The United Methodist News Service recently published a commentary by Glen Alton Messer II arguing that United Methodism encompasses “many theologies . . . united under ‘one big tent.'” Our friend the Rev. Chris Ritter, pastor at Geneseo UM Church in Geneseo, Illinois (Great Rivers Annual Conference), responded with the following critical review.
Do United Methodists Need a Bigger Tent?
By Chris Ritter
I just read “Methodism a ‘Big Tent’ from the Beginning” by Glen Alton Messer II. This historical analysis is one of a growing number of recent statements making the case, seemingly, for solving our current divisions by further expanding our tolerance for diversity of belief and practice. If a big tent is who we United Methodists are, why not go… bigger?
I primarily want to delve into Messer’s historical claims, but first let me say a word about the current project of re-defining Methodism. The energy around finding a new definition seems to emanate from those who find themselves drifting outside the established one (which is something like “churches, clergy, and conferences operating according to the Book of Discipline of the UMC”). Having failed to change our covenant by the established means, some are selectively ignoring that with which they disagree as they are shielded regionally from accountability.
To read Dr. Ritter’s entire message, click HERE.