Adopted by the board on July 18, 2016
The following statement was adopted by the Good News board following the recent election of a married lesbian as bishop and the actions of nine annual conferences refusing to conform to the Book of Discipline.
The United Methodist Church faces a constitutional crisis. Nine annual conferences and two jurisdictional conferences have pledged non-conformity to our church order and polity. This rebellion has now culminated in the election of a married lesbian clergyperson as bishop, contrary to the requirements of our Book of Discipline. These schismatic actions have ruptured the unity of the denomination. Without swift and decisive action by the Council of Bishops and other leaders, it may be impossible to restore that unity. This rebellious behavior ignores the adoption of legislation at General Conference in May 2016 that called for a pause in all “legislative solutions” regarding the church’s historic position on human sexuality to make space for a special commission appointed by our bishops to consider the future of the church.
Accordingly, we urge that:
- The Council of Bishops issue a statement rejecting Karen Oliveto’s election as bishop and asking her to resign the office for the sake of the unity of the church;
- The Council of Bishops act swiftly to form the special commission approved by General Conference, with fair representation of the church theologically and geographically;
- That the Bishops’ Commission complete its work within 18 months on two options:
- A plan that will resolve our differences over the church’s teachings on marriage and human sexuality that can garner the support of at least two-thirds of the General Conference delegates, thus preserving the unity of the church
- A plan for the fair and equitable separation of the church that will allow progressives and traditionalists to be faithful to the grace and truth of God as they understand them
- That the Council of Bishops call a special session of the General Conference to be held by October 31, 2018, to consider these proposals;
- That individual bishops and annual conferences cease any discrimination against or penalizing of clergy who espouse and defend the current and historic position of the church on marriage and human sexuality;
- That evangelical and traditionalist United Methodists come together through the newly formed Wesleyan Covenant Association as a way of speaking with one voice and acting together to promote orthodox Wesleyan scriptural Christianity in response to whatever recommendations come from the Bishops’ Commission.
We strongly believe that those individuals, annual conferences, and jurisdictions that are acting contrary to our church order and discipline are promoting and causing separation in the body. Whatever our points of disagreement, it is these defiant actions that are bringing about division and separation, not the disagreements themselves.
Years of increasingly wayward actions have caused deep anguish and pain among orthodox and traditionalist United Methodists. These actions have caused thousands of our members to leave the UM Church for non-denominational bodies, precipitated the departure or early retirement of effective clergy, and prevented the calling of new young clergy who see no future in a denomination that is plagued by constant fighting and a disintegrating connectional polity. We have been forced to try to explain to potential members why the actions of a minority do not represent the teachings of the church and yet are permitted almost without consequence. Plummeting morale among clergy and lay leaders alike and the accelerating decline of our church membership and attendance have created in some parts of our connection a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
Faced with this crisis, many of our laity and even some clergy and entire congregations are reconsidering their membership and participation within The United Methodist Church. Some congregations and many laity will no longer find it possible to financially support a church that has intentionally violated Scripture and our covenant, with potentially devastating impact on the global church, annual conference ministry, and even local church ministry. We have heard from those who plan to redirect or delay their apportionments to no longer support the Episcopal Fund, out of which bishops’ salaries and expenses are paid. Others plan to redirect or delay most or all general church apportionments, and some in affected annual conferences are redirecting or delaying annual conference apportionments as well. We have also heard from laity who plan to stop supporting their local church financially until such time as they can be assured that their tithes and offerings are not going to a disobedient denomination.
We plead with the Council of Bishops to act swiftly and decisively to quell this growing crisis. We appeal to all United Methodists to pray earnestly that God will open the way for a return to connectional faithfulness and a renewed commitment to scriptural holiness in the personal and social dimensions. We commit ourselves to stand strongly on the foundation of God’s holy word and to work with like-minded brothers and sisters in the United States and in the global church to lead the way to a faithful future.
Rev. Keith Boyette, board chair (540/538-3202)
Rev. Rob Renfroe, president and publisher (281/507-9153)
I think it is time for the bishops to take action against those who refuse to honor the rules of the General Conference. We are losing members like water going thru a seilve. I don’t know how long I can stay a member. Robert Hawkins
Only 100 years off my family’s Methodist membership and faithful adherence to Methodist Doctrines is keeping me a member of the UMC. I will wait and see what happens in the next two years before I make a decision on transferring my membership somewhere else.
I like and approve of this approach. We must do something quickly!
Dear Rev. Rob Renfroe and Good News Board,
Thank you so very, very much for boldly speaking out, eloquently and gracefully articulating the problem that we are facing in our denomination. Also, your sound advice and recommendations as to how to address these critical issues is inspirational and lends hope to us clergy and laity alike who have poured their lives out for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and for the United Methodist Church.
May God continue to grant to you wisdom , revelation and the power of the Holy Spirit as you provide leadership for the faithful.
Rev. Richard G. Lindamood , West End UMC , Wytheville, Va.
I agree with this statement but wish the wheel of change would roll quicker than the dates mentioned within. This should have been resolved summer 2016 rather than prolonging the situation before more damage is done to the UMC!!! Those who are openly disobeying the discipline should leave UMC and start their own changed discipline association with a different name. The Board of Bishops should be spending their time now figuring out how to give back the new group a portion of their church buildings.
It’s just too scary for many who have donated land and funds to a particular UMC body to face the loss of their church building to a group of members who think they can change God’s Word, the Bible, that has survived for so many years!!! It is true we are to love all people but God says in His Word that the leaders will be held to a higher standard as they should be more aware of His Word. It’s not the time for indecision. These are difficult times and we need more Godly unity not more worldly confusion! Our church should be a safe place of peace especially in these times!
The problem with the resolutions, seems to be more concern with the unity of the UMC than submitting to the Word of God (Prob 17:15). Also, since the Scriptures name same sex relationships as abominations, Lev 18:22, asking for a resignation of a position that is held in clear conflict with Scripture, appears ineffective. I pray for and encourage all to stand on the Word of God and look at this from God’s perspective as well as an eternal perspective.
If this is not handled swiftly and decisively by the church I fear it will cause many like myself to leave the Methodist faith. We are now starting to see the results of not acting upon the 111 Methodist Ministers that came out before the annual conference this year. To date as far as I know no action has been taken against this group. Further more there are several hundred existing ministers that support the inclusion of practicing homosexuals who are becoming more outspoken every day. You are right to call on the leadership to take action because at this point their inaction leads me to believe that they are going to let this happen. Looking at society as a whole in my heart I knew that this division would only be a matter of time, but the existing leadership has not dealt with this for many years so here we are. I pray for some action, any action, so that I can make my decision on which faith community I will support. Thanks for all that you do at The Good News. Your faithful support of the the scriptures encourage me.
I ask then if Good News is pro the trial of Rev. Cynthia Meyer going forward? If we are to truly embrace the commission and leadership of the bishops should it not be a halt on all fronts and not simply only on those items you support? I agree that we cannot let our church be torn apart, but if you call loudly for unity while continuing prosecution at the same time then you’re equally guilty of what you claim to not want. Is not the forming of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and your point 6 of responding to whatever the bishops and commission decides not promoting division? If the commission were to decide in a manner displeasing to the WCA’s views would the WCA act in a similar manner as the Western Jurisdiction and other AC’s are now doing?
I hear your cries for unity, but I wonder if Good News mean unity only on your terms? Do you seek unity or uniformity?
Well this certainly has the progressives on the UM Reporter website upset.
So with the letter now out from the CoB executive committee, apparently they view the creation of the WCA in the same token as non compliance of Annual/ Jurisdictional conferences and the election of Bishop Oliveto? I guess in their view following the Book of Discipline is just as schismatic as outright rebellion against it.? “Unity, Unity, Unity” they cry… but what can we even be united about? All they do is Say nothing. Do nothing … just cry out ‘unity’ over and over again.
“O Lord, I pray you would break our hearts of rebellion towards you. And revive your church once again, Reign Lord Jesus and come Holy Spirit, we need you”
Will we turn and heed God’s Word or will we follow our own ways?
Your proposal is very positive and I feel that it needs to be given concerned thought and implementation.
The suggestion that the Wesleyan Covenant Assoc. be part of the negotiating process needs more clarification. Will they be acting as a “mediator’ or “Union Boss” and how do they not disenfranchise some of our Churches, Regions, etc. as they seem to be independently organized. Would they do this free of charge and if not how would they get paid? Also it appears by your suggested inclusion of this entity, you are saying our current polity is incapable of responsible pursuing a just end or lacking the accountability to engage in such a task. .
I do think that the most urgent aspect to resolving the issue before us, is to act prudently and quickly.
I do not see what is described as happening – it is nice, but unless the Bishop is removed nothing will happen. My wife and I have decided that while we love our church and our members that we need to leave the UMC. The church I attend has been on the sidelines and would truly be split over any decision to pick a side. So my plan is to withdraw our membership from the UMC if the Bishop has not been removed by the end of the year. We will relinquish our Conference positions – and our church committee leadership roles. At the same time we will reduce our giving by 25% the first year and then 50% in the second year as we do a full transition out.
This is a matter of principal but it feels like betrayal, because as Lay Leader, Chair of Outreach, and teaching Sunday School we are involved deeply in our church. We have worked side by side on many projects through the ups and downs of the church that have been caused by Pastors being promoted to District Supervisors after short stays. It bothers me, because the future is ruins for the UMC. People will leave and they will be stuck with a bunch of empty churches and a lot pensions and benefits that they cannot pay. This is all very sad. I will pray about this and maybe a miracle will happen. FYI – we are not going to make a big stink about it in our church.
I am amazed that the church has given the Bishops authority to solve this problem. Let’s face it. THEY ARE THE PROBLEM! I am a member in the North Texas Conference and the letter the bishop sent out is openly supporting gay lifestyles in the church. I also believe that they are asking ministers to preach compromise in the church. It is happening in my church. I believe giving the bishops until 2018 is just sliding into more acceptance of what is going on. The movement to change this is going to have to come from local church members and move upward instead of down from the bishops. I believe if the bishops send us pastors who support gay lifestyles we are going to have to withhold our apportionment’s and possibly our tithes. I believe it will have to be an organized effort.
“if you call loudly for unity while continuing prosecution at the same time then you’re equally guilty of what you claim to not want. Is not the forming of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and your point 6 of responding to whatever the bishops and commission decides not promoting division?”
Andrew, may I point out that the disunity comes from a splinter group who hold that same sex unions are blessed by God, and these individuals have been attempting to hijack the United Methodist
Church since 1972. If the UMC is too restrictive for them, why not start their own denomination, and leave the UNITED-Methodist Church alone? Upholding the Discipline is simply a way of restoring the broken-ness, and the WCA is a call for return to our Wesleyan roots – a cry for renewal and repentance.
As a retired Elder, I have been in active ministry as a Pastor for over 41 years. About Bishops
and Clergy being openly gay and holding leadership positions is morally and spiritual wrong. I love everybody whether they are gay or straight. I do not love the sinful acts of anyone. God made Adam
and Eve, not Adam and Steve. He want us to be fruitful and multiply. Satan is just the opposite. He wants
no fruitfulness, and no multiplication of the human race. Man with man no birth of children. Woman with woman no birth of children. Do you get the picture.
I am not condemning gay people. God wants all of us to come to him by way of repentance. Whatever we do, do it God’s way, and stay out of his way. Will I leave the United Methodist Church because of Bishops, Elders, Deacons, and Local Pastors violating the Discipline? Probably not. We violate the Supreme Discipline every day. by disobeying God’s Word, the Bible.
I don’t want to get too preachy. Whatever I say someone will disagree with me, but right is right, and wrong is wrong. All of us will be judged by God. What would Jesus say about homosexuality? What would Jesus say about heterosexuality? We shouldn’t be caught up upon what Jesus says, more importantly we should be caught up on being faithful to the Lord every day
Rev. Dr. Theodore D. Whitely, Sr.