By Thomas Lambrecht –
United Methodists in the Greater Northwest Area, under the leadership of Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, have again decided to disregard the letter and spirit of United Methodist Church teachings. Indeed, it seems Stanovsky has gone out of her way to poke the eye of any vestige of church unity during this time of prayer and discernment about a faithful way forward for our denomination.
On February 19, Stanovsky announced the appointment of the Rev. Kathleen Weber to serve as the District Superintendent for the Crest to Coast Missional District in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. Weber is a second generation United Methodist pastor, a graduate of Candler School of Theology, and has been under appointment since 2005. Oh, and by the way, she is married to Dr. Danae Dotolo.
The fact that an openly married lesbian is serving as a pastor in The United Methodist Church in the state of Washington is not surprising, but it is disheartening. The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is one of those conferences that stated it would ignore the issue of sexual orientation or practice in considering candidates for ministry, and that it would not conform to the requirements of the Book of Discipline regarding marriage and sexuality. It appears that, despite the Judicial Council declaring such actions by annual conferences to be illegal under the Discipline, Bishop Stanovsky and conference leaders continue to ignore the parts of the Discipline that they disagree with.
Even more disheartening during this time of discernment, however, is that the bishop would appoint a married lesbian as a district superintendent. This raising of the profile of Weber is an overt defiance of United Methodist standards and a callous disregard for the attempt by the Commission on a Way Forward to find a fair and faithful way for our church to resolve its impasse over these matters. It certainly makes it more difficult to come to a positive and unifying resolution of our disagreements.
But Stanovsky was not finished. On February 22, she announced that the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference (which she also
serves) is hiring a half-time LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator for the conference. The Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is a Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor and was an Assistant Professor of Christian Nurture at Duke Divinity School. He and his partner, Dean, have been together for 22 years and have two adult children.
In deference to the fact that the Book of Discipline forbids the spending of church funds “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality” (¶ 613.19), funding for this position is being received from The Collins Foundation, a family foundation located in Portland, Oregon, dedicated to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Many of the activities to be supported by Webb-Mitchell are conducted in partnership with the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, the group that has been promoting at General Conference a change in the United Methodist teachings in order to allow same-sex weddings and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. (This is in addition to the extravagant funding that pro-gay General Conference efforts have received from wealthy non-United Methodist foundations such as the Arcus Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.)
These two announcements, within days of each other, constitute a double-barreled assault on the church’s standards and further diminish prospects of an amicable resolution of the current impasse in our church. Along with the continued service of married lesbian Bishop Karen Oliveto in the Mountain Sky Area (despite the Judicial Council ruling her consecration illegal), this escalation in the form of the appointment of two openly gay clergy to annual conference leadership positions is an “in your face” repudiation of United Methodist polity and discipline.
As the Commission on a Way Forward conducts its eighth meeting next week and prepares to send its final report to the Council of Bishops, it has become more apparent than ever that we are two churches pretending to be one.
Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News.
If the Commission on a Way Forward sends a proposal containing Options#2 and #3, after earlier dropping Option #1 at the request of the bishops, it will have joined the Greater Northwest Area in an “in your face” repudiation of United Methodist polity and discipline — thus rendering its existence and purpose null and void.
Yes, we are now two diametrically opposite churches pretending to be one.
There is no way forward now except either a complete split or standing firm and strengthening the BOD, with real provisions for removing these in outright and intentional defiance of church law.
The time for being nice and accommodating on the part of the orthodox folks in the UMC is OVER.
The only way to solve this issue is to make bishops accountable for not following the book of discipline. The only way that will happen is if they can be charged from anywhere in the UM and the trial held in the area where the charges are filed. The western Jurisdiction under the current set of Bishops or any others that will come out of the are will never uphold the current discipline and have no intention to do so. It is also time for the Bishops to be appointed by GC and not by the jurisdictions. The only other solution is to get rid of them altogether, and elect a president from the floor of GC. This is much closer to what Wesley did for the Methodist movement before he died.
Let’s not spin conservative webs of illusion about forcing bishops to perform like marionettes. These acts of defiance are what they are because annual conferences OWN the churches, parsonages, parking lots, playgrounds, pews, hymn books, Bibles and bread crumbs within the boundary of the conference. General Conference does not hold title to these properties. Conferences act at whim and with liberty because they can. This is current reality. Progressive conferences WILL NOT submit their revisionist agendas to the whole church. Traditionalists will not be able to force this. A more revolutionary and daring proposal must come from WCA and its allies.
Those who seek to nullify 200 years of church tradition and biblical orthopraxy do not want to be connected to me. My faith causes them to recoil. I’m past ready to move on. I will not be assuaged by “middle way” compromises that mock the faith in order to mollify those who have abandoned it.
Option #1 is back on the table? If so, why did the bishops take it off in the first place, or recommend it be taken off? What is going on here? Will someone step forth and give us a straight answer?
I support the work and leadership of my Bishop. I thank God for her wisdom and Grace.
It is evident that we have allowed this heresy to go on too long and now it has its tenticals running throughout the denomination. We are beyond remedy now! It is time to turn back to God in repentance but the blind do not wish to repent! They don’t see the need for repentance! Yet without repentance we are all wasting time remaining in this dead sect. It would have never come to this point if we had had bishops and elders who were in relationship with Jesus Christ. It is clear that is no longer a requirement for ordination or consecration.
It boggles my mind how much people stress the problem with open violations of paragraph 2702.1b yet completely overlook numerous violations of 2702.1d, e, j, and k. Not to mention how rarely we call out violations of 2702.3! It is hypocritical to criticize some and not others.
I wouldn’t count on it. I agree with Gary, there has to be one unified plan that will solve this problem coming from Good News, WCA, and others of similar minds. They need to come together, develop a plan and start selling it now.
“Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”
(Dr. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Lutheran theologian – 1996)
Two items. First, this new DS comes off an appointment where in 5 years worship attendance dropped in half under her leadership. The bishop seems to have forgotten the difference between someone who makes an impression and someone who just leave a hole. Second, and far more important, we are a few days from the start of Holy Week. Most Americans, to quote Wesley, “have no more religion than a horse and are perishing from the lack of it,’ and the church is positioned to share again the redeeming story of Christ’s atoning death and resurrection…and we see huge amounts of spiritual and emotional energy flow to issues like sexuality. The 2019GC can’t do most of what folks seem to want but it can take action, even through inaction, to leave us with a church (or churches) that return to focus on what matters most.
Best bishop I’ve ever served under. Smart, faithful, dedicated, wise, committed to the Gospel. It’s my pleasure to serve under Bishop Stanovsky, who has my fullest and strongest support.
We are split. The churches I serve are restricting income beyond the local church until there is definition that funds will not be used to support abortion or same gender marriage . None of the options are viable unless there is a streamlined judicial process to remove those who violate discipline; and means for a local church to pull out with property. Now is the time to stand!
Kathleen Weber will be my DS and I am SO excited about it! Her appointment has nothing to do with a pro-gay rights platform, though of course we in the PNW are fully supportive of our colleagues who were called by God to be ministers and also happen to identify with the queer community. Instead, her appointment was based on her SKILLS and GRACES to be a darn good DS! She has been leading our conference’s residence in ministry program and I thoroughly appreciate the guidance and leadership she has offered to my class as we prepare for our own ordinations. It will be a privilege to work with her in a new capacity. Quit making this about something it isn’t. This isn’t a slap in the Commission’s face. It’s just us doing ministry within our social context and choosing to prioritize what truly matters in discerning the best possible appointments.
Correction. The article states, “The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is one of those conferences that stated it would ignore the issue of sexual orientation or practice in considering candidates for ministry,” The statement written and approved by the PNW BOM does not say we will ignore issues of sexual orientation and practice, but that we “affirm that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live up to our high standards for fitness, readiness, and effectiveness in ministry.” Kathleen’s appointment isn’t defiance; it’s wisdom, as she is particularly gifted for the work of a district superintendent.
A really good option (in my opinion) has been proposed by Chris Ritter.
By the logic of the progressive sect, traditionalists would argue their case by pleading the merits of Tom Lambrecht or Rob Renfroe. Well, they are both “good guys” but that would not justify unlawful acts.
March 21, 2018
An Open Letter
To Rev. Tom Lambrecht, member of the Commission on a Way Forward
From Elaine Stanovsky, bishop of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church
My heart is not at war. I am not using clergy and staff appointments to undermine the unity of the Church or the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. My heart was at peace when I appointed Rev. Kathleen Weber to my cabinet. It was at peace when I approved hiring Rev. Brett Webb-Mitchell by the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. These are two deeply faithful, highly qualified, effective leaders, well suited for the ministry contexts they are called to serve. They were not chosen for their sexual orientation. I did not disqualify them because they are honest about their relationships.
I’ll admit that I felt defensive when I read your article, “Northwest United Methodist Defiance.”1 “Poke in the eye,” “overt defiance,” “callous disregard,” “double-barreled assault,” “escalation,” “in your face repudiation.” Why do you think you know my heart? We never had a conversation.
So, I returned to the The Anatomy of Peace,2 recommended by the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops as a way to disarming ourselves for the difficult conversations the Church needs to have. I re-read the section called, “From War to Peace,” and practiced the steps for “getting out of the box” of self-justification and blaming:
1. Look for the signs of self-justification and blaming. This was easy for me. You took two of my actions out of context, weaponized them with aggressive rhetoric, and lobbed them into the last meeting of the Commission. You misrepresented my motives. You never asked me what I believe, why I believe what I believe or why I lead the way I lead. And you didn’t even have the courtesy to send me your article. I first saw it when a friend forwarded it to me as an email distributed on March 16, 2016, three days before it was available publicly as a blog on the Good News Magazine website. You aren’t practicing the practices that the Commission recommends.
2. Find an out-of-the box place. There was a time when a colleague lashed out at me in a meeting, accusing me of racism. I broke into tears and retreated from the meeting and the accusation. A friend sought me out, listened to my pain and invited me to be the whole and well person he knew that I could be. My heart returned to peace and I was able to approach the person I had offended, and begin a long slow journey to healing.
3. Ponder the situation anew. What are this person’s challenges, trials, burdens and pains? How am I adding to them? Wow! I only know you as a guy who attacks from a safe distance rather than picking up the phone. Can I cultivate curiosity about what pain you bear? How are your opinions and actions shaped by your love of Jesus?
4. Act upon what I have discovered; do what I think I should do. I think I should not strike back. I should respond with curiosity. Yet, I think I should not remain silent. I invite you to play fair. I invite you to disarm. Despite deep misgivings, I will give you the benefit of my doubt – that you might want our United Methodist Church to be strong into the future and faithful to God’s leading as much as I do. I hope and pray this is true. If it is true, and we are willing, God can teach each of us to love the other as we love ourselves. I invite you to talk with me before you write about me. I invite you to send me a copy of anything you write about me before you send it to your email distribution list or post it on the internet. I will commit to abiding by the same standard in the future.
You are meeting with the Commission on a Way Forward as I write. I pray for you, Tom, and for the work of the Commission. I pray for the future of our church, that we will find a way to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ, even as we continue to seek to understand the fullness of God’s intention for humankind. I hope that, as a member of the Commission, you are leading us in the way the Commission said it would at the beginning. Do you remember?
The Commission will design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible.
We need a Church that aspires to this vision: one church, a variety of expressions; one body, many parts. In the Northwest we’re cultivating this spirit, in support of the Commission’s work, as we send 50 trained leaders across the area to facilitate Table Talks about the Way Forward between now and June, and dedicate 4 ½ hours during our Annual Conference sessions to The Anatomy of Peace and small group conversations. God is at work when two or three gather. I’m expecting miracles.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
1 “Northwest United Methodist Defiance,” by Thomas Lambrecht, circulated by email from email@example.com on Friday, March 16, 2018, and posted as personal blog on Monday, March 19, http://tomlambrecht.goodnewsmag.org/northwest-united-methodist-defiance/.
2 The Anatomy of Peace, resolving the heart of conflict, The Arbinger Institute, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006.
With all due respect Bishop Stanovsky, your outburst does not address the issue. The ISSUE — you are in defiance of United Methodist Church law and the UMC Judicial Council. You vowed to defend and uphold United Methodist Church law. You are defying church law instead with these appointments. Yes, to the rest of the UMC, your actions, no matter how you spin them, are indeed a poke in the eye. And, attacking the messenger does not erase the facts.
Question to anyone who might know: Has anyone done a quick survey of the 116 Methodist branches that make up the World Methodist Council to determine where they stand on the issues under discussion?
Table Talks: meaning–until we get the results we want, we’ll keep insisting on dialogue!
You are in defiance. You can try to justify your position all you want. You do not respect the BOD or the COB. You are merely making a political point. People in your conference are showing their disapproval of you and your leadership by walking out and leaving. Maybe you should be concentrating on your steep membership decline which is one of the highest of any conference.
As I grow and learn as an adult, I have learned that conflict, confrontation, and direct communication is more valuable than trying to appear to take the high road by cleverly crafting change that undermine an institution. I would respect a bishop that says overtly, “I have an agenda that is in conflict with the BOD, but I am not concerned what it says or what you think about it, in fact I can and will get away with going forward with my agenda and no one will discipline me for doing this, in fact, I am untouchable with regard to this matter. Please learn to live with my view and agenda or find somewhere else to go”. That is direct and overt, it attempts politeness with the word please as well. I don’t respect a subversive agenda pursuit that has the appearance of civility and politeness but hides true intentions. The fact that Tom and many others have figured out this agenda and the open but civil disobedience to the church rules does not mean they are creating war, it means they are acknowledging the conflict that has been created and are calling it according to what it is. To the southerner who had his home burned down by Sherman, the righteous cause of the union army was an aggressive act, to the northerner, the submission of the southerner to their will became more important than the acknowledgment of the humanity and rights of the enslaved blacks. There is a way to peacefully solve what everyone knows to be true, all persons have sacred worth because God created them. It’s a tough situation and it may require a peaceful separation within the UMC, but the church law as it stands should be upheld unless those who wish to go against it want to depart in peace. The most important thing is honesty about position so there is no confusion and peace in resolution so there is no war. This defiant act is an aggressive one that is viewed as a sort of “I double dog dare you”. What we need to do is ratchet down the disobedience while a peaceful resolution is sorted out. These acts are read as aggressive by the more traditional members of the UMC who fund the salaries of very liberal clergy and bishops that feel entitled to the money and the power to make moves that they ought to know will displease the traditional United Methodists.
The United Methodist Church has a huge sexual immorality problem. Every reputable study done in the last decade concludes around 95% of unmarried adults are having sex. Maybe we should turn some of our attention to them. How often do UMC pastors refuse to marry straight couples engaging in pre-marital sex? How often do UMC pastors refuse to marry couples who live together? How often do we allow our churches to host weddings for non-members, non-believers, atheists, etc, just cuz some mother wants her daughter to have a church wedding? It’s easy to focus on what the Book of Discipline says about homosexuality.Wanna be bold, take on heterosexual fornication.
You speak of us needing “one church, a variety of expressions, one body, many parts”. If you were describing a human a psychiatrist would diagnose them with multiple personality disorder. Instead of a church divided into different denominations you want a church divided within itself. What we need is one church, one coherent theology, one enforced set of doctrinal standards, even if that means that what is now one becomes two. I am wondering if you understand that those of us that are traditionalists absolutely cannot be a part of a church that we feel endorses sin, even if we are in separate buildings or branches. Only if you do not comprehend that can you claim that you are not poking us in the eye. The overwhelming number of the laity do not want the church to endorse gay marriage or ordination. Come to the heartland, talk to us, and you will see. If your current plan goes through you will lose a third of the denomination in five years, at least.
I’m fairly certain you will not read this, so I hesitate to even bother writing it. However, some of the points you raise here demand refutation, and I can, at least, ensure those reading here see one.
You begin by declaring “My heart is not at war. I am not using clergy and staff appointments to undermine the unity of the Church or the work of the Commission on a Way Forward..”. However, the problem is that objectively your appointments actually do violence to the unity of the Church, and so your subjective motivations are utterly irrelevant to the charge at hand. If, with no malice in his heart, Donald Trump dropped a bomb on the UK, the fact it was not intended from a mean-spirit does not make it any less of an act of war.
Continuing on, you refer to the two people you have appointed as “…two deeply faithful, highly qualified, effective leaders, well suited for the ministry contexts they are called to serve.” However, that statement is objectively wrong and completely indefensible. They may well have certain giftings that subjectively lend themselves toward those positions, but they DO NOT meet any objective criteria for those posts as defined by the Book of Discipline or, far more importantly, the Bible itself. Therefore, they are absolutely, unequivocally, and objectively unqualified for these posts. You say that you did not disqualify them for being honest about their feelings, but are we to believe you would not disqualify some one who admits to you living in on-going adultery? How about if they admitted to you they really have a thing for worshiping Vishnu? Those are also unequivocal grounds for disqualification according to the Bible (and less importantly the Book of Discipline), so I would l like to think there is no question in your mind there. However, given the unequivocal nature of the Scriptures themselves on the topic of homosexual relationships to sin, you have already undermined the authority of the Bible to the point that I’m just not sure.
Furthermore, you conclude “We need a Church that aspires to this vision: one church, a variety of expressions; one body, many parts.” I agree, we do need a Church that aspires to one vision, that of God, His Love, His Holiness, His Justice, His Mercy, and on His terms as laid out in the Bible. Unfortunately, your actions are divisive to that unity, and your rebellion against God’s revealed authoritative Word threatens to undermine all of Christian witness to this hurting and dying world (although Christ will not allow you to deal a death blow (Mat. 16:18)). Bishop Stanovsky, I am praying for you and for the UMC, that the council of Bishops will repent from this apostasy and turn and lead the UMC back to Scriptural faithfulness in the same way that Christ charged Peter in Luke 22:32.
A Former United Methodist
When was it that the “orthodox” folks were nice and accommodating? Better question is why haven’t these “orthodox” folks left the UMC? Could it be about money or property? I’m wondering to how the “orthodox” Christians in the early church acted after the “General Conference in Jerusalem” voted to allow those Gentiles into full membership? Seems to me that the tradition of the Church is to change in many ways and understandings as it grows in their love, knowledge, and experiences with God Look how the UMC has grow in its understanding and love for God and others: Laity are now delegates to General Conference, women are now ordained, the church is not divided by race, etc. I’m excited about how God might surprise us as we move into God’s future with open hearts, open minds, and open doors.
I am listening. Did you know? I’m not so young any more, and I hope I’m a bit wiser than I was fifty years ago. One thing I’ve learned, that what we say is often a symptom of something else. With that in mind, I want you to hear that your pain is obvious to me. Your fear is palpable in every heartbeat, of every syllable you grab hold of, to build that wall between you and that other person. To separate yourself from… Your perceived enemy. Am i your enemy too? I wonder. And I wonder, how do you interpret Matthew 5:43-48? Seriously. What did Jesus mean about that?
Wisdom calls out to imperfect human wisdom, and I wonder how you feel so self-assured. i am afraid of picking up stones to throw at you. i am afraid i might inadvertently hit Christ, who leaves these decisions in our hands.
Are you examining that other person at length- Are you pushing him or her away, to protect your faith? Can’t love withstand differences of thought, of opinion, of understanding? I am growing old in tradition, and I remember the lesson I learned from this season of Lent… about examining ourselves, not our neighbors… ourselves.
Will that wall you are building keep you safe from him or her, or me—or will you inadvertently fall into the trap of imprisonment? Whose heart will be hardened?
I would venture to say you don’t really know that person, or me (whether you live a mile apart or two thousand miles apart) if you have never sat down to eat a meal and talk, and listen, and share your story and talk about your fears, and dreams, and listen to theirs. Are you willing to listen? Seriously. What are you afraid of—me? Why? you don’t know me. Are you afraid you don’t matter? You do.
So does every other soul on our planet. (“Let those who have ears to hear…”)
Are you afraid God will judge you, if you or i don’t condemn a brother or sister in Christ as sinful?
Are you so sure of your position that you are willing to shout “crucify!” this close to Easter?
I am listening to you. i am urging you to listen as well. Not to me; i am nobody. i don’t have to win, i don’t have to be right. I am bound to you by Christ, over and above all. And I want you to know I am listening. So are others. We are not alone.
This I know- there is no theological consensus or scriptural agreement among United Methodists concerning ordination of persons with sexual preferences not in agreement with the majority’s preference.
This I believe- that in matters where God’s love and compassion conflict with legalism, we should choose the former to direct our actions.
As a lay person, I stand with Bishop Stanovsky! I believe two things: 1) When a family member comes out as LGBTQ, minds and attitudes will change!, (watch out what you say…you may be sorry some day). and 2) The conservative view of United Methodist The Discipline does not express the true meaning of God’s love for all his created children and should be changed. HOW DARE we cast judgment on peaceful, loving, committed, and serving persons! That is not why we were created or put on this earth to do!
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love? Perhaps some of us want to be followers of Christ rather than having out-dated “standards” applied to an evolving culture. Does anyone remember when the Methodist Church was pro-slavery?
To claim objectivity in this way is to lack humility about one’s own imperfect understanding. As one strives for a more perfect faith, lessons are learned and courses are corrected. The previous finding that homosexuality is sinful is based on assumptions of sexuality that we now know to be false.
Do you also follow the scriptural teaching that rapists are required to marry their victims? I certainly hope not.
Rather than charge that the Bishop doesn’t know the Bible, it is more the case that she reads the Bible differently than you.
This is beautiful. Though I am not sure to whom it is addressed.
Remember that time Jesus ate with tax collectors?
Sara, They should know we are Christians by our love. But, the discussion is about actions. This Bishop’s actions have left my conference, the Yellowstone Conference, in shambles. When she came to our conference we had a full time Pastor and now we have to share a Pastor with another Church that has the same problems.
This Bishop has a history of promoting people with few or no accomplishments to higher positions. Our current Bishop was promoted without any accomplishments, these are actions that can be examined factually, even though we don’t know what is in her heart.
In our evolving culture is the bible outdated? Are the ten commandments outdated? the Nicene Creed? the Apostles Creed
Stephen, I pray that you are counseling your churches to pay their full apportionment. Deliberately encouraging a church to not pay apportionments may be a violation of discipline and chargeable under 2702. See, for example, http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/judicial-council-rules-on-apportionment-question
Scott says: “we need … one enforced set of doctrinal standards,”
John Wesley said: “as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist.”
Scott, I disagree with you. The last thing we need is one enforced set of doctrinal standards. We need to love God, love each other, preach the hope of the gospel, and minister together to a broken world. We must not let non-essential disagreements deter us from our mission.
Perhaps I am just tired. Or perhaps I’ve allowed myself to be pulled into complacency by the love, kindness and humanity shown by the two UMCs I have had the pleasure of being an active membourer for the past 15 years. Even though neither congregation agreed with unanimity on this very divisive subject, we nonetheless managed to find unanimity in our love and reapect for each other.
That gave me hope that we could love with the tension of our disagreements because we were United in our love of Christ and in the n the acceptance of his Mercy and Grace, freely given despite our unit
And so, reading this feels jarring. I am once again hearing Loyd and clear that I am not welcomed, not wanted in the UMC. I am hearing that God’s love stops short of me because I have built life and a family with a woman. Does God want our children’s home to be split? I wonder if this fact that I am in love with someone of my own gender is so repugnant to the God who made me that I should be cast out from his House. Cast out because of love?
I am getting closer each to to finding my membership intolerable and unsustainable. I may reject this denomination, but I will not reject Christ. Still, I wonder, how many LGBTQ people will reject the wonderful gift of God’s love because of the uncompromising stance of some of His “followers?” I wonder if those whose unwillingness to accept the mere possibility that they are not correctly discerning God’s will for others understand the damage they are doing to God’s Kingdom?
You profess to act in Christ’s name, but all I hear is rejection and judgment.
And if it does not, she will lose half in as many years. So-called “traditionalists” seem to believe that this is the issue of such importance they are unable to turn the other cheek as it were. What you fail to understand is that those of us with a more liberal theology struggle just as much with the sinfulness exclusionary practices as you do with same-sex relationships. And yet we are have worked to remain in relationship with you, despite your rejection of what we see as God’s loving plan.
I am under no illusion that my understanding of Scripture is imperfect. However, it is absolutely sufficient to make a stand on an issue that shows up explicitly and repeatedly throughout the entirety of the Bible and is always and everywhere condemned as sin. The very nature of sin itself is a declaration to be God. Typically, this shows up as claiming the prerogatives of God, like deciding what is good and what is evil, see Genesis 3.
That is a vicious strawman. The issue you bring up is fundamentally different on several levels: 1)how do we understand the relationship between the old and new covenant, 2) what is the local context, 3) is this prohibition renewed? etc. Wesley ascribed to a form of Covenant Theology, and this matters because it deals with how you put the book together. I would recommend you do a little bit of reading on the topic. However, it would hold there are 3 kinds of laws: civil, ceremonial, and moral. The civil law was to apply to the theocracy of Ancient Israel, and it is no longer applicable today because we don’t live within its scope. It does however serve to show us something of the holiness of God. The ceremonial law, like the dietary law and the laws regarding priests and sacrifices, was fulfilled in Christ, and its purpose was to enable us to understand God’s holiness and what Christ accomplished on our behalf. The Moral law, on the other hand, is always and everywhere applicable because it is a direct corollary to the nature of God. These are summed up in the Great commandment, which is a summary of the 10 commandments, which are unpacked in various places, not least of which is the New Testament. There are other theological schemes of how the Old and New covenant fit together, but, for now, it is enough to say they all draw a distinction similar to the above where the Old Testament laws do not carry directly through, and the Scripture references to back up that position. If you see the comment section in the “respect or Contempt” article, I have already responded, at some length, to the terrible argument that we get the idea homosexuality is sinful from assumptions false or otherwise. I also deal, at some length, with this postmodern there is no true way to read the scriptures claim.
Now, my claim is not that she doesn’t know the Bible. Rather it is that she does know it and yet rejects the teachings it contains while claiming the name of Christ. My claim is that there is a objectively true interpretation, and I certainly do not claim to have cornered the market on that. However, on points that are so emphasized and so repeated with no deviation throughout essentially all of the different parts of the Bible and contexts in which it was given, there is no room for dissent within the church regardless of what culture believes. If you disagree with then Paul’s statement in Gal. 1:6-10 makes no sense. So then, disagreeing on those points is the height of apostasy and false teaching because it is making yourself the authority over what God has revealed.
Disputable matters are just that (think infant vs adult baptism) but clear scripture is clear scripture and the doctrinal standards should be built on clear scripture. The scriptures are clear, homosexuality is a sin, period. Loving someone is not telling them anything is ok, especially sin. Loving them is helping them get the sin out of their lives so they can go to heaven. Everyone likes to site the story of the woman who was to be stoned for adultery as an excuse for us not to say anything when we see sin. Jesus’ last words to her were “go and sin no more”. It is not “loving” to tell someone their sin is ok, when it will lead them to hell. The word of God (not mine) are clear on this issue.
No one is against eating with tax collectors. Lori’s point is that current “table talks” are not what they seem. They are not simple table fellowships. In current practice they more resemble the invitation of the spider to the fly. The progressive sect “invites” us to come to the table, with the intent of suborning change in the church’s historic understandings of marriage and sexuality. These talks are never about reclaiming the church’s historic understandings. The progressive sect is unified around a strategy of concealing an agenda inside an envelope of dissemblance. But objective acts of disobedience have exposed these table talks for what they truly are, a sham and a stalking horse.
How can one reject and judge Jesus?
“PRIDE” cometh before the fall. People will tell you exactly what they are all about if you just open your eyes. Pride is one of the 7 deadly sins correct? I like my pride, it’s a noun not an adjective though. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is the leader of the only “pride” that I think is worthwhile. The African United Methodists know what kind of pride a lion belongs to. King of the Jungle, King of the Jews. The “pride” will come before the fall.
This is about honesty. We need to be honest with each other.
The United Methodist denomination is honest in publishing their beliefs and what they expect from their members, clergy and bishops. Each of us freely chose to join the UMC and at the time we said we agreed with their beliefs and would support them.
Bishop Stanovsky says she is honest about who she is and therefore is comfortable about the positions she supports. Apparently she was not honest about what she believed when she was ordained and does not mind misleading others into a denomination with which they disagree. There are Christian denominations that share her beliefs so it is difficult to understand why she would do this. The power, notoriety, and good salary with benefits could be a reason.
We enjoy religious freedom in this country. If we cannot find a religious group with which we agree, we can join with like minded people to start a new one.
I thought the only requirement to attend a Methodist is to be a sinner in search of God’s Grace. I am sure your sins are not as great as mine.
Exactly. It is beyond my comprehension as to why those in defiance of the UMC are not the ones exiting or being exited. They are in abject rebellion. They are dishonest and unethical because they vowed to defend and uphold UMC doctrine and law but are now aggressively working to subvert and destroy it. Dishonesty is not strong enough to describe what is really going on. Heresy would do better. The 2019 General Conference should be meeting solely for the purpose of dealing with this rebellion. Yet, our bishops are about to put forth a plan to accommodate and reward it. What does that say about them?
TRADITIONAL, CONTEXTUAL, and PROGRESSIVE values. Please direct me to the SCRIPTURES that this will be based on.
P. Perry You nailed it.
There was a time that I didn’t recognize that some who debate issues simply want to win an argument, they don’t want to know the truth.
My feeling is that many within the reconciling community don’t really care what God thinks, they don’t believe that the written word of God is reliable, God-breathed truth which is necessary and sufficient for salvation. They seem to wish to claim that if they practice sexual sin then God made them that way. I’m not sure how a Bible-believing disciple of Christ can agree with that view – nor want it in their church. I do understand that many don’t read the Bible and can fall victim to deceptive rhetoric. Satan used deceptively omitted/twisted Scripture when He tested Jesus. Jesus responded with correctly understood Scripture. That is the nature of spiritual battle. Please, don’t read about the Bible, read the Bible. It is the sword of the Spirit. Many distort the word of God; Yes, even pastors and bishops. We Methodists seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Christ affirmed the truth of Scripture and said to abide in His word and to do it. We are to Love God. We are to love our neighbors. (Love is not lust. Lust is not love. Love does not necessitate lust.)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:31-32 [NKJV]
But He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
– Luke 8:21 [NKJV]
Our standards affirm the Bible as the source of all that is “necessary” and “sufficient” unto salvation (Articles of Religion) and “is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice” (Confession of Faith).
– UMC Book of Discipline: Theological Guidelines: Scripture
If you are Christian, the following is written to you. During my morning Bible reading I came across the following Holy Scripture which should guide and encourage us as we engage in spiritual battles.
Be prepared . . .
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. – Ephesians 6:10-20 [NRSV]
Be aware . . .
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. – Jude 14-25 [NKJV]
Be at peace with God, calm, gentle, earnestly prayerful, and meditate on Godly truth and the praisworthy . . .
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. – Philipians 4:4-8 [NKJV]
God bless you! See you in heaven – if not before!
. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life . . . – Deuteronomy30:19 [NRSV]
I was once told that I shouldn’t get between God and the LGBT community. Holy Scripture tells me that our own sin separates us from God. Reading Holy Scripture is how we find out what God thinks. I hope you will agree with me that neither your opinion, nor my opinion, but God’s opinion is what matters when it comes to sin and salvation. Yes, we and God love sinners. However, love does not desire that others die in the sin. That is why Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose on the third day according to the scriptures. Repent, believe, invite Christ in as Lord and Savior. Be sanctified by the reading of Holy Scripture with guidance from the in-dwelling Holy Spirit. It will change your life! Believe it. Prepare for it. We once practiced sin (continuing intentional disobedience to God, which brings spiritual death). Change comes. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t delay. May God grant sufficient time to the unrepentant unsaved.
Christ Jesus said, “If you abide in my word you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:31-32 [NRSV]. Believe Christ. Believe the word of God.
I encourage you to join me in praying the following Psalm.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your Sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14 [NRSV]
Next, read what God has to say in the Holy Scriptures that follow. The links will show you parallel versions of the New Revise Standard w/Apocrypha (NRSA) and the New King James Version (NKJV).
1) Jude verses 4-8 (1-8 for context)
2) Romans 1.24-32 (15-32 for context)
3) 1 Timothy 1.8-11
4) 1 Corinthians 6.9-11
5) Mark 10:5-12 (1-12 for context)
6) Matthew 19:4-6 (1-9 for context)
7) Acts 15:28-29
8) Leviticus 18:22, 30 (22-30 for context)
9) 1-thessalonians 4:1-8
10) John 3:16-21
11) 2-Peter 3.9
12) Psalm 34:13-24
So, there you have it. The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Praise God! Amen.
While some individuals in so-called “reconciling” churches seem not to believe that same-gender sexual activity is sin, Biblical “reconciliation” [Colossians 1:19-23] denotes Grace-delivered peace with God. God offers his gift of Grace. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. We must repent of our sins and accept Christ as our Lord (obey him) and savior. Once we accept it, Grace is the conduit that brings change and renewal to us. The practice of sin (intentional repeated sin) ends. Good works and fruit of the spirit flow forth as God’s light shines through us to the world. Eventually, sin is found in us less often as God sanctifies us. If sexual sin doesn’t end, faith should be examined with haste. Eternity can be tragically finalized in a heartbeat for the faithless.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:7-10 [NRSV]
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
God loves you. May God bless you. Alan
Reconciliation: Ephesians 2; Colossians 1:19-23
No. The Table Talks in question are events within the Greater Northwest Area around matters of sexuality as a whole. They are opportunities to listen to one another, little else. They are the impetus of the Council of Bishops. Your area are likely hosting similar events. So the boohooing of talks seems childish given healthy families, the early church and Jesus himself all find them to be powerful opportunities for deepening our understanding.
You dismiss the biblical teaching that a rape victim be required to marry their rapist as a “civil law” that no longer applies. Then you say the civil law serves to “show us something of the holiness of God”.
Please explain how a law requiring a rape victim to marry their rapist shows something of the holiness of God.
Bishop Stanovsky is to be commended for openly replying to Rev. Lambrecht’s article. Would that more bishops made public, civil arguments. However, the bishop, in attempting to defend herself, seems to miss what the critique is about. The critique is about actions by a bishop of the church that violate the standing discipline of the church. Bp. Stanovsky replies by speaking about her personal peace and then critiquing Rev. Lambrecht’s article and ministry. Again, the issue is her actions that violate church discipline — and undermine church unity and trust.
That is still a strawman. Since you seem confused on the issue, a strawman is when you take a point and either change it or its context to make it easier to refute. The problem is it doesn’t deal with my actual point. I did not dismiss anything. That classification system is not mine, and it is at the core of quite a number of issues in the early Church (see Acts 10-11 & 15). You are ignoring context and trying to apply something that was not given prescriptively for all of time.
2, your phrasing here is also a strawman. Much like the Pharisees questioning Christ about the teaching on divorce in Matt. 19 & Mark 10, you are stating this far more strongly than the book ever does. A rape victim is not required to marry their rapist re-read the passage in question. If you really would like to understand how the law reflects the holiness of God, I would recommend a book like “Paradise to Promised Land” by T.D. Alexander.
Yes, pastor Paul — that would be the consensus of almost every response here to her actions. She is obviously in open and intentional DEFIANCE of the very church that she vowed to defend and uphold. She defends her actions by relying on the authority of herself and by attacking, as victim, the one who called her actions out. That is the standard and customary tactic of the secular left in almost all discourse in today’s culture. She, along with her progressive cohorts, have brought this secular tactic into the UMC and planted it rather firmly. It is a tactic devoid of honesty and integrity — the ends Justify the means. This traditional, contextual, and progressive plan our bishops are likely to bring is being build from this sort of SECULAR model instead of a SCRIPTURAL model. This would be a church officially divided against itself with diametrically opposite Biblical interpretations and understandings. Even in this convoluted age, that would be IMPOSSIBLE to put into written or spoken words and articulated to any human on this planet.
Unless General Conference 2019 sees this for what it is and STOPS it, there will be no Wesleyan church or Christian church left in what was once the Methodist Church, and a division will be happen following a mass exodus.
Christopher, I would not say that the “table talks” within the Greater Northwest Area are perceived by the pastors and laity as harmless, when the bishop is initiating the talks, her bias on the subject is a well-known matter of record, the bishop plans to be at as many of the talks as is possible, the leaders for the talks have been selected and trained by the annual conference leadership, and the annual conference has hired an LGBTQ advocate to assist in the training and promotion of the annual conference agenda. This to me points to a stacked deck. Who would want to sit down at such a table?
A Retired…I’m one of those clergy in the PNW. I’ve not heard this concern you’re stating. I do know both clergy and laity who have trained to facilitate the table talks. I know personally that some of these are “on the fence” on this matter. There are 18 talks planned throughout the Greater Northwest Area. Bishop Stanovsky plans to be at 3 of them. You can see that information here>>>http://greaternw.org/table-talks/ The LGBTQ advocate you mention, was not hired particularly for these talks. You muddle these occurrences. Is this deliberate? Please speak more truthfully from now on.
As for your last question, I recall reading somewhere “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Perhaps that can help you find an answer. Consider also Jesus dining with the Pharisees.
The time for indulging the novelty of revisionist dialogues has come to an end. Pack lightly, don’t procrastinate, and remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
Christopher, I stand corrected, in your reply to me of March 27th. I missed the (*) in the announcement next to the words “The Bishop will attend these sessions”. And the “muddling” I guess was intentional. I sincerely apologize for not explaining that. The truth is that over the past several years there have been so many indications that an orthodox approach to our faith is not welcome in at least my annual conference, where Bishop Stanovsky presently serves. I have felt bullied, intimidated, silenced, when I have attempted to speak up in ministerial and conference gatherings. It is all too clear to me that a percentage of the United Methodist Church, within the leadership ranks for certain, wish to change. I get it. I understand it. I have heard, listened, and adjusted my brain to take in the reasoning given to me. My Seminary training was amongst professors and students that could easily have been labeled “flaming liberals”. But the truth for me is that I cannot go that direction, and I do not get the impression that anyone really cares. I cannot accept the current lack of respect given to our denominational rules of governance, the decreased attachment to the historical faith as expressed thru documents such as the Nicene Creed, and the waning reverence for the Word of God as conveyed to us through the Bible. These things constitute the Faith that I pledged obedience to, as a United Methodist Bishop examined my intent, laid hands upon me, and ordained me as an Elder. It is my experience that I will not be heard, were I to attend a “table talk”, because the course is already set. These “talks” are coming several years too late. I will pray for all, but I am tired, and I do not wish to sit down at a table and know that what I say, and feel, in truth makes no difference to those who are holding the helm of the ship. If this makes any sense to you, Christopher, then perhaps you could speak a word about my viewpoint when you attend a future “table talk”. I hope that you will understand, if not now, then perhaps some day. Very sincerely, one of your fellow retired clergy.
I get the feeling that you and I could have our own Table Talk, disagree vehemently and still walk away with at least a handshake. Given the deep polarization in our greater culture, there is still something compelling (to me at least) in a group of people with deep disagreements who still choose to break bread together. That is a great witness that will be lost if we were to split (or splinter).
I do understand people on both sides who have reached a point-of-no-return. I truly mourn for them across the spectrum, including you. I mourn for this church which has taught me everything I know about just about everything. I don’t want to be separated from my home church back in West Virginia. We will not agree on LGBT inclusion for a long time, but they raised me. I came to inclusion utilizing the curious heart and mind they instilled in me. I owe an insurmountable amount to them. I don’t want to be separated from churches I’ve served. They showed me how to love people who were different…because I was the one who was different! Your career probably contains similar experiences. This denomination has allowed me to pastor a black congregation AND a congregation founded by the Klan (yes, THAT Klan)! I’ve been in Reconciling congregations and now I’m trying to lead a church in loving neighbors who are dirt poor, outcast, etc. What an awesome life this church has given to me. I DO NOT want it to split.
I am sorry you feel put out. I don’t know anything about your circumstances. But I do get the pain and the comfort of people who understand you.
I’ll do my best to listen for and ask about people on the ‘other side’ of the Table Talks. I’ll do my best to demand civility and respect in all matters.
grace and peace, Christopher
What’s tragic here is that the course has been set, even as “Retired” has reported. There is no turning back now–neither nostalgically, as Christopher opines, or by legislation that cannot be enforced, or by Judicial Council rulings that are vigorously evaded. Talking might work if disobedience would cease. But that’s exactly what the progressive sect clings to as if it were salvation.
I’m not sure what you mean by “turn the other cheek”. If you mean to continue to be kind to the progressive wing that is tearing apart a church that I love then yes, I could do a better job of “turning the other cheek”. I have had to work at overcoming the sin of anger all my life. If, on the other hand, you mean turning away from the Bible and telling people that some sins are OK as long as they are accepted by society at large, then you fail to understand anything about “God’s loving plan.”
A Retired Pastor – thank you – you have spoken from the heart and eloquently for many of us who are tired clergy (although not yet “re”tired as you are!) in the UMC.
For these very reasons I left the UMC for several years. God drew me back, and I am only willing to continue in the UMC because I believe a needed change is coming. Whether that is Option 1 (doubtful) or an option that causes traditional/orthodox Wesleyans to leave and form a new denomination, none of us knows, but I look forward to what God can do when we have leadership in our church united in faithfulness to scripture and the gospel. May God give us grace and wisdom for these days as we move forward to whatever the future brings.
Back to the issue, the BIBLE and MARRIAGE. Please guide us to Biblical teachings that support same-sex marriage —- beginning with the following:
In his condemnation of frivolous divorce, what did Jesus tell us about God’s created order for marriag based on his INTERPRETATION of Genesis 2:21-24? Did Jesus misinterpret God’s original word? Or, does what Jesus said about marriage open the door to various understandings of marriage?
Did you take the same ordination vows that I did to uphold the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church? If you did, you are in violation of The Discipline. Your diatribe against Good News and anyone who does not in agreement with you is hypocritical and you do a grave injustice to the position you hold.
Shame on you!
I see nothing there about the exclusivity of one man/one woman. Polygamy was common then. You’d think if Jesus was against this he would have said something. A curious omission at best. So YES, various understandings of marriage can be derived from that passage.
Otherwise, I’ve written several times about my views on inclusivity and how I got here. You can see them here: https://deeplyplaid.com/?s=lgbt
Thanks for the questions.
“various understandings of marriage can be derived from that passage”. I must admit, after all these years of reading progressive commentary on this, that takes the number one spot on the most preposterous statements ever made list to with relation to what Jesus said about God’s created order for marriage as recorded in Matthew 19:4-6.
The difference is not so much that we see things differently, it’s that you think my way of seeing things makes me not a Christian, much less a well educated clergy person. It’s that you desire to quit being in communion with me.
With several higher education degrees myself, please don’t play the “well educated” card. My desire is to follow Jesus and be in communion with others, many of which are ikely better followers of Jesus, and learn from them on how to be a better Christian. But, anyone, “well educated” or not, who rejects what Jesus unequivocally said about Christian marriage in his condemnation of divorce causes pause and wonderment at what other teachings of Jesus might be rejected as well. Communion at what cost?
It seems strange that you would claim that “The Discipline does not express the true meaning of God’s love…” Then accuse others of being judgmental. God’s Word is true and eternal.
FWIW, here’s a report on the first Table Talks.
I did play the education card…but not in the way you allege.
To be clearer. do you think I’m a Christian? What is required for you and I to be in Communion together?
I am just a lay person, but ever since I was born again and repented of my sin of unbelief in Jesus, I have believed the Bible to be the true word of God. If my husband and I can stomach the disunity in the Disunited Methodist Church much longer and my church votes on to stay or leave – I would challenge that if we can no longer believe the God of the Bible- what is the point of calling ourselves Christian?