By Chappell Temple –
I’ve been getting their emails and letters almost every day, so it seems. In preparation for the upcoming General Conference of The United Methodist Church in St. Louis, a group advocating for one of the plans being proposed has been more than “methodical” about getting their message out.
The problem is, however, that “Mainstream UMC” seems to have a more casual relationship with truth than I think is merited. And in terms of respectful dialogue with those who think differently, they’ve exhibited instead a censorious and unkind spirit at best, and a downright slanderous one at worst.
They’ve suggested, for instance, that the advocates of maintaining our current stance on homosexuality have “recreated the climate of 1844” when the Methodist Church split over slavery. But the traditionalists are not proposing a split at all, only a continuation of what the greater church has repeatedly and increasingly believed to be a faithful response to some of these difficult questions.
They’ve claimed that the Commission on the Way Forward (COWF), which created the three plans that will be before the delegates in St. Louis, dåid not introduce the idea of a gracious exit, but that’s simply untrue. It was originally in every one of the three plans that the COWF developed until the bishops took it out when they reviewed those plans.
They’ve said that only a “few rogue bishops” hastily wrote the Traditional Plan. But they neglected to mention that the reason that plan was assembled rather quickly was that the bishops as a group told the Commission not to work on it and then, as the Commission was winding everything up, they changed their minds and reluctantly agreed to include that option after all.
They’ve likewise almost libelously labeled two of our bishops, Scott Jones and Gary Mueller, as “WCA bishops,” referring to the Wesleyan Covenant Association, simply because they accepted the invitation to attend a meeting of that group of United Methodists. Indeed, in contrast to many of his progressive colleagues, Bishop Jones has gone out of his way to remain neutral and not endorse any of the three plans publicly.
They’ve warned that there’s simply not time to carefully craft any exit plans before 2020, despite the fact that numerous folks have been working on them for more than a year and versions have been available for delegates to read since the early fall. And some even falsely accused Maxie Dunnam of promoting the exit plan so that traditional churches can get money from the denomination on their way out, when the truth is that he did so to help progressive congregations who may not wish to stay if the current standards are maintained.
They’ve misrepresented the One Church Plan as not requiring anyone to change their positions if they chose not to do so, when in reality it will change our denomination’s definition of marriage for everyone. And should the plan pass, traditional United Methodists will still be forced to pay into an episcopal fund that underwrites openly partnered gay bishops. What’s more, even many proponents of the One Church Plan have admitted publicly that it’s simply a transitional step towards an eventual mandate for full inclusion by the whole denomination.
Most of all, Mainstream UMC has, in a dazzling display of redirection, argued that traditionalists are simply trying to force the church into schism when in truth it is progressives who have blatantly disobeyed our Discipline that have already done so. For I have heard of no conservatives who have broken their ordination vows, disobeyed church law, ignored our covenant, or blatantly defied the discernment of the whole church in favor of their personal opinions or beliefs regarding this issue.
It’s one thing to argue a position and try to persuade others to adopt it. But in misrepresenting the facts so blatantly, and twisting the position of their opponents so maliciously, so-called “Mainstream” proponents of the One Church Plan have plainly turned from progressives into simply pro-aggressives.
And if that sentiment prevails, I have a feeling that the decline in our worship attendance – already almost one million down from just 18 years ago – will only get worse.
Chappell Temple is the lead pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas, a southwestern suburb of Houston. He is a General Conference delegate from the Texas Annual Conference. This guest commentary appeared on ChappellTemple.com. It is republished by permission.
It seems to me that you have slammed the door and are holding it fast against any possible action by the Holy Spirit. Praying in the name of One who passed through locked doors that His followers may truly know and follow Him.
IS MAINSTREAM SELLING US DOWNSTREAM?
Thank you for a “fair and balanced” description of what is going on.
It really ought to boggle the mind when the minority that doesn’t agree with the church’s standards – and in many cases not only doesn’t agree but is in full rebellion through their actions – calls the majority who are faithful to the church’s standards “oppressive” or “unjust,” etc.
Our current situation – where there is so much conflict and outright disobedience – could not exist if our leadership were not tolerant of so many who willingly break their ordination vows.
But it is indeed our leadership that is fomenting much of this…I hope the Bishops will not tolerate interruptions and disobedience during GC19. It is their lack of leadership that has led many to give up on the UMC already, and many are watching to see if this will finally get resolved in an orderly, faithful and fair manner. If not, the exits will be crowded like we’ve never seen before.
Variations of the One Church Plan have been adopted in several other Denominations. The Exit of from 23% to 33% of their former membership has occurred. They have had ample time to have come up with exit plans to vote upon. Political manuevers of various kinds have been used as trial balloons to see what tactics will be used at the GC19 conference. Misdirection of language and legislative rules and protocol are to be expected. Do not be deceived.
The folks that joined the UMC knew their rules of discipline and ignored them and now expect the rest of us to ignore them. They need to join a church that supports their values .
It became obvious to me several months ago that not only is the Council of Bishops entrenched in favor of the One Church Plan, but also the Judiciary Council and the Connectional Table are in cahoots, favoring the plan. The Connectional Table seems to be the plan C, in case progress is stalled in moving us toward heretical liberalism. They want to legislatively isolate U.S. Methodism in order to eliminate the influence of the African conservatives. That would eventually do an end run around the conservatives here.
As does “Mike”, I hope that the Bishops would not permit disruptions, however, delays and parliamentarian machinations will be the Plan B of the bishops, if they see momentum favoring the Modified Traditional Plan. Stopping disruptions would probably work against the Bishops’ intentions. Because of this fact, it is doubtful that they would call down those who are already bucking the rules to enforce the will of a minority group. This is, admittedly, cynical of me. However, my opinion is only based upon what the Council of Bishops has already been doing and is continuing to do.
As a closing note, when the Holy Spirit has already spoken clearly for millennia, there is no need to pray for His Guidance, nor to “discern together.” Matthew 19. “Have ye not read…?” Thank God! His Guidance is simple and clear.
They would, Jerry… there’s just one problem: those denominations don’t have enough people/churches left to pay their salaries!
Mainstream is conducting a full scale propaganda campaign before the GC. Yesterday I read they are claiming that 67% of US delegates support the OCP. They are trumpeting victory and keep talking as if the US delegates are the only one that count. Isn’t it amazing that the progressives who are supposed to love diversity are so quick to dismiss our African and Asian brothers? There poll shows only 26% of US delegates support the MTP. I don’t know the actual numbers but this sounds to me much the same as it has always been, with 38% coming from Africa and 50 delegates (I am going from memory so do not quote me) plus 26% of US delegates puts us firmly over 50%. I think Mainstream is trying to spread defeatism amongst the traditionalists. I want all of the delegates to know I am praying for you daily!
The failure to implement current discipline is the symptomatic of the direction our bishops have already taken. I have little to no hope that traditional positions will prevail in this culture. The genuine church is not a denomination or a building but those who identify as Christ followers who subscribe to the standards revealed in the word of God. Biblical authority is really the issue here and truth is trampled by feelings and the world view of the descenters and the rhetoric of men. I am committed to a local UMC as a member here For 40 years but will remove my official membership should anything other than the traditional position be adopted.
Scott, we can now see clearly the gates of Hades. But — Jesus made the promise that HE WILL NOT break. We’ll go forth as a reformed traditional Wesleyan UMC, or we’ll go forth as a traditional Wesleyan Methodist church by other means.
Mike says that the “minority” doesn’t agree with current church standards. While this is likely true for the laity, it is most assuredly not true for the clergy, bishops, and leaders of church wide bodies; e.g., United Methodist Women and Global Board of Church and Society. What we have is the ecclesiastical tail wagging the dog, and this tail has been counting on the laity to just shut up and pay their appportionments. If the OCP plan passes, the laity need to vote with their feet and pocketbooks, and yes I mean that to include the “it doesn’t matter in my local congregation” and the “I’ve been a Methodist all my life” crowds. Sticking your head in the sand is no longer a viable option. As Joshua said, “choose this day whom you will serve.”
No he’s just trying to do what is biblical
My guess is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, has been, is, and will be “pretty consistent.” The Spirit who created them male and female. The Spirit who, in and through Christ, spoke to both marriage and celibacy. If the Spirit wanted us to act, I suspect the Spirit would give us such clear signs like in Acts 15, where we could not help but find unity. My guess is you would argue there are signs. I would suggest there aren’t, otherwise, we wouldn’t be having GC2019 or Roberts Rules voting with razor thin margins from a body that pretends it is representative, but hardly – just by the one clergy to one laity ratio, let alone the over represented American church. There is no move of God here. And if you still sense the Spirit moving, then let it blow you into a faith community/denomination where you can find unity.
In spite of…
Clear Biblical teachings on sexual/marriage issues;
Clear traditional agreement with the same;
Clear majority opinion among UMC laity;
Clear statistical histories of disastrous decline among
denominations that have already liberalized;
And, finally, clear evidence of health and growth among
conservative, Bible teaching churches;
The Ecclesiastical structure is choosing to buck all this precedent
and evidence. As others have noted, the Council of Bishops has boasted that a sizable majority (of the Council) backs the One Church Plan. On the other hand, I still believe that an unimpeded, fair process and vote this weekend would pass the Modified Traditional Plan. Ergo, the problem: the game is being rigged as hard as the “Mainstream UMC” group can rig, not to mention the group “Uniting Methodists” and others. (Wow! Two groups titled to represent the exact opposite of the effect they are really having, regardless of what their stated intentions are.)
A phrase from Romans comes to mind:
“…gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
Faith failed first; the mind seemingly followed.
Dr Temple suggests “that “Mainstream UMC” seems to have a more casual relationship with truth than I think is merited.” I would suggest that the same could be said of Dr. Temple. He says that “the traditionalists are not proposing a split at all”, yet Keith Boyette’s name was on petition to the GC to dissolve the United Methodist Church. Temple also says, “Bishop Jones has gone out of his way to remain neutral and not endorse any of the three plans publicly.” While Bishop may not have officially endorsed one plan he has been highly and publically critical of the OCP, while giving high praise to the TP. He is anything but nuetral. This article completely undermines the credibility of Good News.
Sorry Jane but the door has been slammed shut by the heterodox bishops, elders, and board agencies that are teaching a false gospel or as Paul says another gospel when it comes to divine revelation, the sexual ethics required of Christians despite their failures and an upholding of sound doctrine. We are battling over the faith once delivered to the saints….
David, if a split comes, it will be totally on the liberals who are totally responsible for this schism. Traditionalist have never wanted a split. They are only REACTING to a frontal assault on the UMC. This is ALL on the liberals, and if a split comes, they and they alone will be responsible. Trying to spin this in any other way is a blatant lie!!
Why would you trumpet pejorative remarks about Bishop Scott Jones and Keith Boyette as though you have corralled a couple of Texas rattlesnakes? Are you oblivious of the fact that Western Jurisdiction bishops and clergy have been vociferous in their promotion of the OCP and naked in their complicity with Disciplinary disobedience? Widespread disobedience would not have been possible without episcopal and clergy approval. Do you get that?
Strictly speaking, you make a couple of valid points. Having monitored this mess for quite some time, I agree that, of late, Bishop Jones has come across more traditionalist than not but overall he leaves me confused. However, when it comes to who is the initiator that has led us to this point, I absolutely agree with Rev. Temple’s assessment:
“Most of all, Mainstream UMC has, in a dazzling display of redirection, argued that traditionalists are simply trying to force the church into schism when in truth it is progressives who have blatantly disobeyed our Discipline that have already done so. For I have heard of no conservatives who have broken their ordination vows, disobeyed church law, ignored our covenant, or blatantly defied the discernment of the whole church in favor of their personal opinions or beliefs regarding this issue.”
All sanity has left an organization when those who are agitating for a change that has consistently been denied them then blame those who abide by the official decisions of the church as being the promoters of schism. It was the actions of liberal/progressives that started the unraveling when they made it very clear that they no longer felt that they needed to abide by how the United Methodist Church is designed to function. The verbiage of so called “Uniting Methodists” and “Mainstream United Methodists” is anything but conciliatory. There is absolutely nothing out of either organization that leads me to believe that they are ready to continue to share the denomination with those who disagree with them. When an organization dissolves into such a conflicting and contradictory mess, dissolution is a very rational option.
Betsy, thank you for your polite engagement. You also make some valid points. Many progressive UM’s have broken the rules of our covenant. I actually have no problem with that since they have tried for decades to change those rules through traditional means. When rules can’t be changed that way, civil disobedience is, historically, a valid option. I do feel though, that in trying to escape the consequences of their civil disobedience, they undermine the legitimacy of it. And yes, there have also been instances where their disobedience was less than civil. BTW, the reason the conservatives have not broken the rules is because the rules were made to their favor. Those in power don’t need to break the rules they make.
Where I would disagree with you is the idea that the progressives desire schism. Yes, the progressives have initiated this situation, they are trying to change the status quo. But I disagree with your assessment of their intention. They want change, not division. Division may be the unintended (though not un-predictable) consequence of their actions.
I still stand by my assessment of Dr. Temple’s article. The reform movement has always cast themselves as taking the high road, ethically speaking, while progressives take the low road. That was the point of this article. But when Dr Temple makes provably false statements, it undermines his entire point. You can’t accuse someone of dishonesty, and use dishonesty to do it. If you watch Bishop Jones’ videos on the three plans, no reasonable person would say that he doesn’t obviously favor the TP. He is certainly entitled to that, but we shouldn’t cast him as neutral when he is not.
“Change, not division”? If we all agreed with that, how would we then go about changing the Bible to include same-sex marriage and remove the practice of homosexuality from the sins of sexual immorality while retaining the rest of the sexual immoral sins?
It’s laughable to hear excuses for wreckage the Progressive sect has foisted on the church. The damage done to faithful, young orthodox Wesleyan leaders in Progressive conferences is appalling. Careers have been thwarted and aspirations ended for calling out blatant acts of disobedience. Speaking up against the disobedient tide is as risky as speaking out against abortion at a family reunion. That’s why Dr. Temple got pushback here. The apparatchiks are quick to denounce a conservative contrarian and will seek to settle up.
Yes Mike, You hit the nail on the head…
I don’t understand how the ones at the top can pick up their fat pay checks and NOT do their jobs.
Our problem is at the top not at the bottom.