Archive: One Local Church Responds to Atlanta

After studying various reports of the Atlanta General Conference, the Administrative Board and Pastor of Long Memorial United Methodist Church, Neffsville, Pa. send the following letter to their district superintendent and bishop:

Out of deep concern about news reports, actual happenings and some legislative actions connected with the General Conference of the United Methodist Church when it met in Atlanta, Georgia from April 16 to 28, 1972, we, as a congregation, feel compelled to express our reaction and stand. We are an evangelical church centering our faith and actions in Jesus Christ. We emphasize the historic evangelical doctrines and disciplines as included in The Articles of Religion and Genera/ Rules of The Methodist Church and the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and cannot relegate these to the role of “landmarks.” Basic beliefs are spiritual foundations which cannot be legislated. Many of us chose our denomination because of its evangelical doctrines and practices, and we have no reason to change, nor do we desire to be legislated to accept the new formulation of basic beliefs “set within a framework of Scripture, Christian Tradition, Experience and Reason” whenever this framework would conflict with or legislate change of our “landmark” beliefs. We believe that “random pluralism” free of evangelical restrictive standards opens the door for perversions of the Gospel and a watered-down Christianity that compromises its redemptive purpose and witness. As an indictment of this “new pluralism” and its excesses, we cite the actions of Cecil Williams and his group and deplore his inclusion in any part of the General Conference program as not compatible with our general witness and historic “landmarks.”

We also protest the treatment given to the over 16,000 petitions covering special concerns of evangelicals. We feel it was unjust to assign to these the status of just fourteen petitions when they represented thousands of entire congregations totaling hundreds of thousands of United Methodists attempting to speak with a united voice on these specifically selected matters. Their right to be granted the fair weight of their petitions was denied them. We, along with many other congregations associated with the “Good News” movement, purposely sent in these similar petitions as a united evangelical voice and now wonder what else can be done to get a fair hearing for evangelical Christianity?

Without going into details we also wish to make known our stand on several other matters wherein we have differing convictions from actions taken by the General Conference. We are not in favor of continuing in the Consultation On Church Union (COCU) nor in the World Council of Churches. We agree with the motion that was made but not adopted condemning International Communism as the aggressor in Vietnam, China and elsewhere, and cannot accept the one adopted which just lays the blame on our country. This lack of overtly indicting International Communism, while directly shifting the blame to America, is a gross miscarriage of justice and of the truth. We prefer to emphasize the New Testament’s rigid stand against homosexuality and offer the power of Jesus Christ to change such lives and cleanse from all sin, rather than the weaker rendition of “Not condone the practice” or “consider this practice incompatible with Christian doctrine.”

We mention the above matters not forgetting the many commendable actions of the General Conference, but to voice our concern on issues that for one reason or another have become focal in the minds and hearts of many United Methodists to the point of needing some reply, the lack of which would possibly lead to compounded resentments as well as division.

We realize that the General Conference is the legislative body of our church, but view with alarm the increasing tendency to maneuver its legislation by growing power blocks or caucuses financed and organized to direct issues to their individual and collective ends. What should the evangelical do under such circumstances- strive to become a power block organized and financed to “combat” liberalizing and other tendencies? God forbid! When conscience and heart cannot concur, and when there is a feeling of being discriminated against, how can our unity be voiced effectively without trafficking in political caucusing? Perhaps one way is through letters like this of concerned United Methodist congregations who want to remain ,in our denomination but who feel the frustrations of silence are not good for the soul. We will continue to promote “Scriptural Christianity within the United Methodist Church” while at the s,1me time taking a stand whenever that is necessary, whether this means voicing our disavowal of, and non-concurrence with, certain General Conference programming and actions, or nonsupport of programs and actions of our Annual Conference which we are not able to bear in conscience or in heart.

The clear unequivocal answer given by John Wesley to meet the spiritual and social ills of his day was, “I gave them Christ. ” This we believe is our answer too.

Respectually yours,
for the Administrative Board and congregation


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List!

Click here to sign up to our email lists:

•Perspective Newsletter (weekly)
• Transforming Congregations Newsletter (monthly)
• Renew Newsletter (monthly)

Make a Gift

Global Methodist Church

Is God Calling You For More?


Latest Articles: