Letters to the Editor
Stop the dollars
As a retired elder from the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, I read with interest in your Jan/Feb 2010 issue, the article about the meeting with the “Renewal group leaders and the Bishops’ Unity Task Force.”
How can an organization that has lost one-third of its customers (read UM members) during the past 30 years continue to do business as usual with the same type and style of leadership? The board of directors or the shareholders would have fired the leaders long ago. Likewise no military commander could take those type of loses and retain his/her command. This does not appear to apply to our bishops or agencies.
I do not believe we will see any real reform in the UMC until the amount of dollars stops pouring into the national church, thus forcing our bishops and boards, which drink from this trough of UM riches, to actually become responsive to the will of the membership. As long as money is sent up the chain, we can yell as loudly as we want but nobody will listen until the dollars stop.
Let’s stop the flow of money up the pipeline, implement term limits for bishops, and make our UM boards and agencies accountable while there is still time to save the UM Church and our Wesleyan heritage.
Indeed, as a whole, I consider Good News a valuable asset for any pastor. But I am sensitive to what I hope is only an innocent oversight by the contributing writers to the magazine and to those “others” who respond with letters to the editor; that is, in our panic to discover how to revitalize our denomination, we seem to only have a hope if we rekindle the practice and theology of Wesley.
Now, I think my concern will be like “one crying in the wilderness,” but why are we overlooking the contribution and uniqueness of the “other” founders of our “United” denomination: Philip William Otterbein, Martin Boehm, Jacob Albright? I assume we still use the word “United” in our conversations, although it seems we have shortened our language and thinking to just “Methodist.” Let’s take a closer look at the enthusiasm and uniqueness, which the Evangelical United Brethren Church brought to the table in 1968 and add it to our research for fixing what is wrong with the whole house. Our blinding concern with proper “program” and “method” seems to lead us away from what should be the core of our doctrine; that is, an absolute allegiance to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. How about we get excited over Jesus as soon as possible, and our historical search for a “fix” will reward us with new life and relevance to a wandering society.
David A. Keller
Central Pennsylvania Conference
Get a grip
The recent dialogue between the renewal group and the Bishops’ Unity Task Force was enlightening, but I’m deeply disappointed with the powder puff response of Bishop Sally Dyck. Good News should follow up the reaction of the Council of Bishops. My concern is about our shrinking membership and its corresponding impact on local and national finances. What has the Council of Bishops done to alleviate, perhaps solve, this downward spiral that has been unabated for a number of years?
May I suggest that our 47 active bishops and 90 retired (those able) should go out in the hustings and rally the troops in old-fashioned evangelistic meetings. Weren’t they chosen for their gift as great preachers? In our some 40 years of living in the USA, I’ve seen only one bishop preach in a church where I’ve been a member. Their presence may not significantly boost dwindling church rolls and budget deficits, but they will certainly lift morale and strengthen faith. Quit talking about geopolitical matters. Get real, bishops!
The episcopacy and its 13 bureaucratic general agencies, including conference staff, are supported by apportionments. This top-heavy hierarchy is untenable and unrealistic. Apportionments are causing havoc on the budgets of many local churches. Apportionments are hardly met in Iowa churches. Ministers are forced to appeal to members to increase their giving. This, in the face of current economic doldrums? How about a freeze on apportionments and bishop entitlements? Come on!
There is an urgent need to overhaul these institutional structures to conform with the prevailing realities in the marketplace. We need more transparency on episcopal issues and accountability of our financial dilemma. Good News’ suggestion to hold a special session of the General Conference to address reorganizational matters is a timely wake up call. Bishops, this is reality. Get a grip!
Artemio R. Guillermo
I read your article today and wanted to thank you for your thoughtful statement in response to GCFA’s request to have a special session of General Conference. Your statement clearly lines out what Good News has believed is the deeper problem of our decline and calls not only GCFA but the Bishops and the whole church to accountability.
Western Pennsylvania Conference
In regard to Good News’ statement on Afghanistan, would not a better statement be: “In this time of contested orthodoxy, declining membership, and troubled finances, we call upon the Council of Bishops to rightly govern the church, the task to which it is called, and not attempt governing the nation, a task to which it is neither called nor qualified.”