It’s Time to Move On

By Rob Renfroe – It’s time. General Conference 2020 will convene in just over four months. It’s time for a definitive solution to our differences over the authority of Scripture, marriage, and sexual ethics.

It’s time for General Conference to admit we can no longer be one church. Fortunately, most of us are now willing to admit this sad truth. There are still a few – primarily bishops, bureaucrats, and institutionalists – who are unwilling to acknowledge what the rest of us know to be true. Like Rip Van Winkle, waking up from a twenty-year slumber during which he missed the American Revolution, they seem to have slept through nearly fifty years of debate and the destructive vitriol of St. Louis. So, they offer an outdated regional conference solution that leaders of all theological perspectives have said is a non-starter.

But most of us are willing to admit we are not one and no plan can keep us together. UM-Forward, a leading progressive caucus within the UM Church, has proposed legislation that would dissolve the denomination and create four new churches. The UMC Next Plan, the work of primarily centrist leaders, proposes liberalizing the denomination’s sexual ethics and allowing traditionalists to leave. What’s known as “The Indianapolis Plan,” put together by a coalition of progressives, centrists, and traditionalists, calls for a respectful and amicable separation and the fair distribution of the denomination’s assets.

It’s time to admit we are not one church. Instead of attempting to hold us together by coercion, trust clauses, or out-of-touch plans that deny the reality of our differences, it’s time to admit we cannot be true to ourselves and walk with each other. Most of us are now willing to acknowledge this reality.

It’s time to redefine “winning.” In the past a “win” for traditionalists was keeping the Book of Discipline true to Scripture and finding a way to make the bishops enforce it. A win for progressives was changing the church’s sexual ethics so that pastors could marry gay couples and practicing gay persons could be ordained and appointed to serve local churches. “Centrists,” I believe, thought of winning as making enough room for all views and practices – and to do so in such a way that their churches would not be disrupted by these issues or have to vote on which sexual ethic to adopt.

It’s time to admit the ways we have defined winning in the past has kept us embroiled in an ugly and destructive battle. Each group has believed their views are true to the will of God. So, they have reasoned, it is only right that they fight to control the future of the church and create a denomination that embraces their beliefs. 

After fifty years of fighting to win the church, where are we? At a place where the church has lost. The UM Church in the U.S. has declined precipitously in membership, attendance, and finances throughout this debate, and even more rapidly since the special General Conference last February. St. Louis presented us in the worst light possible to lost people needing the love of God and the blessings of Wesleyan Christianity. Great work is being done by local congregations, but the UM Church is not winning. 

As long ago as 2004, Dr. William Hinson called upon United Methodists to admit the truth that we would never be united and proposed that the best solution was amicable separation. Castigated, condemned, and misrepresented, Hinson believed United Methodists would win not by fighting the same battle over and over again (which is exactly what we have done) but by setting each other free to pursue ministry in the ways we believe God would have us do. 

It’s time to admit that a win for United Methodists is not one side out-voting or excommunicating the other. This is what the UMC Next Plan would do. It creates winners and losers. Centrists win and stay. Progressives win and can stay. Together they keep the spoils – the name and the assets of the church. Traditionalists lose and must leave – on terms dictated by the “winners.” 

But the UM Church wins only if there is a negotiated, respectful separation which allows annual conferences and local churches to choose what direction their ministry will follow. This is what the Indianapolis Plan proposes – an amicable solution agreed upon before General Conference that is fair to all. No repeat of St. Louis, no winners or losers, no side getting its way at the expense of others or forcing its will upon those with whom they disagree. Power politics is not a win for the UM Church, and it’s not the way of Jesus.

It’s time to admit reality. Actually, a couple of realities. One is that the vast majority of United Methodists are traditionalists. In a UMCOM survey of U.S. United Methodists nearly half of those responding identified themselves as traditionalists – many more than those who defined themselves as centrist or progressive. Today more than half of all United Methodists live outside of the United States. And no one disputes that the vast majority, probably 90 percent, of non-U.S. United Methodists are traditional. 

But there is another reality we need to admit. Evangelicals have little chance of forcing U.S. bishops to enforce the church’s prohibitions on marrying and ordaining gay persons. In many geographical areas of the country so many evangelicals have left the denomination, that pastors and congregations – and the bishops they elect – are predominantly progressive. Bishops are held accountable for their actions primarily by other bishops in their particular jurisdiction. This means that liberal bishops are answerable to other liberal bishops who applaud their disobedience and often share in it. A glaring example is a Western Jurisdiction bishop who is married to another woman and boasted of performing more than 50 same-sex weddings. In spite of a Judicial Council ruling stating that it was unlawful to consecrate her, she remains in office.  

It is frustrating for traditionalists to be in the majority and for our views and the laws of the church to be so easily disregarded. But that’s reality and so is the fact that despite our greatly outnumbering progressives and “centrists,” we will never have the votes to elect orthodox bishops in the more liberal jurisdictions. Consequently, the disobedience of pastors, annual conferences, and bishops in these areas will continue with no real consequences.

It’s time to admit that it’s time, past time, to move on. Fighting the same battle the same way will produce the same results – anger, dysfunction and a church that is focused on itself rather than its mission. It’s time to stop denying reality and devising plans that act as if we are not irrevocably divided. It’s time to admit that we are not one church. It’s time to stop trying to win by outvoting the other side.

It’s time to trust God. We should do all we can to negotiate a plan that gives each segment of the church a fair portion of the general church assets, particularly ensuring the continued crucial support for annual conferences and ministries in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. But whatever happens, we will be stronger, more focused on our mission, and more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ when this battle is over. We do not believe our future will be determined by getting all that is rightfully ours. We trust that God’s grace will be sufficient for those who seek him, honor his work, and commit themselves to doing his will. It’s time to trust God and step into a faithful future.   

 

Comments

  1. Steven Vance says

    Isn’t it ironic that the group retaining “United Methodist Church” is the one going against Wesleyan tradition and Biblical teaching. It’s also frustrating that those holding to Biblical beliefs are the ones being kicked out of the denomination. So, yes, traditionalists have lost and the universal church has lost as another denomination thumbs its nose at the Bible.

    • Brian Evers says

      Amen brother.

    • Your Thoughts on the Protocol my Brother! You seem still standing on Indianapolis while others have moved. I await your wisdom on this one as o am a fun of your writings.

      Forbes Matonga
      Zimbabwe West

      • I think it’s only a matter of time before “the Protocol” falls by the wayside.Its just another plan made by16 people who met in secret for over 5 months. To me it appears very slanted toward the progressives. I think that there will be many othe plans and amendments that will appear before General Conference. Nothing, is a done deal. Why are the traditionalist leaving and having to pay out,losing their identity, when THE TRADITIONALIST ARE IN THE MAJORITY BY A WIDE MARGIN!

    • The UMC brand is and has been tarnished for years. Membership is down, districts and conferences are inflating membership numbers and progressives running United Methodist News are putting out propaganda that would have you believe there are more of them than there are traditionalist.

      If this latest plan succeeds, what’s left of the progressive UMC will be known across America as the “gay” church. The LGBTQIA+ community makes up less than 4% of the US population. That will be their mission field and recruiting pool for new members.

      Traditionalist on the other hand will be free that connection, and will be recognized for adhering to scripture. Traditionalist will also be able to cast a much wider net.

    • Paul S. Cooper says

      No one is ” being kicked out of the denomination.” The WCA had a plan of separation in place before GC2019. View the live stream from the Protocol group, archived on UMNews.org, and listen to what Rev. Keith Boyette explains. Most importantly, please remember that this is one of several plans to be presented at GC2020. Nothing has been decided yet.

    • While traditionalists have lost, the “universal church” will never lose, else Jesus’ words about the “gates of hell shall not prevail” are fake news.

  2. The problem with this plan is that it will. Be harder to leave and force a vote then to stay. I believe you have sold some people out for a quick resolution. Hopefully this will avoid lawsuits but I think both sides will now lose because a lot of people in the pews will just walk away bs fight the preacher for a vote

    • Ommer Everson says

      Every church should be able to vote. The part about not requiring a vote is absurd. The clergy as usual is too involved in this. Let each church choose their way.

      • Mark Kuhlman says

        I sure would like to hear you give a deeper explanation of your comment “The clergy as usual is too involved in this.”…

      • Mark Kuhlman says

        “The clergy as usual is too involved in this.” Please explain this…

      • Every church should have to vote. Make a choice one way or the other. And if the requirement is 57% for an annual conference to leave, should be the same percentage for each individual church.

    • I see a huge problem with plan that does not also mandate a church conference on this issue denomination wide. I know of churches that have no plan as of now, on voting on the issue. The church council plans to make the decision for their congregation. In some cases, this issue has never been discussed at all.

  3. So, it sounds as though, although you say the traditionalists have a larger percentage of representation, they are the ones that will need to leave the denomination?

    • I believe he is saying that winning a vote in a general conference referendum would not solve any problems–the same people in charge of agencies and church structure now will be in charge after the winning traditionalist vote. We have already seen what impact prior votes have had on the bishops and agencies–it is as if no vote had been taken at all. As a result, giving the church structure to those who already have it (and will have it, regardless of how a future general conference vote may result) is rational, and I think, pretty ingenious. To be able to start over with a stream-lined organization will improve traditionalist’s chances of success, I truly believe. In contrast, the future UMC will be burdened with a bureaucracy that will fight tooth and toenail to maintain every last dollar of support, regardless of the need of it under current conditions.

  4. Rob, that’s said as well as it can be said. If there’s anything I can do to move this proposal forward, please let me know.

  5. Rob, your last paragraph is right on. We will not get what is rightfully ours. That is a given. However, the sermon on the mount alludes to this condition of obedience to God rather than man. We must be bridges over troubled waters, loving in spite of the alligators. Sometimes we act like alligators, but God can use even that to suit his purposes. He is sifting, sorting, testing the hearts. Thank you for the clear headed article.

  6. Commentary from Evangelicals:
    Denny Burk: “Methodists agree to split–one side to form a new denomination that is faithful to the Bible’s teaching about marriage and the other side to continue down the path of apostasy.
    Very sad, but inevitable and a long time in coming.,,
    These kinds of splits are not only inevitable but commanded:
    “People will be… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5″

    Andrew Walker: “Though tragic, this is inevitable and necessary. Faithfulness and unfaithfulness cannot coexist. It is not the “traditionalists” who are being schismatics. Those abandoning Scripture, reason, nature, and history are the ones being divisive.”

  7. If the churches keep adopting the ways of current culture, how are they going to be distinguishable from everyone else? Romans 12:2 no longer applies?

  8. Rev. Steven W. Greer says

    Jude 1:3 (NIV)
    3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
    Today, It is high time for Bible Believing and Christ-Center Christians in this 21st century of the United Methodist Church to lift high the Cross of Christ and “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to us.” Jude had a exhortation for the 1st Century Christians as he does for the 21st Century Christians and Church. While St. Paul calls us to work out our Salvation in fear and trembling before God. As Jude exhorts, This same God calls His people to fight the good fight, stand firm against the wiles of the devil, and to lift up our cross and follow Jesus! Jesus is still the Way. Jesus always was obedient to His Father’s Word and Way and not by the dictates of his contemporary culture. UMC members, now is the time for courage and standing in the gap for the world with the cross of Christ and cleansing the temple of God as Jesus did. It is not the time to run and count our loses!!!

    • George Owen says

      Finally someone who is willing to fight for the Truth and not run from the fight. I agree. It is God’s Truth that is being compromised before the world. We need to stand and have the continual courage to fight the good fight of faith.

  9. Steve Schonert says

    Thank you for your leadership. I have always appreciated your thoughtful & reasoned articles

  10. Jim Wolfgang says

    Two questions come to mind concerning the troubling/historic months leading to the 2020 General Conference and what is decided:”What would Jesus do”?, and “What would Jesus have me do”? While it angers me that the progressive/centrists will apparently be given the “United Methodist” name and virtually all the boards and agencies, I sense the Holy Spirit is telling me my anger does not produce God’s righteousness. What does help in this time of dis-ease in the U.M.C.? I need to remember the U.M.C. actually belongs to Jesus so I need to keep the ministry He has given to me to the congregations I serve and the larger world as my primary focus and not be distracted or discouraged by the problems of the denomination. We will meet to worship every Sunday and that is my biggest focus of the week. The W.C.A. has a very good model for the traditional Methodist church which I think would be very appealing to even centrist leaning congregations, and there will be a structure that will not allow the bad faith practices of the progressives to happen with impunity. I regret the name “United Methodist” is to be dishonored by ownership of the progressive/centrists but as the Rolling Stones song states “You can’t always get what you want, but if you take the time you just might find, you get what you need.” Traditional Methodism is growing in the Central Conferences so that model of the church is sound and that is what we will be again when we shed the albatross of progressivism from our ministry. I am starting to look forward to the post 2020 General Conference and be a part of a new version of Methodism. I hope my annual conference votes to be a Traditional Methodist part of this too, I plan to do my part to help that outcome.

    • Keep in mind the UMC name is tarnished. As for the business entities of the UMC, they are money pits. Any business would have outsourced them years ago. The UMC however uses them to justify the need for Bishops that serve no other purpose than to sustain their need and their exorbitant lifestyles. The church derives no return on investment from a group of bishops living in million dollar parsonages, with cars and drivers, and 160K salaries. It’s time to move on.

      • Leaving the trappings of the overblown UMC hierarchy behind seems to be the only way to shed the social justice warrior distraction, and return to fundamental biblical truth and teachings. To me, the trigger may be gay marriage, but the underlying problem is the church leaders chasing down every progressive rabbit hole around, except concentrating on living the scriptures.

    • But if you try sometimes well you might find
      You get what you need

  11. Steven Zinser says

    GC2020 hasn’t happened yet. Not one vote has been cast. All “plans” are merely proposals.

    The recent reconciliation plan of the last few days is not as good as the Indianapolis plan which it parallels in many ways. So, don’t buy into any report that all is settled.

    It isn’t.

  12. George Wilson says

    We really didn’t learn anything from watching the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians did we? Did we think we would be the exception? As they lost faithful members we will too.

  13. Richard Heiden says

    I don’t understand why this is an issue. It’s like we have two different Bibles (or sets of Bibles). In the ones I read and have consulted, love is considered a good thing, so why would a particular kind be considered a sin or evil? There is nothing in the Bible against romantic love (with the exception of adultery, of course). In some passages it doesn’t specify what kind of homosexual act it is taking against, but whenever it does specify, it’s about prostitution in pagan temples. Which is certainly not what the current controversy is about.

    In New Testament times (though not explicitly in the scriptures) homosexuality often meant men preying on boys; that isn’t part of the current controversy either.

    Here are two references with useful information on this subject:
    https://openandaffirming.org/ona/how/bible/
    http://ecinc.org/clobber-passages/

    So can somebody please tell me the Biblical basis against homosexuality in a romantic context? Please cite the specific edition the quotation is from. Maybe there are such passages in foreign translations (like in Africa or Asia). But even some English-speaking Christians seem to be using Bibles with these passages.

    I’m sure that a lot of people pray about homosexuality, and yet there are fierce disagreements, notably this one. I’d hate to think it, but one explanation could be that prayer just doesn’t work. Do people get different responses? Do they “hear” what they want to hear?

    • Read Dr. James Whites the same sex controversy or watch some of his debates on this issue, he is one of the few people who has done extensive research on this topic and has long settled this debate. The issue with the references you sighted is that they are outdated and many of the arguments they have used in support of homosexuality in regards to the specific language used has long been disproved by more recent scholarship. The reason this issue still persists is the unwillingness of many to seek out actual scholarship on such issues, not Matthew Vines, the source where most of this erroneous argumentation arises from.
      On a side note when referring to temple prostitution, I assume you are talking about Romans 1: 26-27. If that verse were referring to male temple prostitution, it would not equate the men’s homosexual acts in that specific context to that of women. Pederasty, if it did occur among women, was not culturally accepted in Paul’s time. Paul is and was addressing homosexuality in all its forms in Romans 1:26-27

      • Richard Heiden says

        Kevin: So you’re equating lust or passion (depending on the translation in Romans) with romantic love? Maybe you missed the five passages in Deuteronomy and Kings with male temple or shrine prostitution. (Or maybe—as per my previous post—your edition says something different.)

        I have requested White’s book from the library. Though I note that his book is 13 years older than Vines’s “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” (you mentioned “outdated” references and “more recent scholarship”).

        And, in any event, we should live by what the Bible actually says, rather than by commentaries or whatever. Though some people’s ideas may have started in religion (or their idea of religion), they may now be rooted more in habit or emotion, without a path to change.

        I am still awaiting any responses to my second-last paragraph, which was my real point.

        • Hey Richard:
          Obviously, no space here for a human sexuality in the Bible seminar, but please note that what Kevin is saying is that the arguments about “the bible doesn’t really have a male-female-binary prerequisite for sexuality” was more popular in the 90s by scholars and in the 00s by lay folks like Vines. Please note that actual scholars from both camps have abandoned these arguments, e.g. Dr. Richard Hayes, Dr. Robert Gagnon,
          Dr. NT Wright, Dr. Loder, Dr. White, Dr. Kirk

        • Richard, I will try to respond to your question. The Bible actually says little to nothing about “romantic love”. Marriages in the Bible were often arranged, with love coming later. In cases where romantic love might be mentioned (as when Jacob/Israel “loved” Rachel), the scripture’s focus is still on marriage and commitment (and child-bearing; Rachel bemoaned the fact that she was barren until God “opened her womb,” and she bore Joseph and Benjamin).

          Likewise in the New Testament, when Paul talks about marriage and tells husbands to “love your wives”, he is speaking of their BEHAVIOR, not their EMOTIONS. He expects them to outwardly treat their wives with respect, and to “sacrificially” love their wives “as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her”.

          Romantic love is more of a modern construct than a biblical one; we like to read back into scripture our modern ideas and culture, when much of it didn’t exist in the way we imagine.

        • Vines book is more of a condensation of older scholarship, the vast majority of his arguments arent new. If you want a book that was published around the same time and adresses lexicon more directly, I suggest Michael Browns “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” It was writeen as a direct refutation to many of matthew vines complaints on interpretation and language.

  14. Frank Demaggio says

    This has gone on for to long, Traditional UM’s are saddened and tired of it all. And to suggest that non-traditionalist retain our name and logo is overwhelmingly heartbreaking and unacceptable. Regrettably, after over 16 years being UM’s, we will move on, probably to a non-denomination church.
    James 1:22. NIV Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself, do what It says.

  15. Inspired, understandable, & well-said, Rob Renfroe! Thank you.

    • Randy Kiel says

      Please don’t give up on us entirely, Mr. Demaggio. The time is coming, and is almost at hand when some change (probably a split) will occur. The resulting Church will be Bible-focused and true to that Scripture, following once more the path of obedience to Christ. Be patient (one of the fruits of the spirit), and let your input help to build the new denomination.

  16. Brian Evers says

    Truly, the Traditionalists have received the short end of this stick. They have to leave the organization they dominate, they have to admit they are racist, they have to vote to leave, and they have to put aside a fund for liability. All this so they can continue to respect the authority of the bible???

    • Randy Kiel says

      Yes, we (probably) do. (Nothing’s final until the May GC, though). But that’s okay. God’s grace is sufficient.

  17. Stephen Burkhart says

    The churches I serve are finished with “connection” and just want a clean, simple, disaffiliation and independence. Don’t forget the thousands of churches like these in the split

    • Stephen, have any of the churches you serve considered doing what Grace Fellowship in Katy, Texas did? That is, go with another evangelical church like the Free Methodist? Seems this would accomplish the type of disaffiliation you describe, but that is only if Free Methodist hold true to the values Traditionalist are seeking.

  18. George Johnson says

    It is obvious to me a split is needed. It also seems the Christian thing to do is to do it in a fair, amicable, balanced, equitable, etc. manner. It needs to be done asap so everyone can move on with God’s work. One issue I don’t see addressed much as how to handle the local churches. It needs to be done carefully or members may leave and disputes may grow. Some of the things I can think of are 1) education of members on the issues, 2) pros and cons of all sides, 3) proper methods to make the decision and how a democracy works and 4) finally a simple vote with the majority (democratic principle that the members have agreed to or at least understand) determining the outcome.

  19. Gary Bebop says

    The Protocol is not a split but the calving of a new denomination. What remains behind is the old cow. On the surface and without context, the Traditionalists seem to have been given a pittance to start a new life, but when one looks at the negotiation itself it’s clear the process was fairminded and solidly anchored in reality. The “optics” played up by media do not reveal the heart of the negotiation, which those close to the scene recognize produced the best of outcomes in this Fallen human moment. Look beyond the optics. Local churches get to leave Egypt without paying a terrible price to their oppressors.
    New life is beginning, but we will have to learn to walk before we can run.

    • A significant shift has occurred here, even aided by the liberal media. Centrists have been undressed of their sheep’s clothing. They are indeed progressives after all. This is significant in that those in the pews cannot be fooled into believing there will be a safe, middle ground/centrist denomination to go with. The choice will clearly be between but two clear denominations —- a liberal denomination or a traditional denomination. The liberal church will mandate same-sex marriages and the ordaining and sending of homosexual pastors (plus all others under the LGBT+ umbrella). The traditional church, which ironically will actually be the present UMC, will not host same-sex weddings or ordain and send homosexual pastors. Of course there are other significant and serious underlying differences. So, the ambiguity is being lifted thus making the choice an either or choice. There can be no more hiding in this centrist deception. One can go with the liberal denomination, the traditional denomination, or leave for an outside denomination. This is sure clearing the air, thank God.

      • Exactly the traditionalist are inthe majority now worldwide to the liberals are the ones that should be leaving and paying their way out as they go
        The bishops, there may be church law but what is the expression now “there is no one above the law”

  20. Cynthia Chiappori says

    I think John Wesley is rolling in his grave right now! He would be appalled that the Traditionalists are the ones expected to leave!

  21. Rev Mujinga Mwamba Kora says

    In my thinking about this protocole it seems that no one is a loser. We need to understand the context in which we are coming on since 1972 up to day. Let God works in this subject matter. If progressists feel that there winner God knows where they are going, if not we will see the result where we are going to. What is important we want to leave and start worship The truly God as John Wesley did.

  22. George Johnson says

    It seems like the majority (Traditionalists) should be in control of the separation/split. Also, If the leadership and Governance structure represents the minority interest (Progressives/Centrists) and themselves rather than the majority then the majority should change the leadership and Governance structure. I hate to say it but this should have been done a long time ago. We are now in a dysfunctional and chaotic separation/split that is caused by the leadership and Governance structure not representing the majority of members but representing the minority of members. I doubt any organization can function properly with the minority running the show. Maybe the local churches need to recognize the failure of the UM leadership/governance and step up their power in the body. The process of separation/splitting may just be beginning rather than ending. I doubt a resolution will come out of the 2020 General Conference. It appears a lot of work needs to be done by the majority to change the Book of Discipline and leadership/governance structure before we can move forward. It is obvious the majority should be in control, not the minority. It they want to give the old UM denomination name/legal entity to the minority that may make sense but the majority should make this decision. If this is not done right a lot of people are going to be leaving the United Methodist church especially the Traditionalists because of the failure of leadership/governance that the majority had a hand in letting happen. This is a mess. It seem like it can only be straightened out by the majority taking back control the UM denomination before the separation/split. A good explanation/rational is needed to convince the majority members that the majority should be leaving rather that the minority.

  23. Diane M Smith says

    My husband has been a Methodist for seventy years. Having come in after the merger with the EUB, I have been a UM for fifty years. Subsequently, we have seen this battle raging since the early 1980s, if not before. We are orthodox, i.e., traditional in doctrine, love Wesleyan theology, and have long been dismayed by this never-ending, bitter conflict.
    The current plan for church schism heavily favors the side that never won a vote at GC. Since the bishops and the agencies largely favor the progressive side, perhaps it couldn’t have been otherwise, but I say: So much for General Conference. I think the word I want here is “meaningless.”
    At any rate, we are weary (and old, after all these years) and we have left.
    But thank you for all your years of hard work, Rob; God bless you.

  24. RE Carlson says

    If a split does occur no resulting group could with integrity claim the title “United” without the appearance of hypocrisy.

  25. Steve Zinser says

    The UMC name is ruined here in the USA. It’s like wanting to keep the name Madoff Investments or Epstein Travel.

    Why not just be “The Methodist Church”? I’m betting that’s the short description of ourselves that most of us use, anyway. “Where do you go to church?” And we reply, “The Methodist church…”

    Renfroe is great in this article. We really need to hear the wisdom here. We all know that the traditionalists are leaving the UMC at just as fast a rate as are the progressives. And, as Renfroe reminds us, the progressive bishops aren’t going anywhere. There’s another 40 years in the wilderness if this ever gets solved.

    Go now. Act now. Rev Rob Renfroe is speaking the wisdom of the bible

  26. I am praising God Almighty for interjecting in the fruitless conversation regarding LGBT relations, and moving the conversation to a more productive assessment of a fair and amicable split. God is showing once more that the “will of the world” has no sway over his Devine will. God will have nothing to do with celebrating sin, and will abandon those who have rejected his will, while providing an exodus for his faithful. Just as God’s people didn’t get to keep their fair share of the riches of Egypt, likewise the faithful will not exit with their fair share of the riches of the UMC. But we will go forward in Gods favor, with his presence, thriving in his will.

    People talk of winners and losers. The only winners will be those who choose to live within Gods will. Those who choose to live in the will of the world will be blown around like dust by the winds of cultural change.

  27. Michael Peters says

    I am lost.

    I began this day thinking that something I may say would make a difference. I now realize that anything said today on this forum will change nothing. I do know that God is listening, and hears our prayers, yet, God only can change our hearts.

    Prayer, never ceasing, is all we can do.

  28. James Wilson says

    What bothers me most is that somehow we allowed the UMC to be taken over and used. Not by progressives and centrists but by business. We have far more people in the hierarchy than necessary to operate a church. Far too many with far too much control given to them over finances and property are running the show. Our system has become so flawed that we not only can’t remove clergy that are openly defiant to the Book of Discipline, we can’t remove the Bishops that allow it to continue. If you can’t enforce the rules, they are worse than useless.

  29. Charles Armour says

    When less than .04% of the membership (clergy) get a full 50% of the vote. and when the Episcopacy maintains a Gregorian and 2nd Council of Nicea perspective of their office, rather than that which is directly spelled out in The New Testament, (far more limited) it is only to be expected that the laity become increasingly disenfranchised.

    If this were some secular/political issue and any other group were treated in such a manner, the same folks who enforce and benefit from this system would be out in the streets clapping hands, jumping up and down, shouting slogans, banging drums and blocking traffic in protest.

    If we are fortunate to be able to form a new Methodist Church, I for one hope that we have learned a lesson from this type of corruptive influence of power. Laity need to take back the church, and never let such corruption happen again.

    How many times in history have we recorded similar situations? The Old Testament Prophets, Jesus Christ, Paul, countless martyrs, Martin Luther and of course Wesley himself, were all plagued and persecuted by the religious elites of their day. History is once again rhyming in our ears.

  30. Florida Conference Guy says

    Bob I guess I do not agree here. I believe the burden should be flipped. The book of disciplined has been reaffirmed by a majority of delegates – who are even more liberal than the congregations they serve – and traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality were affirmed. And they will be affirmed with wider margins moving forward. So why should we traditionalists (orthodox Christians) give up the church we and our parents worked hard, served, tithed, gifted to build, only to start anew? When the church recently affirmed our position? With all due respect to the promoters of this “compromise”, I believe the burden should be flipped. The church should remain as it is, and those who vote to leave and form a new church that deletes key passages in scripture should be allowed to keep their property, and we can separate amicably. This proposal has it in reverse and I will be encouraging those in my congregation to speak out.

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