Where do We go from Here?

By Rob Renfroe –

General Conference 2019 is over. Thank God! Many of us feared, even predicted, that when we gathered in St. Louis, we would experience the most hurtful and harmful General Conference in the history of the United Methodist Church.

Sadly, our fears were realized. The delegates affirmed a Traditional Plan that maintains our scriptural sexual ethics and added some additional accountability measures for those who disobey the Book of Discipline. But only after many LGBTQ persons felt marginalized and condemned by the church. And only after traditionalists were accused on the Conference floor of bringing a virus into the church that would make it sick, damaging the witness of the church for generations to come, and being mean-spirited, punitive hypocrites.

What hurts most is that it did not have to be this way. We asked our bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward to bring the church a new, creative plan that would put an end to our fighting. We had hoped they would do the visionary work necessary to come up with a solution that did not produce winners and losers. Instead, the option they recommended was an old plan that had been around for years and that guaranteed the special General Conference in St. Louis would get ugly and that people would be harmed.

It’s heartbreaking that after nearly three years, five million dollars, and many prayers for our bishops, they have left the church more divided and broken than ever.

Where do we go from here? To Minneapolis for General Conference 2020. And we’ll be there in fourteen months. The question before us is: Will we repeat the same battle in Minneapolis we just fought in St. Louis, using the same tactics, employing the same vitriol, likely to produce the same result – a church that is divided, dysfunctional, and coming apart? I hope and pray not.

Right now, people are angry and hurting. So, many are finding villains to blame, making accusations of underhandedness and even bribery. Others, primarily centrists and progressives, are threatening to leave the denomination. Some disappointed delegates and leaders are wondering out loud if they should pay apportionments to support the church in Africa which has kept them from moving the church in a progressive direction.

Still, United Methodist leaders are promising to ignore the decisions of General Conference and to be in ministry in the future as if the One Church Plan had passed. All this is to be expected. People who had hoped the church would change its sexual ethics are going through the grief process. First comes denial; then anger.

What is needed, and soon, are good faith partners – traditional, “centrist,” and progressive – who do not want to repeat the unpleasant and unproductive “Ground Hog Day” we have experienced at every General Conference since 1972. We need respected leaders in the U.S. and in the central conferences to come together and do the work we had hoped the Commission would do.

St. Louis was my seventh General Conference. My views have prevailed at every one of them. But I have never left feeling like a winner. I know people have been hurt by my beliefs. And traditionalists have been harmed by the accusations that others have made about them. In the process, the church has been damaged. Each time I have left the way I departed St. Louis – sorrowful and dismayed that we have never found a different way to resolve our differences.

In the old movie, War Games, the Matthew Broderick character inadvertently triggered a government computer that could launch nuclear missiles towards the Soviet Union, guaranteeing a devastating retaliatory response. Before launching the attack, the computer runs through every possible scenario before the eyes of military officials and scientists. The  computer games out all the different options, displayed on a large screen for everyone to see, faster and faster. When one scenario fails to create a winner, the screen goes dark and another scenario begins. Over and over. At one point the Broderick character is asked, “What’s it doing?” He replies, “It’s learning.” The scenarios continue, until finally the computer stops, almost as if it’s taking a breath. And then it displays the message: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

For years now, I have argued that good legislation will not solve our problems. It’s important that it’s there. What we did in St. Louis in passing the Traditional Plan was necessary. And if those who want to change our sexual ethics force us to fight again in Minneapolis, we will – with all of the determination, savvy, and strength that have characterized our efforts since 1972. I feel sure we will have the votes to add even more accountability measures. But I will not go away feeling like a winner.

It’s time to learn. The only winning move is not to play the same old game. Good faith partners need to come together and put an end to our fighting. I have some thoughts about how that can be done. Others will have different, maybe better, ideas. But as Paul warned the Galatians, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5.15).

We may not be able to agree on the church’s sexual ethics. Some on all sides are starting to argue, as I have for many years, that we may not be able to stay together and be true to how we believe God has called us to be in ministry. But we can treat each other with respect. We can learn that the only winning move is not to play the game. We can create a solution that has no winners and losers, no victims or villains. Only people who see a very important issue very differently and who find a way to set each other free.

Comments

  1. Robert A Combes says
  2. Excellent article and thoughts, but if a split is inevitable then the sooner the better. Prolonging it only makes the divide wider and the eventual parting more painful.

    • I totally agree Rob. A wise old teacher once said to me, “If you have to eat a toad, don’t look at it too long.”

      • Rev. Jezreel J. Saceda says

        The special session of our Gencon had voted already, the judicial council affirmed it…Ours is now to focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world, to this we should all be mindful, individually, and as a church, local or as a conference…Let’s cross pertinent bridges when we’re there. As of now, let’s go forward with Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

  3. The Wesleyan Covenant Association, for example, is certainly poised to deal with the argument that “we might not be able to stay together”. The WCA has been transparent and fully open as to where it stands and what its intentions are. The problem continues being the progressives who have been the stumbling block from the beginning of this conflict.

    Rob, are you saying that the progressives are now interested in a separation plan?

  4. In addition — a usual biased report. But, it reinforces once again the need for a separation as the answer of where we go from here. The church is now dividing into those identified as the “one church plan group” and those identified as the “traditional plan group”. That would indicate that the schism is beginning to come into clearer focus down in the ranks and more and more people are being forced to choose sides, two incompatible and irreconcilable sides.

    https://www.umnews.org/en/news/new-york-new-jersey-conferences-confer-on-gc2019

    • For a progressive this is truly a biased report because it is from a traditionalist perspective. And the reason it appears biased to you is because progressives and traditionalists come from two completely different mindsets about everything: God, us, the church, being an American, the explosive growth of the African UMC….

      The denomination has been in schism since 1972 so yes, the conflict it has already trickled down to the pew level. And as a lifetime Methodist/United Methodist, I know for a fact that this incessant battle has crippled the church because it has left the church unable to say anything in particular about anything. Anytime anybody says anything, there is somebody to say that they are wrong and here is the right answer. As St. Louis and its aftermath has proven, it is time for the battle to end so that everybody has the freedom to move on and live out their own set of unique beliefs as they see fit.

      And one more final thought. As a traditionalist, since GC2012, I have cruised the internet, listening to every voice I could find within the UMC. Sometimes I would put my thoughts out there and in response, all I got from progressives was the sting of intolerance. Maybe you honestly believe that we could all continue to live as one “happy family”, but my sense was that for many progressives that was not their goal. Even now, progressives are proving that the only unity they are ready to tolerate is the one that lets them live out their conscience and this is after they have thoroughly criticized traditionalists for wanting to live out theirs. The only reason progressives and traditionalists have become “enemies” is because we are conflicting and contradictory mindsets trying to occupy the same space and it is not working. Traditionalists are not an enemy to be conquered, we are simply people who disagree with you; but progressives have mutated disagreement into being the same as we desire harm to those we disagree with–and that is simply not true. I wish I could say that I believed the same about all progressives. I am no longer surprised that the American branch of the UMC is in long-term numerical decline, nobody in their right mind would want to become part of any organization that has degenerated into theological factions jockeying for position and control. My own association with it has become extremely tenuous.

    • It seems to me that these have been festering for years and now they have a name.

      • The Evagelical Lutheran Church of America went through this, the progressives “won.” ELCA is losing churches by the thousands since 2009. From expirence, stand your ground UMC! People want and need God’s word. Someone has to be the adult and say NO to pop culture influencing the church. By what authority do these “progressives” work to change truth? Follow the Bible. It is not about what “we” desire, it is about what God wants.

  5. Future efforts will be more profitably spent on laying out an efficient, expeditious, gracious split. There is no theological duct tape, and certainly no legislation, that can bind these two diametrically opposed views together. Plus, the One Church folks will never stop.

  6. Bill Fitzgerrel says

    Thanks to Rev. Renfro for these insights. My hope and prayer is that not just I read this, but that it gets into the hands of bishops and progressive and centrist leaders and THAT SOMETHING HAPPENS. If I have read the recent history correctly, all this could have been done in 2016. It is my understanding that the bishops nixed an “amicable separation” proposal and went for the “Way Forward.” That forced the hand of conservatives to come up with a plan counter to the One Church Plan. That resulted in the pain of GC 2019. I was there as an observer and came away heartsick. The clock is ticking. If something does not come up quickly, this thing is going to spin out of control. Readers also will find the post on the WCA site informative.

  7. Alan Darby says

    Rob, as usual, I think and feel the same way you do on all things UMC. I really appreciate your leadership and initiative. I am praying for you and your persevering in this good work.

  8. Linda Branch says

    Thank you for your wisdom. Praying that God will create something new that honors His Word.

  9. Jeffrey Olah says

    if they try to introduce the OCP in Minneapolis it will wind up defeated in committee just like it was in St. Louis.

  10. What was the outcome of our bishops selfish attempts at a power grab resulted for me in a vast chasm of separation within my immediate family. To pit traditional church members against angry young queer clergy was personal for me. They have done irreparable harm to our family through their false promises.

    • I feel your pain, Jane. God will find the “True way forward” if we just pray unceasingly and listen to him.

  11. I never did understand this fight. If a Churches foundational beliefs are one way, more importantly the way the Bible teaches, and a group within that organization disagrees with the Biblical view, then why does that group not go to another Church, or organization that believes the same way instead of making a mockery of the Church they say they love. Why try to change a fundamental Biblical belief and cause an established organization to bend from their foundations instead of just moving on to a place where they can express their views and “feel” more accepted if that is what they are ultimately trying to accomplish then they can make that organization the way they want it, or make a new one. We as a Church are going to Love them no matter what, but we will not be pushed into believing differently than God teaches.
    This is not an opinion issue, to choose what you want to believe. If you say you trust God, then trust Him in all His Word and take Him for what He teaches as Truth. We are not perfect people, we fail daily, but we have Grace, and Forgiveness, and our chief duty is to Seek Him First, and as Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 says: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
    Proverbs 3:5,6 2 Timothy 4:3 Matthew 19:4,5 Romans 1:18-31

  12. Allen Fuller says

    The “winner takes all” mentality (each side hoping to take over), and the trust clause, are the things that have kept a majority from agreeing to split, even though everyone who has any sense could see long ago that a split is inevitable. As others have said, better soon than later. And best if it is done as respectfully and amicably as possible.

    • The Devil is in the details. It will likely take years to wrangle over all of the doctrinal and financial issues that it raises

  13. Travis Knoll says

    I agree with most of what is said, but I think that an important issue is left unspoken. At issue here is not how we legislate over the status and role of persons with particular sexual identities and practices, but rather how we read the Bible.

    The reality is that we can disagree on issues that are not central to our identity as Christians, but how we read and utilize the Bible is hardly peripheral to our self understanding and practice.

    Both sides of this “discussion” do read the Bible, but they do so in such radically different ways that no middle ground exists between them.

    • Barry Winfell says

      Do they read the Bible in radically different ways?
      Methodism means applying the quadrilateral.
      Scripture, Tradition, Reason, Experience.
      I think both sides is actually more than two sides, because our scripture text itself, while there are different versions is largely the same. Our traditions are rooted strongly together; the communion table open to all for example.

      Reason and Experience are where I think we see broadly different thinking and it comes from such things as knowing people personally who are different; our genetic/biological family and our wider family (our church family, and even beyond that – societal family- composed of the unchurched or those of other faiths, firstly the Abrahamic, and outside those…)

      200 years ago, I think we can all agree on this, the quadrilateral approach didn’t see many of us accept women in leadership roles. Hardly outside the church, let alone in it! That has drastically changed and yet the actual text, the scripture itself has not… The times whern this changed, to have women preaching and even as bishops, surely saw traditional views pitted against progressive views despite clear text we thought we had in scripture.

      I am thankful for articles like this and those by my progressive friends too. I’m one of the centrists who actually values both sides. I’m in that third side though!

      • I agree Barry with your assessment completely. “United” we are not and haven’t been that for over 40 years. The elephant in the room stands loud and clear—the financial concerns over property, underfunded pensions and benefits, reducing ministry programs, realigning clergy and professional staffing, etc. A graced-filled separation plan is the only solution–2 or more groups–no one uses “United” in their name, retain a connectional “Methodism” goal and let the individual church self-identify their “open mind; heart; door approach. It’s already being done in major metro areas including the greater Houston area when I live within the UMC. Wake up; become real; get on with it.

  14. Jerry Walker says

    Rob,
    Thanks for your wise counsel, Past General Conferences have voted repeatedly to keep and enforce the Book of Discipline as it relates to sexual orientation.

    The simple solution is for those bishops and churches who do not wish to live by these rules to leave and form their own denomination or join one which is already in line with their views.

    We can then stop fighting and get back to our core mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ.

    • I don’t disagree. I thought the Connectional Conference plan was a good step towards that, but I guess it was deemed too complicated.

      The most important thing on the table for the next general conference has to be a clean method for split/disaffiliation. The options that are currently available (and I expect that the one proposed in GC 2019 will fail constitutional muster) are insufficient. Lets have an amicable split here – we might still have options to have cooperative ventures like UMCOR.

    • Pamela Sullins says

      Amen JR , I am a UM Pastors wife, the problem in the UMC are Pastors who are full of fear , the gospel of Jesus Christ has always brought division among people , are we people pleasers or God pleasers. Here we see a great denomination destroyed by backslading preachers and so called Bishops with degrees of learning and climing the ladder of success like some kind of bussiness for life. What we need is a call for all United Methodist Churches to come to church and Pray around our Altars and repent starting with the preachers leading the way. We need Gods word and Holiness back in our Pulpits.

  15. John Thomas says

    If you ever doubted whether the UMC needs a gracious exit plan, I suggest you read the 2017 South Carolina Supreme Court case involving the split in the South Carolina Episcopal Church. The primarily issue was whether certain South Carolina Episcopal Churches could leave the denomination and keep their properties. The case began in early 2013 and took several years to reach the South Carolina Supreme Court. Even then, the Churches that lost the
    case filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court which later refused to hear the case. In the South Carolina Supreme Court case there were over 30 lawyers listed as involved with the case. There is no telling how much time, effort and millions of dollars on both sides were wasted simply because there was no gracious exit plan in place.

  16. William A St John says

    Dear Rob,
    I have read your article with great interest, and have a few comments to make: First, I was 36 years in Methodist ministry before the Lord found me, and I experienced salvation. I remember asking my district superintendent, in 1972, when there was a great bursting forth of non-denominational churches across the country, “Do you think someone is trying to tell us something?” His reply was, “No, it just means we have to work harder!” This attitude of pride and arrogance has been typical of many of the bishops of our church over the past 46 years. It is true that there is prevenient grace, through which the Spirit reaches out to us soften our hearts to receive the Good News. However, the only entrance to the grace of forgiveness and inclusion in the kingdom of God, is repentance. It appears to me that many of our bishops have given themselves over to their own pride and arrogance, thinking that they know far better than anyone else, what is the will of God for the church. The reason they could not come forth with a plan to hold the church together, is that they are totally closed to the possibility that they might be wrong. Therefore, their belief is that they have nothing to repent of. That is the same sin that led Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to want to crucify Jesus.
    Secondly, these same bishops have been misleading people into believing that they can be a part of the church, without the need for repemtamce. There are whole groups of LGBTQ persons who have not tasted salvation, because they have been taught to believe that sin is not sin, and that they continue in sin and enter God’s family. When I hear the bishops and others talking about the damage that was done to LGBTQ persons at the 2019 General Conference, I wonder if they ever consider the eternal damage they have done in teaching lies.
    Finally, I fully expect the bishops, and other progressives, to continue their stance of disobedience to the Bible, and the rulings of the General Conference. To do otherwise, would require a total change of heart, which their pride will simply not permit. It’s sad to me, that many of these people, who have given years of service to the church, will never hear those precious words from the lips opf Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” but instead will hear him say, “I never knew you!”

    • Be careful, William. You presume to speak for Jesus.

    • Donna Scott says

      Yes, the Gospel finally mentioned. Jesus died on the cross and paid the full price for our sins and rose from the dead. It was not for “inclusion” nor was it so we can define sin, but to deliver us from sin. I keep thinking about the group who met Wesley that night because they wanted to “flee the wrath to come.” Praying for my former denomination and so many fellow believers.

    • Genelle Thompson says

      I think you have reached the heart of the issue. We need to come to our knees and repent. There is resistance to label LGBT as sin. We resist confessing out pride. We do not call to question our own salvation. Until we individually and as a church go to God on our knees we will not have faced or dealt with this issue nor will we have given it a chance for resolution.

  17. Forbes Matonga says

    Thank you my Brother Rob for your candid talk. My honest views is that we have no pressure as the “Traditionalists ” ad I was labelled by one executive of our Agencies. We warned about the flaws of the process leading to St Louis but were ignored by those who thought they were positioned to ” win”. Now that they “lost ” at their own game we should not absorb their grieving. Let’s give them time to deal with their grief. If they desire a repeat of St Louis as you rightly said,we are more than prepared for it. We have always been sincere and genuine but always taken advantage of. We had agreed that at the close of the 2016 General Conference we were supposed to halt all hurtful language and actions but what did we receive? Election and Consecration of a Lesbian Bishop and open disobedience to the Church Law. To expect sincere engagement from the other side is indeed out of my grasp. The General Conference is the Highest decision making body of the UMC. When it speaks we must obey but look at what is happening. As Africa we have been threatened with funds withdrawals for expressing our convictions. I think let things go the way they are going. History is being made. The Truth shaĺl come out and that TRUTH shall make us free.

  18. Jim Fuquay says

    The clock is not ticking for me. I sent a letter to two bishops and my pastor expressing my disgust with the Conference outcome. After 70 years attending the UMC I have no interest in debating traditionalists. I’m outa here! Congrats to Mr. Renfro for having his “views prevail” again. Until the One Plan folks separate from the hypocrites who parse “love your brother as yourself” into something exclusive I have no desire to be among the Traditionalists.

  19. Jim Fuquay says

    I tried to leave a comment for the first time ever. My comment was not in agreement with the author of this article. I received a note after submitting the comment that it was a duplicate. That’s baloney. Are the Traditionalist already censoring comments they don’t like?

    • Well,

      All I can tell you Jim is that on 3/26/19 at 11 AM I read both of your posts. So maybe you might want to retract your ‘censoring comments they don’t like’ accusation?

      Maybe you need to rethink your opinion of people who voted for the historic understanding of the Church concerning sexual ethics and actions too. Calling other Christians hypocrites and abusing the Scriptures because they disagree with you is a lie and a very destructive accusation to the Church and individuals.

      I doubt you will rethink your opinion of the website or the Traditional Plan, that’s your decision. So let me ask you the next logical question, should we leave the denomination, or should you leave the denomination? If yes, what’s the price the leaving side should pay for leaving the denomination?

  20. Ben Vernon says

    Rob’s assessment is spot on, as usual. I’m thankful for his efforts. Going into 7 battles is difficult at best. When I look at how other denominations split I see a bloody mess where the losses were heavy on all sides and the church that Jesus established was severely diminished. My prayer is that if we split that we at least can avoid such a terrible witness for Christ unfolding. Sadly, the truth is that denominational schism is messy, terrible business, but business that the church must sometimes conduct. May those who have not come to faith in Christ not be turned further away because of what they see happen in the UMC. May what emerges bring an Orthodox truthful witness of salvation to those who face a worse peril than concerns over institutions and pensions.

  21. David Barbaree says

    Rev. Renfro, I’m curious about your thoughts on Rev. Dr. Jerry Kulah’s letter to Rev. Dr. Mark Holland. Has Rev Kulah given a good representation of the Good News Network’s position on U.S. churches who are disavowing the Traditional Plan? I really would like to hear a statement from Good News that either endorses, modifies, or criticizes the Bishop’s letter. Thanks.

    • US churches, bishops, district superintendents, clergy, and laity who are disavowing the Traditional Plan need to finally step up to the plate and demonstrate that they truly do disavow the plan with constructive action instead of endless words and destructive action — and separate from the UMC and either form a new US centric denomination or migrate to those that already have similar one church plans Unless they do that, then the only conclusion would be is that they’re staying to damage the UMC or to finally take it down.

  22. You have sewed the wind, now you must reap the whirlwind.
    With it comes a lot of unintended consequences. As you know from being a pastor, church life is in many ways delicate. Emotions run really deep. GC19 really was significant. The wound in the heart may heal, but the scar will remain. The progressive wing of the church will NEVER forget this watershed. So now we got a lot of wounded people. That’s a big psychic toll to deal with. This isn’t grief. This is trauma.

    • How can there be wounded people from upholding the Gospel? Trauma? Trauma was the death of Jesus on the cross who took on the sins of the world and died there as ransom for our sins. Trauma? Rejecting Jesus there on the cross by refusing to repent, by rejecting redemption, by turning aside his saving grace, and by rejecting transformation will result in the ultimate of all traumas beyond all understanding on that day of judgement.

  23. Robert A Combes says

    this is part of the price we pay as Protestants w/ no clear authoritative head. He has heard our cries and how shall we respond? Who will unite us under the traditional understanding?
    1 Timothy 6 3-5 Berean Study
    If anyone teaches another doctrine and disagrees with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and with godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. Instead, he has an unhealthy interest in controversies and semantics, out of which come envy, strife, abusive talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind who are devoid of the truth. These men regard godliness as a means of gain.

  24. Great article Rob! The ideological aim of so-called progressives is a complete sellout to popular culture and an accommodation of falsehood over truth.

    Let the great divide begin….

    • Translation: “If you are a progressive, you aren’t a REAL Christian!”

      Matthew 7 comes to mind.

      Bah. I’m done here. This kind of view is way to prevalent on this site. I humbly suggest that you folks check your Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors logos – probably not a good message for you to try to push.

  25. Stephen Rhoades says

    Thanks, Rob. I appreciate both the spirit and the content of this reflection. Like you, I believe our Council of Bishops has failed the church. I won’t try to ascribe motives for the failure (since I’m not even wise enough to properly discern my own motives for behavior). I do, however, fault many of our bishops for trivializing the chasm that exists between orthodox United Methodists and members who are “centrist” and progressive. Anyone who reads the torrent of responses since GC ’19 must concede our differences are much larger than sexual ethics. I hope and pray grown-ups on both sides of the chasm can channel their energies into finding an equitable plan of separation.

  26. Mark Brewer says

    We have many today who do not accept traditional marriage because we have forgotten what marriage is. From the very beginning in the Book of Genesis it says that God created them male and female and throughout the Bible it goes on to describe the roles of men and women. Marriage between a man and a woman is central to what the Bible says.

    Homosexuality has now become widespread and widely accepted in our society. Two thousand years of Christian tradition have argued against homosexuality as an honored lifestyle. This acceptance of homosexuality in society and, unfortunately in the Church, did not arrive de novo. No, it only happened after pornography and sex outside of traditional marriage became mainstream. The acceptance of homosexuality is part of a continuum. We would not have same sex marriage being widely supported in the church today if we did not first go through the sexual revolution of the 1960s, a revolution that preached sex outside of marriage. If same sex marriage is the equivalent of holy matrimony, then why, may I ask did it take so long for us to discern that?

    Christianity called men and women to a higher standard. In pre-Christian pagan times men could have sex with other men, sex with adolescent boys, and sex with women outside of marriage and that was accepted. The so-called progressives are not really progressive, at all, but are regressive in that they tout a lifestyle that is pre-Christian and pagan. The Apostle Paul was well aware of pagan lifestyles. He traveled widely in order to preach vehemently against them. Paul was calling Christians to a new standard. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians want to retreat from that standard and join the tidal wave of the popular culture. They need discernment.

    I get tired of progressives claiming that they are the enlightened ones and we traditionalists are on the wrong side of history. I hate that reference to “the wrong side of history”. History doesn’t always move in the right way. It sometimes moves in the wrong way. I think Paul would have something to say about just who are really the enlightened.

    I also get tired of the so-called progressives saying that by holding traditionalist views we are not welcoming to the LGBT population. We all have sinned and fallen short. LGBT people are welcomed. But as Christians we should not hold their lifestyle up to be something that is honored and is to be emulated; something to be preached from the pulpit. All, however, may come as my brothers, sisters, and fellow sinners to the Table.

    Yes, we have forgotten what marriage is. Marriage brings a and a woman together in order to produce children. Fathers and mothers are to teach their children how to behave as men and women or, if you will, ladies and gentlemen. You cannot change the meaning of marriage merely by calling something that is not a marriage by the word “marriage”.

    And no, I am not a Bible thumper or one who reads the Bible literally in a strict literal word for word sense. The Bible is too important of a work to be read in this way. It teaches truths beyond a strictly literalist interpretation; truths that are more important than just “facts”.

  27. Kenneth Williams says

    Fifteen years ago my wife and I stepped away from the UMC and joined a non-denominational church. A major reason for this abandonment was because we felt that the UMC had not been consistently adhering to biblical guidance regarding marriage. We have now rejoined the UMC since biblical discipline has recently been reestablished. You may find many more members that have drifted away from the UMC now returning!

  28. From here? Mark Holland, Adam Hamilton, et al — go forth and start a new American secular cultural centric “church”. First, get behind a generous exit plan at General Conference 2020, vote for the plan, and exercise your option of following said plan as you exit the UMC.

    https://mainstreamumc.com/blog/5-reasons-to-consider-a-u-s-church/

  29. Thomas Luther says

    I would encourage the UMC to put term limits on bishops and even consider no longer having bishops. I think most would agree they have been a waste of the Lord’s resources. Love the sinner and hate the sin is sound teaching, but too many in the UMC love both the sin and the sinner and in so doing they separate the sinner from God for all eternity. That doesn’t sound like something a follower of Christ would do! But it does sound like what the devil wants us to do.

    • The harm being inflicted is actually coming from those inside the church who are propagandizing that the Traditional Plan is responsible. By joining the mass media, which of course is mostly anti-Christ, they are spreading an egregious lie. Is there a bigger sin than leading people away from Jesus?

      ALL ARE WELCOME IN THE UMC TO COME — BE HEALED, BE SAVED FROM THE EVIL ONE, BE TRANSFORMED ANEW IN JESUS CHRIST, AND INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. NO HARM CAN POSSIBLY COME FROM THIS GOOD NEWS!!

      http://wesleyancovenant.org/2019/04/04/lgbtq-people-are-welcome-in-the-united-methodist-church/

  30. Joe Webb says

    Is there room, or a need, for one more comment? This thought on a denominational split: the Progressives should form the new denomination or be tied anew to the overseas conferences. Theirs should be totally new (though with an appropriate split of UMC assets, boards, etc.). The Traditional Plan remains true to Scripture and Wesley and those conferences and churches who adhere to Church Discipline should NOT give up the good name “Methodist.”

  31. Looking at United Methodism since GC 2019 reminds me of the scene in The Wizard of Oz movie where water is thrown on the wicked witch. Knowing that water will make her dissolve, she writhes in anguish, like a kitten struck by a car, until she finally dissolves into nothing, screaming all the way to dissolution. We’re in the screaming/dissolving stage right now. We know that God and His Word will never dissolve, but a divided church which will not discern God’s truth—? We’ll see.

  32. Rev. Merrill Bender says

    An amicable split will still leave two bureaucracies and still leave a mix of progressives that will stay with the traditional to fight for another 50 years. Best option is the “disaffiliation” motion passed as the minority report at GC 2019 or a total suspension of the Trust clause so that each church can go the independent route. METHODISTS UN-TIED —- UNSHACKLED & FREE —-
    LET MY PEOPLE GO!

  33. Though many of us may not know enough about the GC 2019 minority report referenced above to have an opinion, it sounds like a move that means such free churches are no longer Methodist. Churches that do not subscribe to the Discipline or remain connectional are not entitled to the name Methodist, at least in my opinion. If parts of the hierarchy disavow Church Discipline, are they true Methodists or have any longer a claim to that good Name? Let the ‘non-Methodist’ go.

  34. Ron Kapalka says

    Three years have been wasted on a fight that never ends. Are we that tied to a”church” that we ignore reality? This is a train wreck that gets worse. I think of the trucks slamming into each other on 1-80 in a snow storm. Where will it end. One gets stopped them creamed by the one behind him. I am recently retired and associate with a small traditional UMC. But my heart has left it. I attended the WCA in Dallas and Atlanta, hoping to hear that a new movement would be announced. Now we wait another year. Local churhes here are failing, people leave everytimee the UMC is in the news. They are gone. They will not come back. Twenty friends have joined the Nazarene church It is now their home. Many others are scattered among the Baptists and other congregations. Keep the property? That has some wisdom, but the major church here is a black hole of maintance. Do we not have enough faith to leave and rent? Why would we sell our soul to that building when freedom looms one decision away? Unity? Blah!

  35. Rev. Jezreel J. Saceda says

    GC2019 and the Judicial Council’s affirmation are both water under the bridge, let’s continue to love God supremely and each other equally.

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