Photo Courtesy of Craig L. Adams
Back on October 19th the United Methodist Reporter ran an article by Dr. Thomas Glenn "Jack" Jackson III, E. Stanley Jones Assistant Professor of Evangelism, Mission, and Global Methodism at Claremont School of Theology entitled Breaking up is hard, but right thing for the UMC.
Some people linked to it on FaceBook. There has been quite a bit of discussion about it since it appeared.
It came out at the same time I was having major computer (and some health) difficulties (see: Personal Update 10/30/12), so I did not comment on the article here.
I did post John Wesley’s comments on schism — that was a comment of sorts.
On the off-chance you haven’t read Jackson’s article, here is my overview:
At the last General Conference the United Methodist Church re-affirmed it’s traditional stance on same-gender sex and on the ordination of actively gay and lesbian clergy. This, in spite of years and years of protest by progressives in the denomination. With the growth of the denomination in Africa and Asia, and its decline in Europe and the U. S. A., it is likely that this stance will be maintained in the UMC for many years to come. So, what are progressives to do? Jackson says, well, they have four options: (1.) “The first, to stay in covenant with the UMC while working toward inclusion….”; (2.) “The second option is to leave, or never join, the UMC in favor of progressive, fully inclusive denominations”; (3.) “The third option for progressives, one increasingly in play, is civil disobedience”; (4.) “…dividing from one UMC to at least two new, distinct denominations.”
The main part of the article is an argument that option 3 — civil disobedience, the option already chosen by the Western Jurisdiction — will not work and is actually destructive for the progressives’ cause. He says: (1.) “First, progressives don’t seem to have the resources to both stem the tide of decline nationwide and work towards inclusion”; (2.) “Second, there is little if any chance the denomination will become inclusive over the next generation”; (3.) “Third, the civil disobedience option ignores the reality that many progressives are choosing the second option of leaving the UMC or never entering it”; (4.) “Fourth, many advocates of civil disobedience ignore, or seem unaware of, the way many traditionalists will respond if current prohibitions are overturned.” He says that if even 10% leave, the results will be crippling to the denomination.
It’s all very well and clearly stated.
The overwhelming conclusion, he says, is that progressive United Methodists should set forth a plan to split the church along traditionalist / progressive lines.