Are Traditionalists “Leaving” The United Methodist Church?

By Tom Lambrecht –

The recently announced separation plan called the “Protocol on Reconciliation and Grace through Separation” has aroused many reactions in and beyond the church. Some are satisfied and even hopeful that the long-running conflict in our church can finally be over and traditional and evangelical United Methodists will be free to pursue ministry without being hampered by discord or a dysfunctional denominational structure. Local churches will get to keep their buildings, property, and assets and will need to make no extra payments to move into the new traditionalist Methodist denomination.

Others are upset and angry over provisions of the agreement they believe are unfair. We have heard the criticisms of the plan. We understand them. Many of them are legitimate. Clearly, there are several unfair provisions. I will be addressing them in future articles.

The most common criticism I have heard of the agreement is that traditionalists are leaving The United Methodist Church, rather than it being an equal separation. The follow-up comment is that since traditionalists “won” the vote in the St. Louis special General Conference in 2019, it should be those who want to change the church who have to leave, not those who want to maintain the current doctrine and discipline of the church.

This is a perfectly valid point. In a perfect and just world, those who want to change the church’s understanding of marriage and ordination would leave and those who want to keep the church’s long-standing teachings could remain. We do not live in a perfect or just world, however.

This agreement did not come down from God on Mt. Sinai like the Ten Commandments. It is a negotiated agreement worked out between factions in the church that deeply disagree with one another and do not trust one another. The fact that there is an agreement at all is astounding and a testament to the dedication of the participants and the perseverance of the mediator.

In negotiated settlements, it is not what is right or fair that determines the outcome, but what is possible. I’m convinced this agreement is the best possible agreement that could be reached and is preferable to all other likely alternatives.

What happened in 2019?

At the 2019 General Conference, traditionalists made a good-faith effort to bring about unity in the church through compliance with the Book of Discipline, the governing document of the church. It maintained the current teaching and standards of the church, while attempting to increase accountability of bishops and clergy to live by those standards.

Since February, it has become readily apparent that this attempt at unity through compliance did not work. More than half the annual conferences in the U.S. declared their opposition to the provisions enacted in the Traditional Plan. A number of annual conferences and bishops have declared that they will not abide by the provisions of the Discipline. The Greater New Jersey Annual Conference is even trying to write its own Book of Discipline!

This widespread disarray indicates that the church cannot achieve unity through compliance. The gate-keepers on enforcing the Discipline are the bishops. If some bishops are unwilling to enforce the Discipline and plan to simply ignore its requirements, there is nothing the larger church can do about it. The accountability process for bishops envisioned in the Traditional Plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. The accountability process proposed by Bishop Scott Jones and others that relies upon the Council of Bishops to hold other bishops accountable depends upon having a majority of the Council willing to exercise that accountability. At this point and into the foreseeable future the majority of the Council favors changing the church’s requirements and will decline to hold colleague bishops accountable.

Since unity through compliance is not possible, and unity through allowing for “local option” (each annual conference and local church making its own rules about marriage and ordination) does not have the votes to pass General Conference, the only apparent way to resolve the conflict is some form of separation. The recent agreement recognizes this fact and provides a way for the church to go in two different directions. We should not discount the fact that, for the first time, some of our leading bishops and other church leaders have finally acknowledged that separation is the only viable way forward for the church.

How to Separate

The fairest way to separate would be to dissolve The United Methodist Church and create two or more new denominations with new names. Such an approach is unworkable because it requires changes to the constitution, which needs a two-thirds vote at General Conference and a two-thirds vote of all the annual conference members (which could take up to two years). Most self-described centrists and progressives are against dissolving the church, as are many Africans and Europeans. Dissolving the church and starting over would most likely not reach even a majority vote, let alone the two-thirds vote required.

So any form of separation that General Conference adopts will have to have a continuing United Methodist Church and a group or groups that form something new. The closest to an equal plan of separation under this precondition is the Indianapolis Plan. However, that plan did not resolve the contentious issue of a division of assets. Furthermore, it encountered fierce opposition from key leaders in the centrist camp, who believe it comes too close to dissolving the denomination. To pass the Indianapolis Plan would require a major fight at General Conference, which could degenerate into a repeat of the vitriol of St. Louis. And its passage is by no means certain, as the margin for traditionalists is projected to be very slim.

The leaders of the Renewal and Reform Coalition decided that it would be better to support a plan that is less fair, but promised a definitive end to the conflict, was much more certain to pass, and would give traditionalists a way to separate while keeping their buildings and property.

Throughout the last year, many progressives and centrists have vowed not to leave the church, but to stay and continue to fight to change the church’s teachings and standards. It is true that a few very progressive annual conferences and a few high-profile progressive leaders have announced plans to prepare to possibly leave the denomination. But the vast majority would stay, and the fight would continue. It is therefore unrealistic to hope that most centrists and progressives would voluntarily leave the church. No matter what good legislation General Conference adopts, if there is no way to obtain compliance, the Discipline is not worth the paper it is written on. Any attempt on traditionalists’ part to keep on fighting for the current teachings of the church would entail another 20 years of conflict, rebellion, disobedience, and vitriol that would destroy the church. While attempting to force out those unwilling to live by the Discipline, the church would also lose many traditionalists who are sick of the fighting and want to maximize their ministry of the Gospel rather than spend millions of dollars, time, and energy fighting a battle against those who will not be convinced.

If we were to fight to hang on to The United Methodist Church, traditionalists would also be saddled with trying to either maintain or reform an intractable bureaucracy that is often counterproductive to local church ministry. Every single general board or agency except United Methodist Communications endorsed the One Church Plan. Most of those boards and agencies are staffed by people who want to change the church’s teachings and do not share our traditional theological perspective. To reform and reclaim these agencies would be a monumental task that would again drain valuable resources from actual ministry. Better to walk away from these entrenched agencies and start something new that can be much more streamlined and oriented toward resourcing and empowering local church ministry. If we can drastically lower denominational overhead, we can pour more resources into supporting our central conferences outside the U.S. and engaging in innovative, effective ministry to the unchurched and marginalized people in our world.

The use of the United Methodist name and cross and flame logo has also been of great concern. Once again, we have heard the concerns. We understand them. I will be writing on that issue in a separate blog after the implementing legislation for the separation agreement is finalized. I will also be addressing in a future article the apparent unfairness of the amount of money traditionalists will receive from the general church assets that generations of traditional United Methodists have contributed to over the years.

It is understandable for some to see it as though traditionalists will be “leaving” The United Methodist Church. A better way of describing it is that traditionalists will be separating from a denomination that has left them theologically and seizing this opportunity to create a new traditionalist Methodist movement. No, this agreement is not as fair to traditionalists as we hoped it would be. But it promises a definitive end to the conflict in our denomination and provides an unparalleled opportunity for a fresh start that can create a new denomination that can go forward in unity of belief, vision, and mission. When we have had a chance to process our anger, frustration, disappointment, and grief, we can either choose to dig in our heels in an unrealistic hope for a better deal, or we can focus on the positives of what this deal makes possible for us. I, for one, am excited about what the Lord can and will do through a new expression of Methodism. We can walk into this new future together.

Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News. 

Comments

  1. James Hoven says

    under the new protocol who owns the church property?

    • Michael Long says

      The local church would – at least in those churches who opt to align with the Traditionalist denomination.

  2. Tom,

    I think you have explained a lot that has bothered many, and thank you for addressing some of these issues.

    None-the-less, we are in a conference progressives have dominated. All new clergy delegates just elected a few months back are progressive. At lease 30-40% of laity are progressive. Conference staff are progressive. With that kind of “support” will the Protocol allow each church’s membership to vote on whether they leave to form the new traditional denomination or stay in the progressive UMC?

    I know many of these details will hopefully be finalized at GC in May, but one of the big questions is will each church in the AC get to vote to leave or stay, and when in the process will that be? Also will it be a simple majority vote?

    • I know of some churches in the NC conference that are not even having the discussion about this. There will be no church conference, and no vote by the congregation. The church councils intend to make the decision for their congregation. This approach will fail as the main stream media frenzy over this in May, but nonetheless, that’s the plan.

  3. Tom,
    There are five plans, including this Protocol Plan, posted on the UMC website in the form of a chart. I am afraid that at least 90% of UMC members are unfamiliar with these plans or even what they’re actually addressing. I am afraid that a significant number of UMC members are just now beginning to become aware that there’s a serious conflict in the church yet are not really aware of the true content of that conflict. I am MOST AFRAID that the liberals in this fight will use every means at their disposal to take full and complete advantage of these realities in attempting to persuade as many as possible by all means possible to stay put and be loyal to the post-separation UMC and not join this separatist church. Misinformation is already in wide circulation and will only gather steam, much of which will be coming from the current church bureaucracy in so many ways — much of which will be subtle, suggestive, and downright deceptive. Then there’s the friendly culture and media that’s already aiding and abetting this.

    How to get the truth, the facts, and the real differences, especially Biblical differences, of the two denominations, irregardless of their names, into the hands of the people called Methodists is the challenge. Methodists have always valued education. How to make sure they’re truthfully and objectively educated about this schism in order to make an informed decision is the challenge of our age.

  4. John Loper says

    Sorry Tom, to say that we are “separating” rather than “leaving” and that this is somehow something we should celebrate has a rather hollow ring to it, and seems to be little more than a rather poorly disguised attempt at a play on words. Under the present “political cloud” it appears that being “kicked out” is a more accurate description of the situation faced by a majority of the church. Just a month ago “Good News” said that there were “no winners and no losers” in this disagreement. It would appear that this is not the reality. Not even close.

    • John, I think there is a clear winner. Traditionalist walking away from a damaged brand, with decreasing membership, stymied tithing, a name that has become synonymous with infighting and homosexuality, an unsustainable overhead of debt, and business entities that are money pits, is a good thing. Progressives who have led the charge that has left the UMC brand as popular as ENRON deserve to keep what they have built.

      Bishops have created empires for themselves to substantiate the need for their existence. This link is pictures of the North Carolina Conference headquarters. This is what small churches are paying to support. Other than a new pastor every once in a while, this all a small church gets out of supporting this opulent building.

      https://moyockchristian.org/2020/01/18/what-is-this-and-why-is-it-so-hard-to-find-these-pictures-on-the-internet/

  5. Pastor Tom,
    I desire to say this as lovingly and directly as possible. Prior to GC2019, the traditional forces, mustered by GN and WCA, were charged to vote for the traditional plan and take solace in being genuine Wesleyans in our belief and practice. This is exactly what happened. Now, less than 12 months later, GN and WCA are suggesting that traditionalists should reinterpret the 2019 victory as defeat and leave the UMC, in name, membership and, perhaps, without their property. No one within the GN or WCA forces can speak with authority as to exactly what will happen during GC2020. However, when the traditional side has already given away so much, despite the GC2019 victory, the mind can only imagine what indignities might lay ahead. I am secure in the belief that someday in the realms of eternity, the cadre of UMC bishops will be asked to explain their refusal to support the BOD that they pledged to uphold. God will hold all liars and deceitful charlatans accountable. However, I am absolutely heart-sick over the response and capitulation of GN and WCA. You maintain that the “greater good” is served by separation and moving on as distinctly different groups. However, for the balance of my lifetime, no matter what new name might be assigned by some slick marketing firm, all actions and business conducted under the UMC banner will continue to be laid at the feet of the traditional church, also. It may well take two or three generations before UMC and whatever the traditional church is named begin to be thought of as separate and distinct bodies. A true disservice has been done…and I’m not sure whether the damage was done by the progressives or the leadership of the traditionalists!

  6. Jef Stemple says

    The separation should have occurred in 1972. Since it is what it is, should the new expression of Methodism resemble less an apostolic extension of the NT and more a clone of USAmerican right wing politics, then the new ‘traditionalist denomination’ will be as heretical as the remaining UMC.

  7. Ommer Everson says

    Will the WCA and Good News along with others, get the information about this new traditional church to every UMC church out there or will that be “dependent” on UMC Communications, Agency’s and Clergy? If it is the latter 3, everyone wasted time.

    Also, why not just use the traditional votes at GC 2020 to bring in a more traditional, biblical judicial council? We could play hardball like the left. You mentioned the JC saying the Bishops proposal was ruled unconstitutional. If we appoint a few more good Biblical members to the JC, the Bishops can be held accountable.

    • Hello Ommer, thanks for your input on this subject. Are you saying that we should fire and replace the members of the Judicial Council, the Bishops, the administrative boards and agencies, as well as the people managing and staffing the seminaries? All of those entities are firmly in the progressive/centrist camp. Maybe leaving all that bureaucracy behind, retaining our church property, and setting up a new church would cause less pain.

    • Ommer,

      I agree with Dan, leaving everything behind is the best approach. The UMC brand is as popular as ENRON. Nothing good can come from holding on to that. It would take a decade or two to repair the damage to the brand. That time can be better spent ministering the needs of our communities. All of the boards and business entities are entrenched with liberal progressives. Cleaning out leadership and replacing them would be laborious and likely not produce the desired result.

      The business entities of the UMC are money pits that should have been outsourced years ago. They are best left behind. I published the article in the link below on the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Another practice best left behind. It’s time to move on.

      https://moyockchristian.org/2020/01/18/what-is-this-and-why-is-it-so-hard-to-find-these-pictures-on-the-internet/

  8. Houston Parks says

    I respect the pastor’s pitch for the Protocol solution. I respectfully submit, however, that traditional Methodists will be the losers UNLESS a very appealing plan for a new church is crafted. No one is going to want to leave the UMC and sign up with a hastily or poorly planned traditional church. It galls me that the UMC could not amicably compromise and resolve this dispute and, instead, is punting these divisive issues to individual churches. It seems to me that the progressives, typically, are demanding their way and suppressing their opponents. Progressives have won over a majority of the country in secular ways and they want to take over mainline churches as well. Progressives do not quit until they win the war. It’s quite hard for traditionalists and the orthodox to swim against modernity. If are to swim, and not drown into irrelevance, I again say that work must begin now on what a new church will look like and how it will function. That work must be intense and visionary, and it must not stop until a lean, efficient, and reverent new church is developed. Perhaps it can be called the Wesleyan Christian Church. Otherwise, traditional, orthodox local churches may decide that change is not worth the heartache and headache, and that they might as well abandon their preference and better judgment and become a distinct and ignored minority in the continuing UMC.

    • This is why bible believers are described as a “remnant” in scripture. Of course the worldly have an advantage, for a season, in a fallen world. Bible believers are aliens on their turf and, for a season, the dregs (as Paul puts it) in this world. This allows the theological liberals to win battles, but never the war. The faithful win in the end.

      The enormous lesson to be learned from the UMC failure by the true Church of all faith traditions is the old principle of “possession is 9/10 of the law.” The BOD never mattered. General Conference even less. Have no faith in constitutions. In retrospect, the merger of 1968 should have never happened at all, and the orthodox should have seen it more clearly. The new denomination must heed this lesson. The liberals got control of the physical spaces – bishop seats, boards, and agencies, and just squatted, flouted the written law, and refused to move. That simple.

      They’ll be moved in the end, to the glory of our Lord.

    • You may know, but the WCA already has a proposed Book of Discipline, some sections still incomplete.
      https://wesleyancovenant.org/2019/11/06/wesleyan-covenant-association-releases-book-of-doctrines-and-discipline/

  9. Houston Parks says

    Also, I think it will be very important where the overseas churches land on this. The new church will have more orthodoxy, more appeal, and more prospect for explosive growth if it includes a significant number of Methodists in Africa, Asia, Europe, etc.

  10. Truth is this is political power struggle.
    The traditionalist and evangelical Methodists are stuck under leadership that effectively kills the witness, and this is an untenable position. From the books of Kings and Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, and the prophets, the Pauline and Johannine epistles, and Revelation – you know you have to separate from this leadershiip to flourish.
    The power structure in place is meant to crush dissent, and at the same time they own the American seminaries so there is almost zero possibility of renewal from the within the bureaucracy (they are not going to allow conservatives in) – it’s time to get out while there is anything to preserve – primarily fellowship with other parts of the world that have been successfully evangelized and believe in Biblical authority. Excising the whole bureaucratic, social justice “affirming” (vs. Christ’s justification and sanctification required for personal holiness) is a necessary step.

    all that said, the communication on the individual American church level to people in the pews is going to be very difficult. Most of these people are not political in nature at all.

    But, the UMC brand is so so tarnished. See the picture accompanying the linked article. If you were interested in serving the risen Savior, would you set foot in a church associated with this, much less if this represented the pastoral leadership of your church?: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/liberal-methodists-toss-out-the-africans/

  11. As this schism kicks into high gear, are we being reminded of how far this church has drifted from its Wesleyan roots, even leaving traditionalists sometimes feeling overwhelmed by a worldly intrusion into the denomination thus making it challenging reclaiming and proclaiming the true Gospel?

    I pray that traditionalists can relight the torch of Wesleyan theology and bring it to the masses in the church as a shining beacon of light so that each and every Methodist will come to know the meaning of Wesley’s grace again and to which of the two emerging denominations will be carrying this TRUTH forward.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………

    JOHN WESLEY AND GRACE

    Scripture teaches that we are incapable of achieving holiness under our own power. Instead, we receive it as a gift because of God’s great love for each and every one of us. Christians use the word grace to describe the gift of God doing for us what we cannot do on our own. Read more from The Book of Discipline.

    Wesley taught that God’s grace is with each of us throughout our lives. By grace God prepares us, justifies us, and then continues grow us as followers of Jesus Christ.

    Prevenient Grace

    Wesley taught that God loves everyone, and invites all of us to be in right relationship with him. Because we are unable to do this on our own, God prepares our hearts and minds to accept Jesus’s invitation to follow him before we are even aware of it. As we read in the Bible, “But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

    By God’s grace, we recognize our brokenness, long for something more, and learn from Christians who show us God’s love by word and example. Wesley called this prevenient grace, which simply means the grace that “comes before” we know or love God.

    Justifying Grace

    The Bible teaches, “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith” (Ephesians 2:8). This means salvation is not something we deserve or earn, but something that God has done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    When we recognize our sinfulness (which Wesley taught happens by God’s “convicting grace”) and repent, we receive God’s forgiveness and are called to live a new life of following Jesus by loving God and our neighbors. We receive this gift out of what Wesley called God’s justifying grace, because we are “made right” with God. Our relationship is restored.

    Sanctifying Grace

    The moment of justification is the beginning of a wonderful journey with Jesus toward holiness of heart and life. As we participate in God’s work in the world through acts of piety like worship and prayer and acts of mercy like serving others and working for justice for our neighbors, we make ourselves available to God who forms us into the likeness of Jesus.

    Wesley sometimes said that God “perfects” us by his grace, but he never intended that to mean we would never make a mistake. Instead, Wesley taught that by God’s grace we would stop sinning intentionally when made perfect in both our love of God and neighbor. We do not wish to harm either of those relationships.

    This process, which we might call spiritual growth today, is not something we do. Instead, it is God who lovingly works in us and for us. Wesley called this sanctifying grace—the grace by which God makes us holy in heart and life.

    • RONALD URBANO KEITH MARTIN says

      And eventually, longingly, we anticipate that glorifying grace in His likeness and presence with our trinitarian Jehovah God!

  12. James TYewll says

    The “Deep Church” apparently exists and is very alive.

  13. I think many traditionalist haven’t grasped just yet how tainted the United Methodist brand is right now. Further after the next mainstream media frenzy in May, the UMC moniker will take on an entirely new meaning. The UMC will become synonymous with gay church. There’s nothing wrong for that if you’re shopping for a gay church, but for traditionalist looking for a church, the UMC might very well be off the shopping list.

    As for the other aspect of traditionalist retaining the UMC and progressives leaving, that’s an entirely bad deal as stated in this article. Chief among and at the top of the bad deal list are the business entities of the UMC. They are riddled with debt, staffed with progressive leadership and take away from the grassroots ministries of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

    There is nothing like a fresh start, and this fresh start will allow Methodist to get back to work for God. We left our local UMC this past August, and we have flourished since then as Moyock Christian while retaining our Wesleyan traditions. We will formally announce a name change to New Wesleyan in the coming weeks. We have purchased the domain newwesleyan.org™ and will switch to that address after making our formal announcement.

  14. Stephen Reynolds says

    Apparently some folks are not reading their Bible. If Romans 1:24-28 was prayerfully read and applied this would have never been an issue.

  15. John Loper says

    The progressives know that this proposal for a new traditionalist denomination is so fraught with problems and hurdles to be overcome that it will be at best a momentary blip on the church’s radar before disappearing entirely. This is the only reason they agreed to it in the first place. When will we understand that these people do not merely disagree with us, they dislike us. Unfortunately, the Clergy Covenant that has been the embodiment of church law since the days of Wesley and Asbury is only a gentleman’s agreement. And a gentleman’s agreement requires the presence of a gentleman. Why would anyone think that the progressives will not simply invade the new denomination and fill it with their poison like they have done with the UMC? The culture of our times is in their favor and will not be satisfied until the victory is complete.
    This is not the end of the fight, it will go on. The sharks can smell the blood in the water and are circling the carcass waiting for the next opportunity to go in for the kill.

    • Michael McInnis says

      John, with all due respect – please don’t take this wrong – but it sounds like you are suggesting our situation is hopeless, therefore we might as well role over, surrender and die! (And you’re not alone in this; plenty of others seem to be caught in this negativism concerning the Protocol as well.)

      Our situation is far from hopeless – if you have been reading the comments of traditionalist leaders online, you know that many of them are encouraged that we may finally have a way forward out of this mess. None of them are claiming that this plan is “perfect” – Tom hasn’t done that here, either. NO PLAN THAT REQUIRES WIDE AGREEMENT AND COMPROMISE WILL GIVE US THE NEW CHURCH WE’RE ALL DREAMING OF ON A SILVER PLATTER!!!

      You are right – this is not the end of the fight; it will go on. But we will (Lord willing and GC2020 approves the majority of this proposal) have an opportunity for a fresh start, and because clergy and churches will be joining us voluntarily rather than under compulsion, they will be joining because they agree with us and affirm our theology and vision.

      As Tom wrote above, to try to stay, fight, and reform the current UMC (with its liberal and leftist leaders, bureaucracy and seminaries) would be a complete waste of time, money and energy.

      It’s time to prayerfully move forward, realizing that no agreement is going to be perfect (has the church itself ever been perfect?!), but we keep our eyes on the future and keep following Jesus in our lives and ministries. Amen? Amen!

  16. The lack of a hard and fast confession was one of the roots of the UMC’s failure.

    The new denomination should set forth a confession that is BEYOND DELIBERATION, cannot be voted on, is not open to debate or conferencing, is off-the-table for discussion, including at the same time high theology, polity, relationship to and separateness from the secular world, and boundaries for liberty, specific enough to bind clergy and laity going forward with a plain, unmistakable enforcement mechanism.

    The too-often cited myth of “freedom of the pulpit” is exactly what is not needed. The biblical principle of church discipline is included in the New Testament for a reason, it is a non-negotiable practice, all churches and denominations will fall without it. At what point in time church discipline came to be only about cheating husbands I am not sure – but its first and foremost purpose is to reprove and correct theological error in the Church.

    • Michael McInnis says

      Professor William J. “Billy” Abraham spoke to this very concern at the WCA meeting in Tulsa on Nov. 9th. You can find his talk (including a vimeo video of it) on the WCA website.

  17. We are about to enter a discernment time in the Methodist/United Methodist Church like none other in our lifetimes We are in full schism. This cannot be hidden from the masses of Methodists any longer. How can any Methodist miss this and that there will be two very distinct denominations, no matter their names? The new traditionalist denomination will be a continuation the old-historic Methodist denomination while the old-current name Methodist denomination will rapidly transition officially into a new, fully liberal denomination.

    So — with these TWO very distinct denominations, how can any Methodist not ask the same question — what’s will be the DIFFERENCE between the two? Short of walking away from the current church, how will any Methodist not be faced with the DECISION as to which denomination to belong?

    • The People of the Pew have not been informed properly over the years. Progressives have taken over the Power structure of the Church. The Board of Church & Society has placed many progressives in many slots of Administration from way back. They will not comply with the BoD. The Pew is still in the majority but are w/o power to make conformance to the BoD function properly. It is apparent Traditionalist will have to leave the stained glass windows for other accommodations. Evangelicals had to do that a few years ago. Methodist now face the same dilemma.

  18. As a traditionalist, one way or another I will be leaving the UMC, either as a congregation or as an individual. I am hoping it will be as a congregation. Paradoxically, the only reason I am staying is to vote to leave.

  19. Like Tim G., the only reason my membership remains in the UMC at this point is to vote with the traditionalists in my local congregation when the decision must be made by the congregation as to which separation path to take (traditional/evangelical or progressive). I have already voted with my feet and left the UMC church to worship God in a church of another denomination.

    • Tim, Paul, and Susan,

      Exactly. Fortunately, I am in a location with multiple Methodist Churches within relatively convenient driving distances. I really feel and pray for those traditional Methodists who do not have such an option. I know of one nearer by church that pays a significantly large apportionments payment that is solidly in the traditionalist camp and an active part of the WCA. My present congregation, I just don’t really know. This HAS NOT been discussed there, YET. I’m in a historically mostly conservative conference, but changing, with a liberal bishop. Something I just found out, and as you probably know, local congregations would have until Dec., 31, 2024 to leave their conference. This whole thing is going to be something to behold and like none of us have ever seen in our Methodist Church before.

      • The congregations that leave will do so early, as early as allowable. The more time that goes by, and it won’t take too long after GC2020, orthodox believers will start leaving individually for other denominations/churches, as the UMC will become significantly more radical pretty quickly. The more that happens, the less probable it will become for votes to be in place to leave in any congregation. The liberals know this, and this is why the mediated agreement is so unbalanced. There will be an initial flurry of congregations that leave, and those will mostly be well-known WCA bodies in bigger cities with the younger evangelicals. After that, it will trickle to just one now and then.

        I love the older/elderly evangelicals (it is them incurring the most injustice by the paltry $25 million). But in most cases they are beyond absorbing all of this. They are beyond leaving. They’d have voted to 20 years ago, but not now.

  20. Jack Groshans says

    Liberals and progressives have stated they will NOT leave the denomination. This is my analogy. An unfaithful wife admits she is unfaithful. Later she then sues for divorce. In her pursuit of what she considers JUST COMPENSATION, she takes the faithful husband to the cleaners. Most states have a NO FAULT divorce so the properties and funds are divided equally. This is NOT the case. The unfaithful wife gets almost everything, and the faithful husband should be glad he got rid of the unfaithful wife. It is over a period of time that the faithful husband realizes the unfaithful wife has squandered all she stole while in the court. Her original intent was to take EVERYTHING. Now the local church is left to decide if they should join with the unfaithful wife. Notice I said the LOCAL CHURCH, not the conferences. This is the sad part of being married to an unfaithful wife or husband. I did mention, this is ONLY an analogy. The conferences are the attorneys going after what they think is owed to them for going to court with their parties. Time will soon tell, who is the actual unfaithful when it comes to the SPIRIT.

  21. Gary Bebop says

    The sourpuss rationalizers who despise the Protocol should be held accountable for their fantasies of immaculate mediation. They obsess about slices of pie (the injustice of “the paltry 25 million”). In some households, the hand that cuts the pie gets a slightly larger slice. But a mediated Protocol settlement means the cutting didn’t happen in the kitchen out of sight. It was in front of the parties all the way, and the slices were agreed to. That’s why it’s fair.

    • When Vito Corleone offered his contractual partners an offer they could not refuse, it was also done in front of the parties all the way.

      • You are too influenced by Hollywood fiction. By your analogy the Protocol mediator played the role of a gangster, a ruthless, venal strong man who carved up the assets based on ownership and control. The analogy is false. The mediator was a disinterested (neutral) outsider with no claims on the church. The slices were cut as the participants agreed to, not as they were assigned.

        • The analogy simply asserts that the presence of all parties does not equate to fairness. End of analogy.

          Not sure what else to say. Every column on this Good News site has acknowledged that the Protocol is unbalanced to the disfavor of the traditionalists, but also that given the lack of an enforcement mechanism in the UMC, the Protocol should be accepted and traditionalists move forward for the cause of Christ.

          I’ve said nothing more than the exact same things.

          I disagree with your suggestion above that ownership and control were not central in the unbalanced product of the Protocol. The liberals seized the UMC denomination by squatting in the offices of bishops, the boards, the agencies, the seminaries. They took control of the physical spaces and disregarded any rule of law – basically exactly how gangs take control of economic systems. They simply took the stance, “We’re not moving out of our spaces, so go pound sand with your Book of Discipline and General Conferences.” In essence, the mediator of the Protocol legitimized their illegitimate practices.

          That’s what happened. Disagree all you like.

          • I agree. Our UMC leaders have decided that they will abide by no decision that they disagree with. Essentially, by not refusing to accept legitimate decisions made by our gc, they have taken our UMC hostage and are abusing their power.

            I also agree that this may be the best deal out there to be had. But, let’s not have any illusions that this is a good deal. Without major changes in defaults, %’s, and mandatory local church voting and parameters, there will be few churches vote to leave that aren’t already affiliated with the WCA.

            This will of course make a new traditional denomination easier to get off the ground, but it will sacrifice many traditional believers and small churches throughout the current UMC- especially in the midwest and north where those churches don’t have a cultural evangelical identity, but are orthodox believers who would like their churches to be renewed.

          • Gary Bebop says

            Tom and Rob have been very clear and careful to say that the Protocol is the only one that all parties were willing to agree to. The Protocol is a compromise. But the compromise was agreed to at the table. That’s why we say it’s fair-minded. Comparing it a wish list that can’t be enacted isn’t reasonable. That’s just sour grapes. See Tom’s latest article for additional explanation. We need to recognize the divine mercy in the Protocol.

  22. Anthony and Dave,

    I think what you are saying is what many others are thinking too. My wife and I had this conversation just this evening. What’s most important at this moment is to find a local post-separation traditional church or either an existing denomination church that practices biblical teachings and adheres to scripture. And, at our age, we have to get this one right. In that way, it concerns me that our current UMC
    membership will not be prepared to make these choices if and when we get to vote.

    The point about staying until we see what GC does is also on our minds. God will leads us in the right direction I know.

  23. Excuse me, I meant to say Susan, Anthony and Dave.

  24. Instead of 57% for an Annual Conference to exit the UMC for a new denomination, it should be SIMPLE MAJORITY. Each Annual Conference should be required to call a Special Annual Conference specifically for determining which denomination to affiliate with. Each church or charge should be required to have a Special Charge Conference to elect lay member(s) to the Special Annual Conference. Of course this does not address all the issues surrounding an Annual Conference vote.

    ———————————————————————————-

    The annual conference is composed of an equal number of clergy and laity. Each charge conference elects as many lay members to the annual conference as they have ministers appointed to that charge. In most cases that is one. The Lay Member must, at the time of election, be a professing member of the United Methodist Church for at least two years and four years an active participant in the church. This requirement may be waived for those under 30 years old in the Central Conferences, and is waived for newly organized churches. The annual conference also consists of a number of “at-large” members, also known as “additional lay members,” the number of at-large members being the number necessary (after the members elected by charge conferences are seated) so that the laity and the clergy are equal in number. First seated among at-large members are lay persons holding certain lay positions or offices designated by the Book of Discipline or by the annual conference itself. Among those officers are the lay leaders of the conference and each of the districts within the conference, as well as the Conference presidents of the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, the young adult organization, the college student organization and the youth fellowship. Also all the diaconal ministers, home missioners and the deaconesses under Episcopal appointment are lay members. When there are multiple congregations in a charge conference, members from each congregation in that charge are encouraged to become at-large members. After all lay members who hold their seat by virtue of office or position are seated and if additional lay members are needed the annual conference will elect any active United Methodist lay person who is interested in holding that position.

    • Anthony
      Like your explanation. It has been my observation that clergy are far more progressive than lay. But since half the annual conference vote is clergy it begins with a left leaning bias. This is how a smaller number of progressive lay voters can out weigh the majority of the membership when it comes to voting. Given that I see a real uphill struggle for getting an annual conference to vote 57% to leave. That forces the fight to the local churches and it will be nasty.

    • Gary Bebop says

      The 57% is a Protocol compromise (between simple majority and 2/3). The figure was agreed to by all parties before the Protocol could be signed. Break the number and you’ve lost the compromise. Ron and Tom have made that clear.

      • I am so thankful that I do not live in that world and did not do my job or conduct my private business in that rigged world of abject unfairness. Of course these issues should be decided by simple majority. I understand the arrival at this “compromise”. However, if the liberals were practicing what they constantly preach, they would be screaming to the rooftops for a fair and equitable process. I just am unable to fathom the alternative universe that they occupy. Do they have no remorse or second thoughts regarding their demands for a rigged and unfair process, one that they would outright reject if the shoe was on the other foot? Yes, getting away from these people will be an “escape from Egypt” and worth every effort to make it happen. However, if there’s sufficient support at GC to tweak this separation plan and make it more fair before approving it, that would obviously be good.

    • David F Miller says

      I believe this vote is so important that the entire membership should vote not simply activists. All laity and clergy vote!

  25. Agree that there should be some mechanism to provide that annual conferences are required to vote to go one way or the other. Additionally, each local church should be required to vote to go one way or the other, being fully informed of their particular annual conference’s vote. That would increase the opportunity for more individuals to be made aware of what is happening within the UMC at all levels, including the local community and individual church levels. That would also increase the opportunity for each individual to be able to make an conscious decision to not be lukewarm. I pray that individuals in UMC churches, including the elderly, are made aware that they too have a choice to make, either for or against the word of the Lord. No one is too old to stand with the Lord and there will never be a friend like Jesus. God bless every one with the truth of his word and the revelation of his glory.

    • I agree. If this protocol is “the deal”, then our members should be required to have a say. No annual conferences deciding for their member churches, no required district superintendent permission, no church councils deciding for their congregation, no pastors belittling and denigrating their congregations, and no all-church conferences held off site in another town. Unfortunately, the history of our denomination indicates that those things are exactly what is most likely to occur.

      • I want to vote secret ballot. Each member deserves the right to vote. We hear disenfranchisement so much in our civil elections. How can the church actually be a party to disenfranchisement and call itself a church? After all, our liberal UMC brethren involved in civil politics are forever joining the voting rights and disenfranchisement cause, fighting both real and fake disenfranchisement. Let them now step up to the plate and demand voting rights for all members of the UMC.

    • Completely agree. The liberal pastors that they continue to send us will fight against our local church having a vote. Our pastor will start by proclaiming that the oppressed have been freed by the UMC and who are we to enslave them again.

      It will be nasty. The church council will decide that a vote doesn’t need to be taken. Then enough people may muster the willpower to force a vote. The district superintendent will object, and if he has to hold a vote, he will schedule the all church conference off-site in a neighboring town to tamp down involvement (this already how they hold the annual church conference). Whoever prevails will be left with a church drained of 40% of its members and they will likely not be able to pay their bills.

    • DD, I am referencing the Jan. 16, 2020 article by William B. Lawrence and his statements, “For the moment, the “protocol” is just a concept paper from the sixteen who signed it”. “Clearly this “protocol” is a political statement, not a declaration about scripture” and “A deadline for sending petitions to the General Conference passed months ago.” I don’t know that I understand or would agree with all of the article, but if the Judicial Council and May’s GC goes along with adopting a form of the negotiated protocol, what you are saying has to be included in the final form. I believe more and more members are recognizing this.

  26. Steve Osborn says

    How and where does the retirement funds go? Otherwise clergy will be voting pocket book and membership their hearts.

  27. Rodrick KAPWA says

    Au lieu de “quitter” ou “se séparer”, les traditionalistes devraient s’imposé pour le respect du vote de la CG2019, et poussé ceux d’avis contraire à former quelque chose d’autre que l’UMC. Car quitter la dénomination serait dévaloir et s’avouer vaincu d’un combat que plusieurs on menés durant toutes ses générations et nous ont légués la victoire jusque là. Je pense et suis convaincu que Dieu peut encore et toujours préserver l’unité de l’église comme c’était le cas lors de la CG2019 et sera le cas dans l’avenir, il suffit de se tourner vers lui pour se laisser conduire par son Esprit. Y a encore de l’espoir pour l’unité de l’église et le respect de la doctrine biblique sur le mariage.

    • Translation of the above comment:
      Instead of “leaving” or “separating”, the traditionalists should impose themselves for the respect of the vote of the CG2019, and pushed those of contrary opinion to form something other than the UMC. Because to leave the denomination would be to devalue and admit defeat of a fight that many have waged during all its generations and have bequeathed us the victory so far. I think and am convinced that God can still and always preserve the unity of the church as it was the case during GC2019 and will be the case in the future, it is enough to turn to him to be led by his mind. There is still hope for the unity of the church and respect for the biblical doctrine on marriage.

  28. Leaving, separating, splitting? Adam Hamilton certainly has the traditionalists leaving and “ the rest of us will continue to be the United Methodist Church”. Of course he does not mention the real issue – the deep theological, doctrine, and Biblical schism thus reducing that to irrelevancy and making this sound good for the media in that it’s an anti-LGBT denomination vs a pro-LGBT denomination. What a travesty! Notice, he has already decided to which denomination his church will belong. But, what if his conference voted to leave the UMC? He would just simply decide on his own to remain in the UMC? It is this very ATTITUDE that hinders the goal of amiable separation, shuts down dialogue, and angers people!!

    Adam Hamilton (Newspaper Quote):
    “One group will form a new denomination and they will retain the current language about the practice of homosexuality being incompatible with Christian teaching,” Hamilton said. “The rest of us will continue to be the United Methodist Church without this language anymore.”

    • Accoding to the protocols each church would be entitled to vote to move across to the other new denomination. So Church of the Resurrection could do that if their AC went the conservative route. I fail to see any of the arrogance you attribute to Hamilton.

    • The great plains annual conference (adam hamilton’s) is dominated by liberal clergy. Hamilton’s church in this plan will get its way. The ac is even funding studies and education to its members to prove that homsexual sexual practices are healthy and not sinful.

    • So….to be clear, Hamilton’s annual conference is not even majority traditional- and no where near 57%. It probably has at least 57% that would vote to be liberal.

  29. Glen Wilkerson says

    The laity of the UMC seem to have little voice in these matters. I know that we send delegates but consider the vast number left at home in local churches. Their only voice is money. The local church is where the money comes from. The local church controls the money it collects in tithes and offerings. They can and in many cases should divert it elsewhere.

    • David F Miller says

      I agree. The Laity must be involved and must be allowed to vote. In the New York Annual Conference there has been virtually no discussion of these issues in the local Churches. The leadership, Progressives, are determining what is discussed. The laity are being kept in the dark.

      • I have attempted to post the same message and it is a real concern. And, of course it is not just New York. You can add North Carolina to that list of UMC’s with this type of leadership in the Annual Conference. I just hope the Laity that seems so in the dark, are really paying closer attention. The elderly in particularly have faith their churches are isolated from what’s going on “up top”, and it won’t make any difference to us.

  30. When I look back at the controversy the church faced concerning minorities and women, I can’t help but see the similarities in this issue. LGBT people are being treated as “less than” and as if their access to God needs to be limited.
    A young gay friend of mine tried to commit suicide because he decided his parents and the church would see him as unloveable. The day I found this out was the day I decided no one needs MY judgement. My job is to love!

  31. Jeffrey Parker says

    >> “The fact that there is an agreement at all is astounding and a testament to the dedication of the participants and the perseverance of the mediator.”

    Right. A testament to the power of men.

    In the run-up to GC2019, we the “orthodox” faithful came together in groups large and small and fasted and prayed and humbled ourselves before the LORD and begged Him to guide us into all truth and deliver us from evil. AND HE DID! Praise His Holy Name! Thank you LORD JESUS! In our weakness, His Strength prevailed against opposition so thrashing and vehement that, were one to look it in the face — say, on UMC TV 😉 — one might be tempted to characterize it as having demonic elements.

    And when the sun set on GC2019, in word spoken and printed we knelt and gave thanks to GOD for His deliverance, and testified to HIS Greatness in bringing the result.

    Fast forward about a year to the Protocol — a plan hammered out not in the light but in secret, and then sprung suddenly on the Body with the help of an army of elite apologists. “It’s the best deal we could get!” they tell us. “Be grateful for our dedication and perseverance, and for that of our fine secular mediator!”

    Well, actually, I do believe that this stinker of a plan may well be the best results “WE” can hope for in our own power.

    But I don’t for a minute believe that it’s the best outcome that could be.

    Tom, in studying this plan from every angle, by now I have read about a hundred essays on it. If that’s an exaggeration, it’s not by much. In none of them — NOT ONE — do I recall a negotiator or apologist giving thanks and praise to GOD and claiming the miraculous influence of the Holy Spirit in the achievement.

    That speaks volumes, brother. Quite likely it’s spiritually healthy that no one associated with this plan is claiming Holy Spirit guidance in achieving this result!

    Blessings,
    Jeff

  32. The traditionalists are not playing hardball. That is how they were taken in by the progressives. The progressives are willing to rip The UMC apart to get what they want. Now that the new rules are in effect traditionalists all over the country can start filing charges and put some pressure on the bishops to comply or defy. Keep the pressure on and then maybe make a new deal. One that the rank and file traditionalist might accept.

  33. Vince Ferraccioli says

    Traditionalists should not be leaving the United Methodist Church. The separatists (those that want gay marriage and gay pastors which goes against the Book of Discipline) SHOULD be the ones leaving the United Methodist Church. If you are for non-traditional marriage (which God invented) than you are NOT technically a United Methodist. There is no arguing. This is the way it is and therefore let the separatists leave! United Methodist Church belongs to traditional only marriage believers.

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