November-December 2012

Bishop challenges the West

By Rob Renfroe
A rather remarkable event occurred this past month. A bishop spoke out against the wrong-headed, schismatic actions of the Western Jurisdiction (WJ). Bishop Mike Coyner of Indiana publicly critiqued a statement adopted by the Western Jurisdiction which declared that the official UM position regarding the practice of homosexuality is in error. The same WJ statement also urged clergy and congregations to disregard the part of the Book of Discipline that affirms sexual relations only within heterosexual marriage and declares the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching.

Fussin’ Over You

By B.J. Funk
Is there someone worth fussin’ over in your life? Does your daughter’s outward appearance turn you against her inner possibilities? Have you given up on your brother whose lifestyle is far from what your mother had in mind? What about that child in your classroom? No one else sees anything good in him. Why should you?

Unplugged and tuned in

By Frank Decker
When was the last time that you stepped off the treadmill of a busy ministry, a jam-packed work schedule, a congested calendar simply to be alone? For me, it had been way too long. So, I spent an extended period of time this summer simply being quiet and listening. I spent weeks in solitude on the porch of a little cottage that my grandfather built in 1941 overlooking the South River near Annapolis.

Thomas A. Lambrecht responds to BMCR statement

By Thomas A. Lambrecht
Let’s be very clear that every one of the signers to the open letter is fully supportive of civil rights and racial equality. We wholeheartedly endorse Martin Luther King’s vision that people should be judged by their character and not the color of their skin. However, our stance on the practice of homosexuality is not a civil rights issue. We are addressing a behavior that is incompatible with Christian teaching. Additionally, United Methodism has repeatedly affirmed the biblical teaching that God’s design for marriage is only between one man and one woman.

BMCR stands with Bishop Melvin Talbert

By Heather Hahn
The United Methodist Church’s African-American caucus announced September 5 that it stands with retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, who has been accused by more than 70 United Methodist clergy and lay people of urging defiance against the denomination’s stance on homosexuality.

Congo has come to cry

By Linda Bloom
A United Methodist bishop from the Democratic Republic of Congo has made a heartfelt plea to the U.S. Congress to end the rapes and killings inflicted on his fellow Congolese. Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the denomination’s North Katanga Area was one of three witnesses who spoke during a Sept. 19 hearing of the Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Review of “How God Became King”

By Stephen Rankin
Reading Wright thus makes me think of my United Methodist family. At the risk of too much generalizing, I still think we operate from within the divided history of the Social Gospel movement (which tended to downplay one set of Christological claims in order to focus on the ethics of the Kingdom) and a revivalist, holiness Methodism (my “tribe”) with a “high” Christology focused on individual salvation and personal holiness. Lots of us don’t like this division and wish we could leave it behind,

Bishop faults Western Jurisdiction for Gay Rights Stand

By Heather Hahn
Indiana Area Bishop Michael J. Coyner on October 15 published his criticisms of the Western Jurisdiction’s stand against The United Methodist Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Delegates to the Western Jurisdiction’s meeting July 18-21 adopted a “Statement of Gospel Obedience” that says the denomination is in error in its stance that the practice of homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The jurisdiction’s statement also urged United Methodists to operate as if that stance in Paragraph 161F of the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, “does not exist, creating a church where all people are truly welcome.”

Will Our Church Go Over the Cliff?

By Thomas A. Lambrecht
Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr. coined the term “death tsunami” to describe this “cliff” facing our church. Because the average age of our members is rising rapidly (due to our failure to attract and hold younger people into the church), a significant percentage of our membership will be lost through death in the coming twenty years. This loss will in turn dramatically shrink our denominational membership, lead to the closing of numerous local congregations, and sharply reduce the money that is available for ministry and mission at the local, annual conference, and global levels.

Contagious Generosity

By Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard
Generosity is at its core a lifestyle, one in which we share all that we have, are, or will ever become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace. It is not enough for the church to talk about generosity, nor is it enough for individual Christians to simply commit to being generous.