit strategy. So, when the One-Church Plan fails, as many people assume, we will be left with the same mess that we are in now. If the restrictive language remains in the Discipline, then liberal pastors will continue to ignore the Discipline and conduct same-sex ‘marriages’; liberal bishops will continue to look the other way; and we will continue to be as divided as ever. The bishops are refusing to acknowledge that, like Paul and Barnabus, we have reached a sharp disagreement that will not be resolved. It is time to go our separate ways. But, the bishops are letting the division continue to fester and brew to the point that it will difficult, if not impossible for the coming separation to be amicable.

    • I agree with you, David. It all seems so simple to me. Jes=us said you will be persecuted for following me. If the liberal pastors wish to break the traditional UMC doctrine, then they should not leave, they should be tossed out. If we allow SS marriages and LGBT pastors, then someone tell me, what other sins can I ignore. Never discriminate against an LGBT, but never accept their way of life.

  8. Thomas Luther says:

    God has a one church plan. The difference is in God’s plan and the CoB plan is that of submission to God”s Word! The CoB One Church plan does not submit to God’s Word! Why? Because those who developed the plan have never submitted themselves to God’s Word and since they do not know Christ as Lord they continue to walk in darkness as blind guides and I refuse to follow them! I have submitted myself to Christ and His Word and I refuse to compromise His Gospel!

  9. I just listened to John Wesley’s sermon “On Christian Perfection”. It’s always interesting to hear the founder of the Methodist movements own words. Then I compare it to the ideas of Bishops and Pastors who are perfectly willing to compromise with worldliness rather than preach the truth according to John Wesley backed by scripture. A True Christian is like his/her master, they also do not sin. That’s a tall order, but through the power of Christ a person can be made and kept holy and entirely sanctified. The Bishops must have forgotten the true power of God to make the sinner perfect. Our hope is in the Christian Perfection that John Wesley taught on and teaching anything less than that keeps people from reaching their full potential in Christ. “Go forth and sin no more” has become “Continue in your current way and seek the justification from your neighbors for your ways”. A neighbor cannot justify a neighbor, mortals have not that authority, only God through Christ can conquer sin. May the Bishops, clergy and laity submit their will to Gods will, if not, a self sorting of Christians and Heathens will occur. Yes, the church is full of heathen who don’t seek what Wesley taught about, full submission to God.

  10. Linda Branch says:

    The gates of Hell will not prevail.

  11. ” I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out”
    John Wesley, August 4, 1786

    The so-called “one church” plan is nothing more than an effort to create what John Wesley feared, “a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.” The blatant disregard for Scripture and Methodist Discipline that allowed some Methodists to embrace slavery and divide Methodism, is the same mindset that is allowing some to once again divide the Church by embracing a lifestyle that is contrary to both Scripture and Methodist Discipline.

    I would rather that Methodism does not exist than that it should exist as a spiritual extension of the gay bar. I am a Methodist, a 1987 graduate of Perkins (M.Div.). As far back as the mid 1980s, when I took a traditional position on the issue of homosexuality, the response of my seminary colleagues was extremely disappointing, putting it mildly. Because of that experience, I chose not to pursue ordination in the UMC because I feared this future we are now in.

    Let us be honest with ourselves. The Methodism of John Wesley, virtually dead in Europe, is on life-support in North America. As long as the UMC is in the control of 21st Century Pharisees, the gospel of Christ will be subservient to public accolades. Those of us who are traditionalists must seek to establish a totally independent movement and join with traditional Methodists in Africa and elsewhere. The “one Church” plan is a spiritual Titanic you will not find me on board.

    • Yes, I agree, but these are not merely wayward Methodists. Read Max Weber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) and the plethora of thesis studies in today’s most prestigious institutions of higher education. The, so-called, most powerful Protestant denominations have been of great interest to world, social and economical leaders for over a century, only growing of interest after more serious critique of Marxism as a roadmap to a new “idea” world order. Studies showed the problem with creating a global ethic is not only immediate or physical, but that people need a god, or gods, to attend to or inspire the human will. We do more, do more better, and with greater cohesion and success if we are somehow convinced of a transcendent authority or “higher power”. While Marx missed the mark by not seeing the usefulness of religion, today’s elitists see “the opiate” as advantageous, especially if the compliants are moved, even to great sacrifices, beyond duty, but even happily. In disobedience, compromise, and conformity, the foundational principles of the Protestant faith have long been watered down and added to, and especially so with the “Christian Spirituality” and “Creation Spirituality” movements rampant in our denomination. The UMC, apart from Scripture, has become a much coveted instrument for forcing radical social change for a new global social order. I think it is important that we see the big picture.

  12. Harold Gielow says:

    The recent JC decision allows alternate proposals to be submitted. I was in hopes that GN or the WCA were prepared to submit such proposals by the July deadline. Is no one drafting such? Given the GC conservatism, I would suspect a good chance that a conservative proposal would be approved.

  13. Steve Morgan says:

    The Bishops are not leading. Who will? “For such a time as this!” The leaders of GN and WCA need to gather their respective leaders in one room and hash out the biblical, Wesleyan way forward. I’ve already “figuratively” voted and so have millions like me! Get it done!

  14. William P. Saxman says:

    Like those who have replied I am struggling with the increasing possibility of an acrimonious divorce – the death of a Church I have served for over 50 years. I long for that pain to stop. While I too am not a prophet, should the present trend continue, will there not be another social move to cause division? My slight reading of Church history, with the exception of the Jew – Gentile issue, has been one of divorce; sometimes amicable, but usually not. I pray the Holy Spirit will intervene and save us from ourselves.

  15. Chris Madison says:

    I am torn over this issue. The Bible student in me does not see as clear of a distinction between cultural issues as cultic prostitution as opposed to homosexual relations in general. I am doing a lot of reading as we approach this General Conference. If we approach scripture only as great religious literature on a par with other religious/philosophical literature, then scripture loses authority for us and we can say that it is “inspiring,” but not “inspired,” or God breathed. Part of me wonders if we lack knowledge in our understanding around why we define ourselves sexually. Scripturally marriage is between a man and a woman. I am greatly concerned pertaining to those who commit suicide because of tensions related to their sexuality in a predominantly heterosexual culture. How are we in ministry with those who struggle with their sexuality? I believe in Biblical authority. But I truly wonder if our sexuality is more complex than some might want to understand it. And I wonder if we are still not divided over the fundamentalist/modernist split. Is there no common ground? Or, is modernism a totally different religion from historic Christianity as some Evangelical authors suggest? How do we integrate reason and scientific discoveries with the heart of our faith, which is a Cruciform faith? The apostle Paul speaks of the Cross as “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Are we moving toward a “Crossless” Christianity which defines Jesus as a wise teacher and scripture as only “wisdom literature?” Is salvation a “process” driven by an impersonal Force? The issue before us is about more than sexuality. It is about who we understand God to be, who we understand Jesus Christ to be, and if we understand his death to be more than a messiah figure whom the Romans executed. I believe that the General Conference in 2019 May not address these foundational issues, all to the peril of our beloved UMC.

    • Chris Madison says:

      I wrote what I did in response while I was on my lunch hour using a “smart” phone. Smart phones are not so smart.

      I was trying to say that there are those who see the issue of homosexuality as addressed scripturally as condemning relationships with same gender prostitutes–whether of Baal or Astarte, or later in New Testament times in Rome’s putrescent culture in cities like Corinth, etc., but not believing that the seven prohibitory texts are about the issue as before us today.

      Please note: What I wrote was: “Part of me wonders if we lack knowledge in our understanding around why we define ourselves sexually.” What I was trying to say was, “Do we really understand how our sexualities develop?” Things aren’t as simplistic as we once thought.

    • James Lung says:

      Gays and lesbians and the rest are not disordered solely on account of their sexual preferences. Rather, their embrace of same-sex sexual desires is but a symptom of deeper woundedness. Embracing the homosexualist agenda will not diminish suicide and other trauma that “gays” and “lesbians” experience. The roots of their bondages will still remain within.

  16. Every Sunday for the last 70 years, after the minister reads from The Bible, they say this is The Word of God for the people of God, and the congregations response is thanks be to God. In Mark chapter 10:6-9 Jesus tells us about how God made male and female from the beginning of creation and the two shall become one flesh. In Ephesians Paul writes in chapter 5:31 Man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife ; and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore all scripture is God breathed 2nd Timothy 3:16 so This is the Word of God for the people of God , thanks be to God. A way forward sounds like a way backwards from which we have grown into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

  17. One Church with three divisions? 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (Esv) Why cannot we examine the scriptures?

  18. Charles Riley says:

    Once you compromise with evil, you are lost.

    • mark s. klaisner says:

      I choose to love and meet people where they’re at good, bad, or ugly. So many of our UMC brothers and sisters, on both sides of the debate, want to see a divorce. Divorce is never pretty, and anyone suggesting that a loving and orderly dissolution of our denomination is possible are basically delusional. My heart and spirit is broken!

  19. Griff C Danheim says:

    Or it could be as simple as our maintaining the United Methodist Discipline and those that do not want to abide by our Church rules leave and form their own version on a church. Thereby leaving the UMC whole as we go about our business. However I am certain this is much to simple…..

    • Thomas Luther says:

      Those who violate the Book of Discipline have no reason to leave and will continue to violate it as long as they are not held accountable and so far no bishop, elder or General Conference has taken a stand for God. No one has a stomach for spiritual warfare so the advasary will always defeat such a church denomination as this. Poor biblical structure with more politics than Godliness! What we face is a spiritual darkness that intends to destroy this denomination and discredit God in the process and no one will stand and fight except those who are led by the Advarsary! Is there no David among us who will slay this enemy of our God! Not one among our bishops!!!!

  20. P. Perry says:

    Their convictions are not really of our Denomination but they want the financial assets of our Denomination without our Book of Discipline.

  21. Mark Klaisner says:

    My hearts breaks! It is hard to see that those of us who are centrist have no place in our denomination. The world laughs when we sing;” They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”

  22. Bruce Johnson says:

    These bleak alternatives may have a silver lining. I belive that the renewal coalition, along with the international church, should push hard to pass some form of the traditionalist plan. This would do three important things: 1. Make clear the will of the official decision-making body to remain within the ecumencial historical church until Jesus returns. This conference has one purpose only, and the will of the body would be definitive and without question. 2. Therefore, passing a traditional plan would remove from the bishops ANY rational ground for resisting the will of the church. Until now, many could argue that we have been in a process of discerning the mind of the Spirit, etc. No more, the time would be up for the church through its bishop-inspired process will have spoken. 3. Thus, for the first time conservatives/traditionalist/orthodox United Methodists will be arguing from a place of strength and unquestionable authority. Yes, the fight will continue, but psychologically and spiritually the progressives would be demoralized, and appropriately so.

    A clear and decisive decision to strengthen the church’s position will leave progressives with only three viable options–tear the church apart with further disobedience, change, or leave. If they choose the former way, all United Methodists but the most strident progressives will recognize that they are the only ones being unfaithful and schismatic. If the outcome of the 2019 General Conference is to be unavoidably contentious, wouldn’t it be good to be arguing and working from a position of confidence, hope, and strength for a change? That sounds like a church I’d want to remain in.

  23. Christianity is under attack. And in the case of our UMC from within. Traditional Christian education has been neutered by an over sensitization to feelings.

    I wrote this recently:
    1157 RELIGIOUS WAR
    D-Day June 6 1944. I was 4 years old.

    Operation Overlord. Invasion of Europe. The Evil of Nazi Germany was about to destroy all tradition and subjugate all to fear and servitude.

    What happened?? We stood up. Britain and Churchill stood up with the odds against them.

    Here we are again…except that this war is now contained within our borders and hearts.

    Half-truths are dominating the dialogue. History and tradition are being abridged and mocked.

    Schools have become bureaucracies of political correctness, where teaching good and evil is forbidden. That would be moralizing. The Bible is housed in fiction shelves.

    No Christian wants to be identified as such once outside the safety of the pews. Being looked at funny is the powerful weapon of choice by the left.

    Is this not war when you are being diminished by organized political combatants? It is time to fight back. It is time to be seen and heard in public as a Christian. Crosses on gold chains are fine. But weapons that are heard are more important . Why is someone afraid to say the name Jesus out loud?

    “God Bless You”. “I’ll pray for you” are powerful tools when heard by the stranger behind you in the grocery store. The cashier smiles. Some even say thank you. All to be noticed by those in doubt.

    Christian pride must be taught and felt. And… radiated. It is religious war. We are being attacked. It is time to stop worrying about feelings and do what is right and obvious deep in our hearts.

    Serve others and be proud of it.

    Be a recruiting office for what is right.

    I need your help.

    Says your country.

    Speak up!

  24. robert east says:

    I curious to know if there has been any significant shift since 2016 conference where it is my understanding the traditional plan, if offered then, would have only received about 40% support from the U S and, because of the Central vote at the time, would have received approximately 60%? Am I missing something about any information or polling that would change the figures above. Thanks.

  25. Richard Holt says:

    As a pastor, I have adopted in almost every setting the sentence from the Eucharist – “The Lord be with you.” as my parting from anyone with whom I am in conversation of virtually any sort. I have more then once become involved with some who snorted derisively, but not as often as I have been thanked. The forces of pro (actually, I think) regressivism (if there is such a word) have the people who grew up with the “If it feels good do it!” mentality as their focus, and support, and I have even been accosted with the “Do you believe in that fairy tale?” response.

    But, more often than that, I give a short witness, even sometimes hear a confession or a problem suddenly emerge from hiding, and have that golden moment when the opportunity to speak the Word of God into someone’s pain.

    Which leads me to suggest that Christians as a whole, and our United Methodist parishioners and clergy in particular need to get past tolerance with people who will accept “a little sin” to avoid having to make hard decisions. Do we stand on the basis of “Sola Scriptura” for our basis of deciding how we follow God’s Word as well as proclaim it? Do we avoid hurting someone’s feelings by proclaiming less than the full truths in the Holy Bible? Or, do we avoid such problems with by the “ostrich approach” or the “deaf, dumb and blind” approach? [Now, I am probably in trouble with someone who majors in minors because I lifted a line from The Who!]

    Maybe it is time for a division! The forces of social compliance with improprieties and misbehavior have the backing of the media because it makes them more money! Something which is a change and controversial always has that impact, so they play it our for all its worth. So those who are still firmly in agreement with the Church of Jesus Christ being based on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason need to stand as well. And it might be time to just walk away from the group who do not agree with those concepts, and form another community of faith, or seek alliance with one which is based on those principles.

  26. Nancy Cornell says:

    The Board of Global Justice is going around getting feedback on their proposal of “updating” all the articles of Social Justice. They want to throw away what is in now the articles of Social Justice (all of it) and replace it with their new Social Justice writing. It is purely the Liberal agenda. No words on male and female, very vague, and prepared for the inclusion of the homosexual and Gender identity. (different designations of gender). I am sick. They left out the section on human sexuality. What are they hiding? We are in such a battle, and most don’t realize it!

  27. Steven Willis says:

    I hope for adoption of the Traditionalist Plan, including what I understand to be generous exit provisions for Congregations that choose to leave. I fear the One Church plan will collapse within a few years. I hope, if adopted, it too has generous exit provisions for those congregations that choose to depart. What to do with a closely divided congregation is another problem altogether.

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