St. Louis Approaches

The Rev. Rob Renfroe

As delegates to the special 2019 General Conference prepare for St. Louis, advocates for two of the three plans that will be presented by the Commission on the Way Forward have been active in presenting their case.

In an address to The Confessing Movement within the Texas Annual Conference in late May, the Rev. Rob Renfroe registered his fiery disapproval of the “One Church Plan” supported by the majority of North American bishops. “For many years I have called for an end to the fighting and amicable solution to our division,” Renfroe said. “The bishops have chosen to insure that General Conference 2019 will be the most destructive and divisive in our history.” You can watch his speech HERE.

In response to a video of Renfroe’s speech, the Rev. Dr. James C. Howell of Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, issued an open letter to Renfroe. “At first I recoiled from your onslaught of words,” wrote Howell, “But then I thought it must be hard for you to live in your own skin. Rage corrodes you from within.”

In his response to Renfroe, Howell – a leader in the “Uniting Methodists” caucus – also stated: “I’ve heard rumors that you have been raising money to ply our African brothers and sisters who are delegates to General Conference with favors. I’m choosing not to believe it, out of love, as surely no faithful Christian would resort to such tactics.”

Renfroe responded to Howell’s accusation in a public reply. “It’s a nice rhetorical trick to say, ‘I’ve heard a rumor; here it is; but surely, it can’t be true,'” Renfroe wrote. “You get to do damage to the person you’re slandering but can deny that you actually made an accusation.”

Dr. James Howell, Myers Park United Methodist Church

Howell subsequently claimed in the comments section of his blog that the Africa rumor “sadly, has been confirmed as true.”

However, Howell provided no evidence.

“Here are the facts,” Renfroe responded, “Good News and the other renewal groups have not and do not need to ply delegates in Africa with favors to sway them to vote for a traditionalist plan. The idea they could be influenced or ‘bought off’ by financial gifts says much more about the one making the claim than it does about them. Our African brothers and sisters are persons of great integrity, thoroughly committed to a traditional sexual ethic, and have recently been taking their rightful place of leadership within our global denomination.”

Howell’s blog can be read HERE (The accusations regarding African delegates has since been deleted in Howell’s personal blog.).

Renfroe’s blog can be read HERE.

One Church Plan

Meanwhile, supporters of the “One Church Plan” held back-to-back meetings in two different cities in mid-July.

Lonnie Chafin of the Northern Illinois Conference brief General Conference delegates at the “Uniting Methodist” caucus event in Dallas. Photo by Sam Hodges, United Methodist News Service.

“We wanted delegates to talk about the plans without spin,” Lonnie Chafin, organizer of the event, told Heather Hahn of United Methodist News Service (UMNS). The event was held at the United Methodist-related Scarritt Bennett Centers in Nashville, Tennessee. Chafin is treasurer of the Northern Illinois Conference and a lay delegate to General Conference. He is also a leader of the Uniting Methodist caucus.

Not invited, Chafin told UMNS, were people “who are willing to break the church over their own position.”

Dr. Tim McClendon, a six-time General Conference delegate from South Carolina, attended the Nashville gathering. Unlike Chafin, McClendon is not persuaded that the “One Church Plan” is the answer to United Methodism’s future. “Our connectional polity brands how we’re different from other denominations, and why we need more uniformity in our minimum credentialing standards,” wrote McClendon. “How in the world will bishops and cabinets decide which clergy fit with which church if the standards are all over the place? The One Church Plan is the most deceitful title of any plan I know. Instead of unity of the church, it fragments it even more. Rather than promoting unity, it reduces The United Methodist Church to a shell of what we’re meant to be in making disciples as a connectional enterprise.”

McClendon’s entire blog can be read HERE.

Hahn’s UMNS article can be read HERE.

According to news reports, the Rev. Mark Holland, a Great Plains Conference clergy delegate and former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, is taking a year of sabbatical to raise funds, promote the One Church proposal, and spearhead a new caucus group named “Mainstream UMC” to push the legislative agenda through the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis.

The day after the event in Nashville concluded, the “Uniting Methodist” event began in Dallas. “The gathering featured plenty of pep talks about the need for denominational unity and about the One Church Plan – which would allow U.S. churches and conferences autonomy on ordaining gay clergy and holding same-sex unions – as the way to have that,” reported Sam Hodges of United Methodist News Service. “But the group also made it clear that it’s pivoting toward strategy and tactics for getting the plan passed at the special General Conference set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis.”

The Uniting Methodist leadership team includes notable personalities such as Brian Milford and Neil Alexander, the current and former leaders of the United Methodist Publishing House; the Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, the denomination’s largest church; the Rev. Olu Brown, senior pastor of Impact Church in Atlanta; and the Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington D.C.

“Our goal is to have a one-on-one conversation with every potential delegate in order to bring them to the One Church Plan,” Chafin told about 30 General Conference delegates in Dallas, according to UMNS.

According to the news report: “Chafin asked those in attendance to do their own lobbying of delegates. He promised the coalition for One Church would be organized and ready to maneuver once floor action begins. He even said he’s looking for a ‘parliamentary ninja’ to help, drawing laughs from the crowd.”

You can read Sam Hodges’ UMNS report HERE.

Good News Media Service



  1. No amount of hyperbole can describe the true deceitfulness of this “one church plan”, beginning with the fact that it represents everything except one church. And, this attempt to lobby delegates into believing this lie is going much lower than the actual writing of the plan itself. This special General Conference is shaping up to be an epic battle between good and evil. Either the Holy Spirit will intervene in the hearts and minds of our delegates and they will vote to preserve our traditional Wesleyan church, or the the Great Deceiver will have his way with this ”one church plan” thus leading to the tearing asunder of our church.

    Please, God, preserve our traditional Wesleyan United Methodist Church.

  2. Gary Bebop says

    Rob’s exposure of the tendentiousness of his opponent’s remarks is classic. But Rob better be well prepared for what’s coming. The One Church Plan sect is aroused in its exasperation and pride and loathing. We can expect more supercilious affronts by the “party of unity.” Be alert to dirty tricks.

    • Rev. Terry B. Hall says

      Well, since Rob is one of the most bombastic, accusing and misleading voices in this discussion, I suspect he is not only well aware of, but well-trained and well-practiced in the “tendentiousness”, pride and loathing, as well as smearing anyone who thinks or studiously, faithfully interprets Scripture differently than he does.

  3. Donald Burk says

    Who is plying (or leveraging) whom? I would like to know! These people are depending more on parliamentary hijinks to have their way it would seem. And the inuendo! This is not godly persuasion! It’s political maneuvering; and they acknowledge as much.
    And that guy complaining that traditionalists are willing to break the church to have their way — he, along with liberals in general, don’t understand that our #1 priority is truth.

  4. Character assignation, rumors, innuendo, and out right lies are the stock in trade for progressives whether in secular or church politics. They have no desire for polite or holy conversation. And when called out for their activities they blame it on conservatives and say they are much worse, of course without evidence or at best the actions of one lone individual. This has not yet begun to get ugly and I am afraid that even the traditional plan will not end this. They will stay in the church and continue the battle unless we remove from the UMC even clergy who advocate for gay rights, but are not gay. I don’t see that ever happening. In many ways traditionalists would be better off starting a new denomination. Sadly this is been the result of the other denominations that have split recently and the traditionalist groups that have split off are fairing much better than the original group

  5. Our experience in dealing with those advocating acceptance of same sex activities has been that in the name of “love and tolerance” you can speak your mind freely as long as you are not opposed to normalizing it or unless you call it sin. Then instead of refuting your remarks, or attempting to do so, the name calling begins. It will be made clear you are less than fully human, certainly less than intelligent, and your mental and emotional health will be questioned.

    How can that come from anywhere but the pits of hell?

    • A Methodist preacher once warned during his sermon, “if you see the devil hitchhiking, DON’T give him a ride because he’ll soon want to be driving”. Not only have our progressives given him a ride, they’ve given him the keys — this “one church plan” must be one of the Great Deceiver’s contemporary master pieces.

  6. The buzz word coming from the Bishops this year is transformation. Even the Senior pastor of our local church is using it a lot. Transforming or transformation means change. Change can be good or bad. But when we have church leaders wanting to transform or change the teachings in the Bible and the Book of Discilpine in order to conform to the worldly beliefs of a minority that is in my opinion a bad thing. Hopefully the majority will overcome this “transformation” and continue the teachings of the Bible and Book of Discipline as it is written.

  7. Gary Bebop says

    Expect a “roaring lion”! This will be spiritual warfare of the most determined kind. We must pray earnestly (daily) for the soul of the church. We must stand with traditional evangelical leaders and never yield ground to apostasy.

  8. Of course Good News will have a full analysis of this report.

    But, at first glance, it slaps traditionalists right in the nose. Disguised with its patronizing of traditionalists wording, it is one of the most passive aggressive deceitful documents ever written. Trying to present this as a report supported by Wesleyan theology and traditional Methodist doctrine is blasphemy, even with its half-hearted, obviously begrudged traditionalists component.

    Traditionalists MUST expose this travesty to the delegates for what it is, a gigantic LIE dressed up in a suit called “unity”. Outrageous!

  9. Bruce Edwards says

    If an idea has to be sold, if delegates must be convinced, if tactics must be developed, there is a problem with the “One Church Plan”. This is a very basic and fundamental question being presented to the church. The answer can be found in the bible. Any non-biblical solutions MUST be discarded. The only valid, biblical, option is the traditional option.

  10. Gary Bebop says

    It’s ironic that the Truth (which the church defends) should become twisted by its bishops and elite managers and dealt out as a form of “fake news” (so uproariously rejected in the political sphere).

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