– By Dr. Jerry Kulah –
My dear brothers and sisters of The United Methodist Church from all around the world, I humbly greet you in the strong name of Jesus Christ!
We thank God for all who have participated in observing a sacred season of fasting and prayer as we have prepared for this special General Conference session. And we praise God that there are thousands upon thousands still on bended knees interceding on our behalf as we make a defining decision regarding the future of The United Methodist Church.
I thank God for His precious Word to us, and I thank him for you, my dear sisters and brothers in Christ.
As the General Coordinator of UMC Africa InitiativeI greet you on behalf of all its members and leaders. We want to thank the Renewal and Reform Coalition within the United Methodist Churchfor the invitation to address you at this important breakfast meeting. Kindly join me in reading God’s Word as recorded in the Gospel of John 8:31-32.
As I understand it, the purpose for which we have gathered this week, and the plans before us as delegates seek to find a lasting solution to the long debate over our church’s sexual ethics, its teachings on marriage, and it ordination standards.
This debate and the numerous acts of defiance have brought the United Methodist Church to a crossroads, as it were in the days of the nation of Judah when they forsook the Lord. God challenged his people through the prophet Jeremiah to choose the ancient path and walk in it so that they might find rest for their souls (Jeremiah 6:16). Similarly, God is speaking to the People Called United Methodist to do likewise.
Why there may be several plans before us, I would like to speak to just two of them. One plan invites the people called United Methodists to take a road in opposition to the Bible and two thousand years of Christian teachings. I submit to you that, going down that road would divide the church. Those advocating for the One Church Plan would have us take that road.
But I would like to call your attention to consider this other plan, the Modified Traditional Plan. This plan invites us to reaffirm Christian teachings rooted in Scripture and the church’s rich traditions.
It says, “All persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” that “All persons need the ministry of the Church”, and that “We affirm that God’s grace is available to all.”
It grounds our sexual ethics in Scripture when it says, the UM Church does “not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers [it] incompatible with Christian teaching.”
While “we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons,” we do not celebrate same-sex marriages or ordain for ministry people who self-avow as practicing homosexuals. These practices do not conform to the authentic teaching of the Holy Scriptures, our primary authority for faith and Christian living.
However, we extend grace to all people because we all know we are sinners in need of God’s redeeming. We know how critical and life changing God’s grace has been in our own lives.
We warmly welcome all people to our churches; we long to be in fellowship with them, to pray with them, to weep with them, and to experience the joy of transformation with them.
Friends, please hear me, we Africans are not afraid of our sisters and brothers who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning, or queer. We love them and we hope the best for them. But we know of no compelling arguments for forsaking our church’s understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church universal.
And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.” No!
Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.
We stand with our Filipino friends! We stand with our sisters and brothers in Europe and Russia! And yes, we stand with our allies in America.
We stand with farmers in Zambia, tech workers in Nairobi, Sunday School teachers in Nigeria, biblical scholars in Liberia, pastors in the Congo, United Methodist Women in Cote d’Ivoire, and thousands of other United Methodists all across Africa who have heard no compelling reasons for changing our sexual ethics, our teachings on marriage, and our ordination standards! We stand together!
We are grounded in God’s word and the gracious and clear teachings of our church. On that we will not yield! We will not take a road that leads us away from the truth! We will take the road that leads to the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for transformation of the world!
I hope and pray, for your sake, that you will walk down this road with us. We would warmly welcome you as our traveling companions, but if you choose another road, we Africans cannot go with you. I am sorry, we cannot!
The vast majority of we Africans support the Modified Traditional Plan for two very important reasons.
First, we believe it is clearly rooted in Scripture and the teachings of Christians in all times and in all places. It reaffirms our church’s belief that “marriage is defined as a sacred relationship between one man and one woman,” not between any two consenting adults.
Second, passage of the Modified Traditional Plan will keep far more United Methodists unitedas one church than any of the other plans.
I want to be united with my sisters and brothers in our global connection. I hope you want that as well. Let us all walk together in a church steeped in Scripture and the life transforming teachings of our church; because all scripture is God’s breathe, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness….” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We Support an Exit Plan
Finally, I trust you will support a gracious exit petition, because, as someone has said, “It is better to be separated on truth than to be united on error”. Some Africans have been told that if a gracious exit petition is passed our evangelical friends in the U.S. will go their own way and no longer support efforts in Africa. That is not true; because Hudson Taylor once opined, “God’s work done God’s way never lacks God’s supply”.
Many of us in Africa have developed deep and long-lasting friendships with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. Those relationships will not be severed if a gracious exit petition passes.
Unfortunately, some United Methodists in the U.S. have the very faulty assumption that all Africans are concerned about is U.S. financial support. Well, I am sure, being sinners like all of you, some Africans are fixated on money.
But with all due respect, a fixation on money seems more of an American problem than an African one. We get by on far less than most Americans do; we know how to do it. I’m not so sure you do. So, if anyone is so naïve or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us. Because, we know how to live on much, how to live on little, and how to live on nothing. Amen!
We are seriously joyful in following Jesus Christ and God’s holy word to us in the Bible. And in truth, we think many people in the U.S. and in parts of Europe could learn a great deal from us. The UM churches, pastors and lay people who partner with us acknowledge as much.
Please understand me when I say that the vast majority of African United Methodists will never, ever trade Jesus and the truth of the Bible for money. We will walk alone if necessary, and yet we are confident the ties of Christian fellowship we have with friends here in U.S. will not be severed even if they too must walk apart from a church that would adopt the One Church Plan.
We believe all local churches should be treated fairly and so we strongly support a gracious exit plan. Friends, not too long ago my country, Liberia was ravaged by a terrible civil war that claimed over 250,000 lives. And then we faced the outbreak of the Ebola virus that claimed thousands of lives. We are keenly familiar with hardship and sorrow, but Jesus has led us through every trial. So nothing that happens over the next few days will deter us from following Him, and Him alone.
We shall persevere in the race before us, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter” of our faith (Hebrews 2:2-3). We shall remain steadfast and faithful. And some day we shall wear the victor’s crown of glory with our King Jesus! Come walk with us!
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the blessed Holy Spirit, Amen!
Jerry P. Kulah is the dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology, United Methodist University, in Liberia. Thus address was presented at the Reform and Renewal Coalition Briefing Breakfast at the 2019 Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, 23rdFebruary 2019.
Wonderful, thoughtful, and exactly 100% correct through and through. May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be praised for raising up His people in Africa. It was for such a time as this that the divine will has been made manifest and it is marvelous in our eyes to behold this truth dispel such liberal error and falsehoods being manufactured by heterodox clergy in our church!
Here is a message for Pastor Kulah. Could you please forward this on to him? Or perhaps, send me an email where I could contact him ? Thanking you kindly.
Sr. Judith Hannah, ad. sec.,
Order of The GOOD SHEPHERD+
Your Solemn Assemblies MY+ Soul Hates
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
This is the WORD+ of The LORD
to the Special Meeting , February 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri, of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church
SINCE WHEN has it been necessary to call a meeting to decide if The WORD+ of GOD is correct ?
Where have I+ commanded you, O Men of the Church, to WEIGH the Rightness of My+ HOLY WORD ? Where have I+ commanded you to evaluate MY+ HOLY WORD, to see if it is “applicable” in YOUR day and age ?
As My+ Servant Isaiah spoke MY+ WORD,
Away with you !
My+ WORD+ is NOT determined by a vote of the populace nor by a vote of the church nor of its representatives, for
I+ ALONE determine MY+ WORD to you.
MY+ WORD is very PURE.
Therefore, MY+ Servants love it.
I+ should not have to tell you more than once that all forms of homosexuality are evil, immoral, and have caused entire civilizations to be destroyed . . . by ME+.
I+ should only have to tell you but ONCE to obey My+ WORD, not debate it. Obedience is NOT OPTIONAL.
MY+ WORD corrects society and cultures. Every one who chooses to obey ME+ must renounce their own cultural values and norms which conflict with MY+ WORD.
Why have you not taught this to MY+ People, O Men of the Church ?
These are MY+ People, MY+ flock, MY+ sheep, not yours. I+ have entrusted them into your hands as Stewards for you to teach them MY+ WORD, MY+ Ways. As MY+ Stewards you were entrusted to see that SIN is repented of.
As MY+ Stewards, you were entrusted to see that SIN does not remain in the flock, festering until the whole body of believers is infected with it.
Most definitely, if you DID NOT WARN MY+ Flock and they die in their sins, I+ will require their blood from your hands.
If they die in their sins AND YOU DID NOT WARN THEM to turn from their wicked ways, O Men of the Church, YOU are accountable as Un-Righteous Stewards.
But, perhaps you do not believe MY+ Words given to My+ Servant Ezekiel as well ?
When I+ say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die;
and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I+ require at thine hand. Ezekiel 3:18
I+ do not play with sin. Let it be known to you that I+ judge all sin.
It is clearly written in MY+ WORD what comprises SIN. It is clearly written in MY+ WORD what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah and 3 other cities which openly practiced forms of homosexuality.
Remains of their burning are even today upon this earth, yet you have ignored this and blinded the eyes of MY+ People who are seeking the Truth.
The LOVE message is very popular; no-one rejects you for it. There is little price to pay for promoting the LOVE message.
You Men of the Church cannot take MY+ LOVE and refuse MY+ Correction.
You May Not Issue MY+ LOVE to those you refuse to Correct according to MY+ WORD.
You Men of the Church may not share the LOVE of GOD and and the same time, REFUSE to WARN sinners of Hell awaiting the unrepentant.
When you share the LOVE of GOD without Repentance from SIN, I+ reject you.
Have you NEVER read MY+ WORDS recorded by MY+ Servant Matthew:
Not every one that saith unto ME+, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the Will of MY+ FATHER Which is in Heaven.
Many will say to ME+ in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy+ Name? and in Thy+ Name have cast out devils? and in Thy+ Name done many wonderful works? And then will I+ profess unto them, I+ never knew you: depart from ME+,
ye that work iniquity.
No-one who practices SIN enters the Kingdom of GOD.
MY+ WORD is full of this FACT.
Your solemn assemblies are an Abomination to ME+.
The only meeting NEEDED is to meet with ME+, not with each other.
Meet with ME+ in deep repentance, upon your face, for ignoring MY+ WORD, O Men of the Church .
Concern yourselves with confronting SIN in your own life and in your members, the SIN that is clearly explained in MY+ WORD, not your definition of sin.
I+ do not want peace at any price.
I+ WANT RIGHTEOUSNESS AT ANY COST.
I+ do not want SIN to be tolerated, mis-named, and included in your members.
I+ do not want “closet” sinners, but CLEANSED sinners. I+ gave you MY+ BLOOD for your cleansing. Repent before ME+.
I+ am looking for TRUTH amongst those who are called by MY+ Name, not tolerance.
If you read MY+ WORD, you will see that.
If you believe MY+ WORD, you will act upon it.
Remember: I+ re-make you into MY+ IMAGE. You do not change ME+ into yours.
Repent before your Candlestick is removed permanently.
Thus saith The LORD.
A Word of The LORD from The Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD+
So as I begin this new day, my last full day at General Conference here in St. Louis, I am realizing for the first time and with FEAR & TREMBLING that the One Church Plan might “win” the Day. Not Why so? BUT How so? Split vote maybe. If the vote is not taken on the separate plans but rather on a Cluster (i.e., having to choose one from many and not voting on each plan successively), then the One Church plan will “win” since the Traditional Plan and the Modified Traditional Plan will be competing for support from the same group of delegates. If however, the voting is on the individual plans and done separately and successively then either the Traditional Plan or the Modified Traditional Plan will “win” the Day. It’s like the General Elections: Did Al Gore lost because the Green Party guy split the votes? General Conference delegates need to to rally around one Plan and not allow split loyalties to the similar Plans to defeat their intent and favor. I’m just saying.
Thank you for your words, here and to the GC. Not all Americans are progressive elitists, and we do respect you and our African brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us who believe as you do are told we are full of bigotry because we lean on the Word of God, not of man.
Blessings to you and your ministry.
Boldness comes from the Lord like on the day of Pentecost when Peter spoke, Daniel and the 3 Hebrews men . The Word of The Lord stands all by itself. We rather obey God than man. I stand with the African Brothers and Sisters.
Just a poor Baptist, but a brother in Christ, I salute you and your words, Pastor Kulah. I am richer for reading your message and immensely encouraged by the stand my African brethren have taken. May your ‘tribe’ increase, dear brother!
And the Lord is making all things new.