“UMC Next” Counters Traditional Plan

Conveners, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, Rev. Junius Dotson, Bishop Mike McKee, Rev. Adam Hamilton

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson (North Georgia), Bishop Mike McKee (North Texas), the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior minister of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, and the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of the denomination’s Discipleship Ministries, were part of the convening team of a meeting organized to strategize its opposition to the Traditional Plan adopted by the United Methodist Church at the 2019 General Conference.

More than 600 gathered at Hamilton’s mega-church in Leawood, Kansas, for the invitation-only gathering called “UMC Next.”

“The term resistance is grounded in our baptismal vows,” said Dotson, according to a United Methodist News Service report. “We promise to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. So there are many forms of resistance, and people have to decide how they will participate.”

Among the stated commitments in the press release of the new group: “We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.” Those gathered also pledged: “We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons….”

After reading the press release of “UMC Next,” the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News, issued the following response:

“The 2019 General Conference was proof that there is an impasse within The United Methodist Church with two irreconcilable viewpoints. Good News is disappointed that it appears from their press release that the institution-minded leadership of ‘UMC Next’ is determined to double down on the conflict in our church and refuse to acknowledge the decision made by the St. Louis General Conference reaffirming over 45 years of consistent United Methodist teaching.

“It does not seem that resistance and defiance against one’s own denomination and against brothers and sisters in Christ are fruitful paths toward maintaining either the unity or integrity of the church. Such a strategy only increases the likelihood of more damaging clashes at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.

“At this point, it seems that traditionalists and conservatives in The United Methodist Church have more in common with the progressive UM Forward group that met May 17-18 in seeking a new way forward toward fresh expressions of Methodism, than we do with the two bishops, an agency head, and tall-steeple pastors leading the moderate ‘UMC Next’ group.

“We are, and always have been, willing to talk with any conversation partners interested in finding a different way to diffuse the conflict in our church and move forward in a positive and mutually respectful way. We feel certain that not all those present at the ‘UMC Next’ meeting believe that the best course forward is to continue the battle that was fought and that did so much harm in St. Louis.

“There is a better way and we will gladly work to end the fighting with all who desire to do so. Refighting the same battles will only generate more harm on all sides and further damage the witness of The United Methodist Church. However, we remain committed to upholding the clear teaching of Scripture and will oppose all attempts to lead our church away from faithful obedience to the Word of God, who is our ultimate Judge and the One we seek to please.”

Comments

  1. Thomas C. Hood says

    The Discipline of the United Methodist Church and the Holy Bible are two different books. To me it seems that a great deal of effort is being expended on trying to make them say the same thing. The aim of the Discipline is to preserve an organizational structure and justify its existence. The collection of books that make up the Holy Bible in its various translations has the aim of promoting the truth of a particular religious tradition, Christianity. The Bible itself has sparked much controversy over the years. Let us not let controversy over the Discipline take our focus away from finding what the Holy Bible has to say to us in this time and in this place.

  2. Joe Webb says

    This is no surprise. This group of ‘moderates’ will fight until they have their way. Traditionalists must leave the UMC in their mind and they will not rest until it happens. Sadly, GC 20 will be a repeat of GC 19, even worse. They will put on every political tactic possible to carry the day, and they may finally succeed. As with progressives, they tolerate everyone except those who disagree with them.

    • Unless they’re able to get the one church plan voted out of committee and approved in the plenary session in 2020 with fewer delegates than in 2019 — of course Traditionalists should not leave. It sure looks like Traditionalist have started on a long and laborious road to righting this denomination. If it takes the next fifty years to right what has been made wrong these past fifty years, it. will be well worth it. Traditionalists must now build on the unity that has emerged, a unity built on the Word of God that can’t be broken, and move boldly forward in love preaching and teaching the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ from a church structure built for the purpose of actually carrying out our mission. Traditionalists are offering to negotiate a separation. At present, progressives are offering a mixture of messages from continued lawbreaking to a new denomination. Traditionalists have been completely transparent and consistent from the beginning because they stand on non-changing Scriptural authority. There they must continue to stand, as Tom points out.

  3. Gary Bebop says

    Adam Hamilton and the party in his train are counting on a wave of momentum to shock and overwhelm the Traditional Plan in advance of 2020. Tom and Rob and others in orthodox leadership must become more vociferous and vigorous and resolved in resisting this wave. There is a concerted effort to throttle support for the Traditional Plan before its implementation can be realized. Many bishops are joining this mob. Resist this treachery.

  4. If they have not decided to disaffiliate from the UMC by General Conference 2020, then General Conference must at least begin the process of their disaffiliation.

  5. Is there any legal recourse that can be taken? The liberal group chooses to ignore the ruling of the only body, that can speak for the entire church. Blatantly flaunts disobedience against the discipline and seeks to radically change part of the very core of what traditionalists agreed too, when we took our vows in joining the church. I just want a separation so that we may continue in ministry, but if they will not peacefully agree to split, legal action maybe necessary. I would think the trust clause, could be called in question with such a fundamental direction change in the values that are being considered. Those that are much more knowledgeable in such matters of law and church, please look for precedents or possibly setting a new one.

    • creecher66 says

      Someone brought up binding arbitration. Still need representatives whether lawyers or just representatives at the table.

  6. “…and we will resist its implementation”. What right do they have to prevent implementation of anything that has been approved by GC? Does everyone else have the right to resist implementation of something that they like that passes at GC? They are basically saying, “we can nullify anything that GC passes that we don’t agree with.” If GC has approved their plan, today they would be proclaiming, “Get with the program: the church has approved same-sex marriage and clergy engaged in homosexual practices. Accept God’s Holy Decision or leave.”

    This is no way for “leaders” of a church to run the church’s operations or to respect those with which they disagree. These people need to have some integrity and excuse themselves from an institution with which they fundamentally disagree. There is no way to mend these fences; they have gone back into their progressive silos and are embracing denial.

  7. What will these bishops in attendance go back and tell their upcoming Annual Conferences? If I’m a pastor in one of these conferences, I can now pick and choose which parts of the Book of Discipline that I personally reject and resist with no reprisal? Do I have the same leeway as my bishop?

  8. Erika Gravely says

    Who developed the gracious exit plan? Wasn’t that strategically in place with a majority vote before the OCP was voted on in fear that it would pass? It seems like the tables have turned and the language here has done a 180. I dream of Traditionalists and Full-Inclusionists coming to the table for an amicable denominational split…many do…but one group is downright refusing to come to the table.

  9. As a lifelong Methodist, this has been very educational. It’s pretty simple, these bishops and elders can disregard disciplines and policy because they believe they have higher value. “We the people” of the UMC are not as valuable and full elders. That’s a very well known sentiment and swagger many, not most, elders walk with. They can do what they want and there’s no recourse or action for us laypeople to hold them accountable. We don’t own our buildings, they do. We paid for them all, but they weasled their way into our deeds and properties for decades. They seem to have offered us a way out, so long as we pay for the property we’ve already paid for.

    It’s thuggish and criminal behavior. They are trying to protect a system that’s justifiably falling apart. We don’t need the layers of laborious governing authority controlling us all. If all of the local churches were allowed to go our own ways, we’d be fine. More than fine. The only ones hurting would be the administrative folks and the bishops. Freedom sounds pretty good. This is my last run with the UMC and I have no interest in joining another massively governed future denomination either. While I’m a “conservative” theologically, I don’t trust those guys either. Keep your hands off our our properties.

  10. The tactics of the UMC-Next have been spelled out for the upcoming GC2020. The Annual Conferences that will be electing (Timing for Approaching or Past) the Delegates to that conference is the next battle ground. The UMC-Next will try to unbalance the Tradionalist delegates as powerfully as they can in the time frame that Delegates will be chosen. Local Church Delegates to Annual Conferences must be made aware of the impending importance of the Delegate Vote to GC2020.

    • Renee White says

      How’s that going for you?

      • The North Georgia Conference meets this week. This may be the bellwether conference to watch of how many Delegates are chosen for each side. There are 29 Conferences that have already met out of 55. Tactics have been implemented for the Progressive side to flip the Delegates. Traditional Delegates have not been as visable as the Progressives. Regardless of the outcome next May; the Church will not remain the same.

  11. If the liberals prevail at General Conference 2020, then the Wesleyan Covenant Association must immediately move to put their new denomination in place by moving swiftly to utilize the new exit path. It would be a global denomination out of the starting gate. Let Adam Hamilton and his cohorts have what remains of this mostly “dead sect” (John Wesley) with its bloated, costly, ineffective, wasteful, non-accountable bureaucracy and all the liberal clergy and bishops who will be looking for jobs. Can they financially support all this with ten associate elders at each church and all those high salaried general church liberal bishops, agency heads, and supporting staffs? The new denomination would have absolutely no problem finding highly qualified people to preach the gospel and manage its refined, restructured, and financially efficient church.

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