A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

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A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Sandy » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:04 pm

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ed/583693/

I suspect this is the beginning of the discussion, not the end. But it appears that for now, the UMC has adopted a traditional, conservative theological perspective on LGBT issues. So the question now is whether or not a deeply connectional body can stay together and what will happen if local congregations head for the exit. Most of my understanding of how Methodists operate comes from Timothy on this board. I have, in the Christian schools I've served, encountered Methodists who sent their kids to our school, including a few pastors, and among those individuals I would say that there is a diversity of belief that is as broad as that of Baptists, including some charismatic/Pentecostal leanings, a few hardline fundamentalists and here in Chicago, some members of an AME congregation.

I don't wish any problems on any church, ministry is hard enough. This has become a sharply divisive issue, though, it seems more so than just about anything else in recent church history.

Timothy, my prayers are with you and your congregation.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:11 pm

I can't say I am surprised. Sorry it went the way it did, but barring an unusual compromise this was my expectation. The UMC has a lot of Russian and African members, and they tend to be very unrepentantly homophobic, looks like to me.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:41 am

I agree with putting this in the Politics and Public Policy Forum since it is more born from a few churchly-politically-selected biblical texts and than heartfelt religious ones, imo.

I disagree about this being a “surprise”. It has been discussed in my family for over a two years.

My son Todd and his wife Christy (both UMC ministers) have long said they will leave the denomination instead of refusing to marry a same-sex couple. It would mean giving up guaranteed lifetime jobs, their parsonage, and perhaps their 401K program (certainly not saved money, I hope). Also on June 1, Christy is set to have her ordination changed from Free Methodist to the UMC (or will it become know as the Divided MC?). This may end that.

Here is Todd’s “epistle” to his church about the situation - a blue collar church that is mostly conservative religiously and Trump favoring. He finished it I believe in the wee hours of this morning Feb 27 (I had called him about 6pm yesterday and he was mulling over what he was going to say to his congregation) and published it this morning. Pretty quick writer and a better writer than his dad.

Pastoral Letter to Epworth UMC. A couple of paragraphs:

It is far too early to tell what the implications of all of this will be. Churches, institutions, clergy, lay persons, bishops and ministry partners from across the theological spectrum that were once part of the United Methodist Church may now choose to disaffiliate themselves from our church. New forms of Methodism may emerge. This may have been the case regardless of what General Conference passed or did not pass. I cannot predict how all of this will transpire, except to say that future Methodist history books will have long chapters devoted to this season of our collective lives. At this point, I am also unsure where my own path will take me in this season. But please know that it is my sincere hope that it is to remain as your pastor for the foreseeable future.


At our “Epworth Family Meeting” last fall, the vast majority of you indicated that you would like the opportunity to gather again after General Conference to discuss what happened at General Conference and its implications for our church. I’ve had the opportunity to share with you my heart as it relates to all of this and I want to extend to each of you the opportunity to do the same at a follow-up “Epworth Family Meeting.” I propose that we do this on March 10th at 3pm in the Fellowship Hall. I hope you will join me.


He received no adverse reaction from that meeting (last fall) where he told of his views. Many (10’s of people) in church have told us how much they really liked Todd even though as one good Emmaus friend said he recognized a “liberal strand in his politics". It will be interesting to see if this changes after this March 10 Meeting and the implications of this Conference become more apparent. Reminds me of my own church's fissure about 2 years ago now - not a peep about the Pastor expressing his opinion on the matter until it became public (then the local Baptist Association exerts their muscle and 15 families left in a huff and puff). Hoping that Epworth will be better than that.

See also embedded in his letter this discussion from Adam Hamilton (pastor of one of the largest UMC churches and a prolific writer):
THE BIBLE SAYS IT … THAT SETTLES IT. These paragraphs from Hamilton capture my biblical hermeneutics/application view of his issue:

It is for these reasons that the biblical authors at times wrote things that today we rightly reject. We no longer believe it is permissible for one nation to kill every man, woman, and child of another nation; we call this genocide and consider it a war crime, though Israel was commanded to do this more than thirty times. We no longer beat our children with rods and if we observed this we would report the parent for child abuse, even though Proverbs repeatedly commends the practice. We no longer practice polygamy nor have concubines, though many of the Bible’s authors and heroes practiced polygamy and had concubines. We don’t believe that rebellious children should be put to death, nor that work on the Sabbath be a capital crime. We don’t believe women should keep silent in the church, nor do we require them to pray with their heads covered. And though the Bible introduced important regulations regarding slavery, it permitted slavery, including the beating of slaves, seeing the slave as the property of the master. And while the New Testament authors could have forbidden slave-holding among Christians, saving slaves centuries of human misery, they seem not to have imagined a world without slavery.


The Bible does not work according to the, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” formula. Instead, we must read its words in the light of their historical context, try to understand why the authors wrote what they wrote, and read its less humane verses (calls for vengeance, for example) in the light of its loftier verses (calls for love, mercy, and compassion). Most importantly as Christians, we are to read all of Scripture through the lens of Jesus Christ, his life, teachings, ministry, death, and resurrection. He is the only unmitigated Word of God.


Which brings us to the question we’re debating this weekend at General Conference. As I see it, we’re ultimately asking if the five passages in the Bible that prohibit some form of same-sex acts express God’s heart and perspective on gay and lesbian people who desire to share their lives together in marriage, or rather, if they express the perspectives and reactions of ancient Israel and first century Paul? Are these passages among the less humane biblical passages, or the loftier? To put it as clearly as possible, drawing upon Romans and Leviticus, does God look at gay and lesbian people, and their desire for relationship, as degraded, unnatural, shameful, an abomination and, according to Leviticus 20:13, cause for them to be put to death?


I love the Bible, and I read it, study it, pray it, and seek to live it. And just as I don’t believe that genocide, slavery, beating children with rods, and forcing women to remain silent in the church reflect God’s heart and character, neither do I believe that God sees the gay and lesbian people who attend the church I pastor, many of whom are married and raising children, who serve in ministry, seek to love God and to love their neighbor and reflect the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, as degraded, shameful, abominations, and certainly not worthy of death. The Bible says it, but I don’t believe that settles it
.

We will see what actually happens to Todd and family. Todd says he is amidst discussions on “several fronts” about their future.
Last edited by KeithE on Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby William Thornton » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:58 am

Nothing personal in this fight. Odd outcome. it's also strange that the UMC somehow has an atheist minister. Looks like,it's tough to get defrocked, sort of like baptists.

Keith certainly knows that a baptist association may choose with whom they associate.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Sandy » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:39 pm

I would venture to guess that a lot of Methodist churches and pastors will be having discussions in the coming days and weeks about this General Conference and what they will do in response. It seems, at least from what Timothy has said, that the UMC is inclined to accept the decisions made by the General Conference as agreements about God's will for his church. Now that a decision has been made that represents a more conservative perspective, will those on the left still be as insistent on accepting the decision of the General Conference?
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:23 pm

Image

There are lots of Methodist ministers. I would expect an occasional atheist.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Dave Roberts » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:08 pm

Reading reports from, analysis of, and responses to the UMC vote this week, my heart goes out to my UMC friends. There are no winners in this situation, regardless of the theological correctness or incorrectness of any of the positions. Christ is the ultimate loser.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:55 pm

William Thornton wrote:Nothing personal in this fight. Odd outcome. it's also strange that the UMC somehow has an atheist minister. Looks like, it's tough to get defrocked, sort of like baptists.


I have read all of the above posts including the links and find no mention of any “atheist minister” in the UMC or elsewhere. What are you referring to, William? or implying?

William Thornton wrote:Keith certainly knows that a baptist association may choose with whom they associate.


I know that. But it does not mean I approve of this disassociation in light of all these verses in the Bible calling for church unity.

11 Top Unity Bible Verses - Scriptures About Being United

Those must be part of all those verses ignored by cons. Inerrantists must incorporate all the verses (somehow) and apply to their lives. Non-inerrantists are free to rely on the Spirit that has the capability to guide us into all the truth. John 16:12-13
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby William Thornton » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:29 pm

The atheist minister is not UMC, so they have that going for them
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Sandy » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:13 am

from Adam Hamilton's Statement wrote: Which brings us to the question we’re debating this weekend at General Conference. As I see it, we’re ultimately asking if the five passages in the Bible that prohibit some form of same-sex acts express God’s heart and perspective on gay and lesbian people who desire to share their lives together in marriage, or rather, if they express the perspectives and reactions of ancient Israel and first century Paul?


The Methodist Book of Discipline wrote: ...The Bible bears authentic testimony to God’s self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God’s work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing activity in human history
As we open our minds and hearts to the Word of God through the words of human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit, faith is born and nourished, our understanding is deepened, and the possibilities for transforming the world become apparent to us.
The Bible is sacred canon for Christian people, formally acknowledged as such by historic ecumenical councils of the church. Our doctrinal standards identify as canonical thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
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)...


I thought perhaps the specific statement in the Book of Discipline regarding the scripture might give some insight into how the church looks at scripture, and whether an interpretation like that of Adam Hamilton is consistent with what the church has already stated. It doesn't have the terminology in it which affirms belief in "inerrancy" though terms like "sacred canon, formally acknowledged as such by historic ecumenical councils of the church" and "affirm the Bible as the source of all that is necessary and sufficient unto salvation and the "true rule and guide for faith and practice" seem to preclude an interpretation that considers some passages in the scripture as being more the opinion of ancient Israel or first century Paul and less a spiritually inspired concept.

Local congregations are held together by bonds that transcend denominational loyalty. Among Southern Baptists during the controversy over "inerrancy," few people departed churches because of the side they took and there were plenty of denominational employees who, when faced with the choice between local church affiliation and being able to work for an SBC entity, chose their local church. The Methodists seem better prepared to handle this controversy because they have been talking about it and continue to talk about it and pastors, church and denominational leaders don't seem to fear losing their position because they might hold a view different than some powerful, self-appointed kingmaker or good-ole-boy network.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:32 am

William Thornton wrote:The atheist minister is not UMC, so they have that going for them


OK, but who were you referring to? Where in the posts above yours was this supposed “atheist minister” even mentioned? I’m asking again.

And what was it within you that led you to say?:
it's also strange that the UMC somehow has an atheist minister.


Was it a mistake? I see it as unfounded sarcasm (aimed at your foil “mod/libs”) like what is often found on Fox News in the politico world.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Rvaughn » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:09 am

Perhaps William mistook the United Methodist Church for the United Church of Canada, which has a professedly atheist minister.
Can an atheist be a United Church minister?
Atheist United Church of Canada ‘Minister’ to Keep Job After Agreement Reached Before Trial
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:38 am

Rvaughn wrote:Perhaps William mistook the United Methodist Church for the United Church of Canada, which has a professedly atheist minister.
Can an atheist be a United Church minister?
Atheist United Church of Canada ‘Minister’ to Keep Job After Agreement Reached Before Trial

Perhaps, but it is more likely a jab at the UMC.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:47 am

Here is a good article.

Methodists: Don’t let the door hit you on my way out

Besides the poignant personal note in this article the forwardly facts are detailed.

The vote by delegates from across the U.S. and the world now requires United Methodists to “certify adherence” to the position. Those churches that refuse will be stripped of the United Methodist name, barred from using the logo and asked to leave
.
Probably taking the building.

It also sets up a procedure to punish and remove clergy who participate in same-sex weddings. First-time offenders -- though they are not the offensive ones -- face an unpaid, year-long suspension. A second strike and they are out.


Where’s the love? Where’s the "Open Minds”.

Unless something changes quick, my son says he is leaving and his wife will probably not go through the ordination process any further (3 1/2 years for nothing).
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:15 pm

KeithE wrote:Probably taking the building.

I've been wondering about that. Since the UMC is very intentionally NOT congregational in polity, and very much desires (or desired) to be one church, like a smaller and less Italian RCC, and since Bishops are much less theoretically powerful than in the RCC... where exactly does the ownership of church property in the UMC actually lie? Is it all owned by an international conglomerate largely directed by African and Russian cultural sensibilities (though with headquarters in liberal Nashville)? And to what extent do UMC congregations actually exist as legal entities? If fifteen members of a 300-member local church are eager to sign the new covenant, and the other 285 are facing disfellowshipping and (if ordained) defrocking, do those 15 remain as the same congregation, or does the congregation leave the 15 to form a new congregation in the same, suddenly overly huge building?

KeithE wrote:Unless something changes quick, my son says he is leaving and his wife will probably not go through the ordination process any further (3 1/2 years for nothing).

My guess is that there will be a new USMC (not the Marines, but the United States Methodist Church) that will be happy to honor her work thus far.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:17 pm

Where do the UK Methodists stand in all this. My impression is that they have never been integrated into the UMC. But I could be wrong. My impression is based on hymnology, not ecclesiology.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:44 pm

Sorry to be slow to jump in here. I've been so busy fielding questions about General Conference from Methodists I'd not thought to think to look here for a discussion. I've posted a couple of articles on my blog at timbonney.com. But I'll repost the letter I sent my congregation the night all the decisions were final. I'll be happy to answer questions I can answer with an understanding that there are several unknowns including the possibility that some or all of the plan passed may be declared unconstitutional in April. If so we are back to 2016 Discipline square 1.

There was much hope that the One Church plan (a compromise plan) might pass by a hair. But it just didn't happen. It was basically a 55/45 vote for the Traditional plan with 67% of the US delegates actually supporting the "One Church Plan." As has been said above we are held back by 40% of the delegates being from outside the US, many from very conservative countries. They largely supported the traditionalist plan.

Here is my letter to my church.

Tim Bonney wrote:Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

By now you are hearing that the work of the General Conference in St. Louis did not go as many of us had hoped and prayed it would go. The One Church Plan failed to pass and we will be left without a General Conference adopted way forward. It was our desire to be welcoming to all people in the UMC and make room for all our diverse theological understandings.

While some members of First Church did not want the policies of the UMC to change, many of us, myself included, hoped that the UMC would vote for a more open inclusive Church which would recognize the gifts and graces of LGBTQ+ people in our midst, provide full access to the ministries of the Church and full inclusion. Now that that the UMC will not vote to move forward at this time, what shall we do and say as the people of God at Indianola First UMC?

First, let me assure you that our entire church staff are unanimous in affirming our love and acceptance of each and every one of you including our LGBTQ+ members and their families. I as your Lead Pastor pledge to fully support every member of this congregation in every way I possibly can and to continue to stand up for and advocate for LGBTQ+ people who are being treated unjustly by the UMC. We love you. We will stand with you!

Second, I believe Indianola First must find ways to declare our love for everyone in our community be they progressive, conservative, LGBTQ+, whomever and let it be known that we love and accept all people no matter what others in the UMC may say.

This church has its own voice and in this time of struggle for justice and sharing God’s loving grace with all, your voice must be heard!

On Sunday March 10th following worship at 12:15p I will hold an informational meeting for anyone who wants to know more about the decisions of the General Conference. We will share, we will grieve, will pray and we will discuss how we continue to be the church in Indianola whom God has called to love and care for all. And all means all!

In the name of God who is love,

Tim Bonney, Lead Pastor
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Sandy » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:07 pm

I pray that God blesses you and your congregation with wisdom, as I will be praying for Epworth in Huntsville and Keith's son.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:36 pm

Sandy wrote:I pray that God blesses you and your congregation with wisdom, as I will be praying for Epworth in Huntsville and Keith's son.


Thanks Sandy. These are hard times in the UMC.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:49 am

Timothy, do you have a feel for what portion of the 67% of US voters who backed the One Church plan feel so strongly about the injustice of the Traditional plan that they will want to form a new Church where all are welcome, potentially ordinable, and marriageable? (Assuming the Traditional plan is *not* held unconstitutional.)

And what's the answer to my question about real property and congregational nature.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby KeithE » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:00 am

Sandy wrote:I pray that God blesses you and your congregation with wisdom, as I will be praying for Epworth in Huntsville and Keith's son.

Thanks Sandy
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:56 am

Haruo wrote:Timothy, do you have a feel for what portion of the 67% of US voters who backed the One Church plan feel so strongly about the injustice of the Traditional plan that they will want to form a new Church where all are welcome, potentially ordinable, and marriageable? (Assuming the Traditional plan is *not* held unconstitutional.)

And what's the answer to my question about real property and congregational nature.


I don't think all 67% would be willing to leave. But there are already rumblings that both groups on the progressive side and on the conservative side are considering leaving. Crazily, the WCA (Wesley Covenant Association) that is the conservative group spearheading the "traditional plan" are still considering leaving because they didn't get all they wanted. They wanted to enact harsher penalties for dissenters and those penalties look like they likely to be ruled unconstitutional by our Judicial Council. (Think Supreme Court).

I do think a split is quite likely. But if the conservatives pull out first the progressives probably won't because we'd have a shot at reversing this week's decisions. If the WCA stays and things get more punitive towards progressives then the progressives will likely pull out, probably under the leadership of the Western Jurisdiction. But also many conferences in the North Central and North East could pull out as well. We could end up with another North/South split were the two southern jurisdictions stay together along with our overseas conservative conferences and the northern and western Methodists form a new denomination. But all this is very up in the air right now.

As to property, each churches property is under a "trust clause" and the property is actually owned by the Annual Conference that the church is in. Normally if a group of church members leave they just have to leave the property and walk away. But, there were attempts to pass legislation at General Conference to allow a church to buy its way out. I'm not sure if that will be upheld or not either.

If an entire conference leaves the UMC well then local churches will not have a property issue unless they disagree with their conference's choice and want to pull out of the conference.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Haruo » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:00 pm

I think the progressive wing might do well to beg the UK Methodists for admission. Okay, not beg, but petition.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:47 pm

Haruo wrote:I think the progressive wing might do well to beg the UK Methodists for admission. Okay, not beg, but petition.


The UK Methodist Church isn't in good shape. They are considering re-merging into the Church of England. They also have some weird differences from the UMC and UMC progressives that would make for an odd fit.

If it turns out we can't have a place in the UMC for progressives our best bet may be a new denomination. But it is way too early to know that.
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Re: A Surprise in the United Methodist Church?

Postby William Thornton » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:09 am

This is interesting. The liberal One Church, lgbtq friendly UMC is non-Southern Americans. These would jettison their African UMC colleagues if that is necessary to have one United church that is lgbtq friendly?

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