The Day I Was Most Ashamed to be a United Methodist



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We Need to Temper Our Shock

LIke Rev. Ray, I can write an essay on things that make me proud that I am a United Methodist. I could bore you for hours with things that embarrass me about being a United Methodist.

However, I am egregiously embarrassed by one of our pastors making one single issue the litmus test on whether one should be proud or embarrassed to be a United Methodist. It makes me want to ask, "Rev. Ray, don't you have a life?"

I am probably the most reluctant pro-choice clergy in the UMC: with our denomination, I know that sometimes abortion is the least lousy of a series of lousy choices, and that those choices need to be made by the woman, her partner, her doctor, and her pastor. At the same time, I also am appalled that almost 30 of the conceptions in this country are aborted. (Check the statistics in any Almanac for the accuracy of that statement!) There are a lot of easier and less traumatic (for all) ways to prevent an unwanted conception from occurring. We need to be preaching that if one wants to be sexually active, one needs to be responsible about it before getting into bed.

To condemn abortion as the single, most important, and even only issue is to ignore preaching the wholeness in life to which Christ taught us to pursue and to live.

I, too, lament the demise of the Cokesbury local stores. At the same time, I know that brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing right and left, and that these days, every online bookstore uses computerized catalogs from distributors like Ingram and others. We get what we pay for. If we want only to get "religious" books that pass muster with our sensibilities, we have to pay the cost of having brick-and-mortar stores. If we aren't willing to pay the financial cost of that luxury, we have to allow for the fact that cataloging is at best an art rather than a science, and not blame Cokesbury for being as much victimized by distributors as Rev. Ray feels.

Tom Griffith more than 2 years ago

One-sided message about abortion

I appreciate his statement, even if I'm not ready to defund the UMW. Whenever GBCS and the Women's Divison speak about the importance, dignity and rights of children, I have to wonder why they don't concern themselves with children before birth. It's just as incomplete as those on the "pro-life" side who seem to stop concerning themselves with children after birth. Justice pays attention to those who are weak and vulnerable. Children before birth are definitely weak and vulnerable, and adults exercise nearly unlimited power over them. Is this not a justice issue? Why does the child exercise no "choice" and the adult has it all? That's been the law for 40 years, but that does not make it just. Once our Social Principles saw abortion as "the tragic conflict of life with life". The current statement appears to see no tragedy or conflict at all.

Jeanne Devine more than 2 years ago


I am shocked that this article was given print space. For a licensed local pastor to advocate UMC churches dismantle their chapters and support of the United Methodist Women shows an abject lack of understanding for the depth and breadth of the organization's work and value. Instead of him offering dialogue, avenues of reconciliation or grace, he proposes his own death knell on a life-saving organization. Simply because a person is able to string together sentences in a coherent manner, is that reason to give him this public forum? I think the article and its incendiary sentiment more properly belongs under the "Good News" umbrella.

Pamela Nelson-Munson more than 2 years ago

Notable Quotes

“Someone should have told the young man (alleged shooter Dylann Roof), [that if] he wanted to start a race war, ... he came to the wrong place.”
– African Methodist Episcopal Bishop John Richard Bryant at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and one of the nine shooting victims.

"I read scripture theologically. But as a New Testament scholar, I see my job as always listening first and foremost to the text in its historical context, and allowing its theology to be the first voice to which we respond. In the end, I will affirm creeds or confessions, if I do, because I believe they contain the right things to say at a given moment in time in which they were written, in light of what scriptures says."
– J. R. Daniel Kirk, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who was denied tenure after participating in a panel on how to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality. From his blog Storied Theology.

"War, retaliation and retribution are not the answer. The only thing that will conquer hate is our deciding to love. Such is the imperative of discipleship to love. Love that is unconditional. Situations may result in catastrophe. Circumstances may seemingly justify condemnation, but that’s not what Christians are allowed to do. We are not allowed to counter-punch. We are required to love in the face of pain, prejudice and persecution, doing so unconditionally."
– The Rev. F. Willis Johnson, pastor of Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson, Mo., in an essay on the Charleston massacre for Ministry Matters.