Where Do We Go from Here?

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And get real

With the exponential numeric growth of Africa, just exactly how are progressives going to win anymore battles at General Conference! It is not like they have not been completely clear about where they stand. Step back from your well-intentioned, good-hearted cause and look at the reality of what is going on in the UMC as well as other denominations that have gone down this exact same path.

betsy 144 days ago

US Focused

I think some progressives are doing the math and realizing that. Which is why meetings will be held and decisions made. I only hope that to avoid this happening again that whatever organization geared toward Moderates like myself will have a purely US centric ministry. This avoids a future situation like this past weekend and we can focus our funds and efforts on the mission field here.

eric 144 days ago

Where do we go

This sentence here says it all
"traditionalist United Methodists, misled by church politicians whose motives are lower than a serpent’s belly"

Clearly the author dismisses the GC decision as pure politics driven by impure motives. Has the thought occurred to her that the delegates who voted were serious Christians who prayed and agonized over the seriousness of the conference agenda? I believe the correct path was chosen. The temper tantrums thrown by the progressives who did not get their way was unbelievable. Where do we go now? Forward. The way has been chosen.

Kevin 144 days ago

So when do we put an end to this

war and go our separate ways? That way everybody wins. Currently nobody is winning--especially the American branch of The United Methodist Church which is in consistent numerical decline. You are not going to put a period on the existence of the historical Christianity of traditionalists anymore than traditionalists are going to put a period on your progressive evolving understanding of Christianity. To outside observers like this veteran religion news writer, The United Methodist Church makes absolutely no sense; make sure you click on the embedded links https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/2/27/next-big-news-story-after-40-years-of-war-is-united-methodist-establishment-ready-to-bargain


THERE IS A REASON WHY PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER CHOOSING TO BE UNITED METHODISTS: IT IS NO SECRET THAT THE UMC HAS BECOME MORE OF A BATTLEFIELD THAN A CHURCH

betsy 144 days ago

We go our separate ways

I have spent the better part of the last two days listening to my grown daughter (a progressive) about different interpretations of the Bible. However, I just don’t get it. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation, but I hope it is the last. The Bible is very clear in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexuality is a sin. It is almost like the 11th commandment. So, it seems to me that those who refuse to accept God’s Word are choosing to side with a human Interpretation” with no basis rather than the Biblical basis that only heterosexuals fulfill God’s intent of procreation. In any event she isn’t going to change my mind, nor will I change hers. It is time to go our separate ways just as it is time for the UMC to split and go our separate ways. Just as I will continue to disagree with my daughter and her social justice ways, I will still love her. Similarly, I will still love my progressive brethren when they leave the UMC. I simply ask them for both our sakes not to drag this out any further. Just leave ASAP and take your social justice principles/agenda with you. God Bless us every one.

Steve 144 days ago

People not Choosing UMC

I think the issue is Americans and Europeans are no choosing to be affiliated with anything these days.

Eric 144 days ago

From My Point of View

From my point of view we have reaffirmed Christian teachings from the Bible. Once again, the majority of Methodists have spoken, this time in a louder voice, that we must respect God and God's Plan of Created Order, male and female. “We affirm that God's grace is available to all.” I hope to see the sexually confused come to understand why we consider homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” And that through the Power of God they can be healed. Jesus calls us us to be holy because our Father in heaven is holy. Let us do that together.

Yes, Jesus calls us to love God and neighbor. We must be committed to both love and the Truth of God to do that. God's way of living benefits us in ways we can't even understand. We need to have faith in God to lead us and not look at ideas from the culture around us. Our hope is in God and God alone.

Skipper 144 days ago

Disaffiliation petitions

But they weren't referred to the Judicial Council. Does that mean they won't be reviewed?

Anonymous 144 days ago

Going back is unlikely

The UMC's first anti-gay resolution was in 1972, that is, 47 years ago. This was in the early years of the gay rights movement and much has changed in society since then. Many gays were astonished that equal marriage was passed in states even before the court decision. The UMC has not changed its mind on this subject. Indeed, it is becoming more conservative as liberals decline in numbers due to death and lower birthrates and the greater influence of the Third World. We have seen the UMC reverse itself on abortion rights. I have read comments that the Holy Spirit inspired GC 2019, but no mentioned is made of the Holy Spirit inspiring the GC that approved abortion rights. Did the Devil take over that GC and could that have just happened again? Given its countenancing of slavery, I found it amusing that Africans voiced full support for scripture. As has been long noted, the Bible Believers only support those verses they pick and choose and not the whole. All this gives credence to a quote by Susan B. Anthony, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

David 144 days ago

Your spin confirms unity not possible

The following statement you made simply proves why we need to separate: “... while Traditionalist forces rejoice triumphantly that they rammed through their punitive plan ... .” Who’s rejoicing by what just transpired? It was disheartening to hear the majority of delegates who traveled from around the world to be labeled by “Progressives” as gay-hating Neanderthals because they voted their conscience based on their sincere understanding of God’s command on how we lead our lives. Who can rejoice at the political maneuvering of supporters of the OCP or the “Simple” plan to try to run out the clock in a desperate effort to thwart the will of the majority. Please explain how Traditionalists “rammed through” anything when (a) Traditionalist simply voted to preserve our historical understanding of Scripture, thereby preserving our beliefs, and (b) the various plan were put to a vote and vote simply did not go the way you preferred. What is punitive about a plan that says “these are our rules we’ve duly voted to abide by so we expect those who take an oath to abide by them do so or face expected consequences?” Especially since we are paying their salaries? Yes, I passed biology class and have a college degree from a respected academic university with membership in Phi Beta Kappa and a professional degree as well, so I reject your inference as a “professional” that Traditionalists are either uneducated rubes or colonized Africans who can’t possibly think for themselves. So I think you have done an excellent job of highlighting just why Methodists need to go their separate ways as two Wesleyan denomination’s. I gladly let you and your like-minded “Progressives” go your way on your faith journey with your church properties and just wish you would similarly bless the Traditionalists in the same spirit.

John 144 days ago

Is there a Re-Sale Store for Old Denominations? Let’s Drop Off the UMC…

I’m not sure who would want to buy it. It’s worn out. It’s parts don’t fit together anymore. It’s cushions are frazzled, threadbare and no longer comfortable. Maybe it would have some value to somebody, but to most of us Methodists, current and former, it is simply in the way.
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UMC’s bishops tried desperately to re-tool the UMC at the big, expensive GC 2019. In an effort to re-make it in their own image (which is non-committed to traditional, historical operating parameters), they had created a charade called “The Way Forward”, a secret society of fixer-uppers who were shielded from input from the paying customers and given direction only by those with a personal monetary and comfort interest in the future. The results were as predictable as gravity. Things went down quickly.
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UMC now finds that the “global church” it created has now turned against it. American made UMC is now been reprogrammed by foreign programmers who have joined traditional USA programmers to reaffirm old, proven values - while the new, progressive USA programmers, East and West, are un-hinged, smokin' and spewin'!
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Next stop: Judicial Council. This writer cannot find a metaphor to represent the irrelevance of the UMC Judicial Council. Worst example: At the appointment of an openly lesbian bishop, Judicial reviewed it, agreed that it violated the BoD, but left her in place with an “in good standing” seal of approval. What kind of QC is that? Who is ever going to take anything the Judicial Council rules on “constitutionality” seriously?
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So, where are we? We are worse off than ever! If the staunchest traditionalists thought that using the global church votes to force new, tougher rules on American progressives would work, that was really dumb. Pouring gasoline on a fire would be safer. If progressives thought a thinly veiled “one Church” capitulation to homosexual demands would be the foot in the door for the eventual Simple Plan, think again. Traditionalists slammed the door.
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So, where do we go from here? Dump the UMC, it no longer works. Get two new “denomination kits”, fairly divide any usable parts from the old, and start building two new denominations. Quit wasting time, money and common goals on something that cannot be fixed!

Reese 144 days ago

Jurisdictions

The purpose of jurisdictions is to not allow SE annual conferences tell NE annual conferences what to do. That is their purpose in the Constitution. This is by design. The W and NE jurisdictions pushed their rights within the Constitution past hte breaking point. SGAC leaves first is my prediction.

Anonymous 144 days ago

Not the facts

Dear Anonymous. It not about the SE Jurisdiction telling the Western or NE Jurisdictions what to do. It’s the General Conference, the body authorized to make church law, that is telling all jurisdictions the rules which are to be followed within our denomination. The Western and N. E. Jurisdictions, or at least a certain proportion of conferences within those jurisdictions, are the ones thumbing their noses at provisions adopted by GC and expect to have no consequences for their blatant disobedience of disdain for our duly adopted BOD.

John 143 days ago

Okay.

But General Conference, through the use of rules related to jurisdictions and annual conferences, does not allow GC, the Judicial Council, etc to enforce its rules within those conferences. That is the point of the Traditional Plan changes, to provide that enforcement mechanism. I believe our current situation was not an unforeseen oversight, but by design.

This will be ruled unconstitutional. Then it will be put up or shut up time for the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Anonymous 143 days ago

If ruled unconstitutional

If the Judicial Council rules unconstitutional any enforcement mechanism that provides for accountability to General Conference, thereby allowing certain annual conferences to continue flaunting our rules, then I will agree the UMC is by design ungovernable and apparently incapable of reforming itself. In that case I’m ready to join the South Georgia conference in leaving and moving on in the direction envisioned by General Conference and certainly envisioned by the South Georgia Conference.

John 142 days ago

Consider. Beware.

John, I thought you'd say that. You got to be real careful here. I see how you are seeing it. But you better make sure those boys in Western Pennsylvania are with you. They agree with you. But they may not be willing to go with you. Maybe the Judicial Council gives you a half of loaf. You take that, Mr. John. Western Pennsylvania AC is going to take that. But they may give you no bread. Let me tell you, John. If you got that oil money in Texas and Oklahoma and West Ohio, then you do what you want. But if you don't get that, you're better off waiting and standing pat on June 2nd. June 13th through June 20th, all the progressives will meet and they may not be able to accept this deal either. And if they don't, if they can't accept loving you, then you win big.

Anonymous 142 days ago

Not interested in winning

Dear Anonymous, it’s really not about “winning” for me. I’d rather watch football to obtain satisfaction about “winning.” I’m just sick of the bickering and do not wish to financially support those who in my mind willingly violate their oath to abide by our rules. Perhaps I’m too “Rules” -oriented, but without legal parameters, society sinks into chaos. Without Religious standards, orthodoxy no longer defines who we are as Christians or more particularly, Methodists. You may be right and it would be financially ruin for one or more annual conferences to leave. I’m willing to risk what my conscience says is the right way to move forward because I see this more as an issue of my understanding of my relationship with God and what He expects of me rather than institutional survival or financial success. I would prefer all Traditionalist congregations or conferences or jurisdictions remain together, but how this all plays out is not about me. I can find my worship home. It might mean staying with my local church and if the denomination cannot or will not reform itself, resigning my membership from the UMC and financially supporting my local church by giving to funds just for my local church. Doing so would be sad, as it removes me from that connectionalism, but conscience trumps connectionalism for me every time. I have to trust what I understand God to be demanding of how I follow Him.

John 141 days ago

An analogy: the Abusive Spouse

An analogy: As a United Methodist pastor for almost forty years, I realize that I'm married to an abusive spouse (the UMC). My spouse is abusing/harming my children (my own daughter and all LGBTQ persons). I care deeply for my spouse and we have a long history together. But my spouse is committed to continue abusing my children at least as long as I'm alive. Lord, guide me in what to do with my marriage and this abusive spouse.

Mike Tupper 144 days ago

Divorce is your answer.

But really your analogy is wrong. You are in a fraternity. Your chapter fraternity has selected its members based on criteria it thought was important. You pledged the chapter and had to make time commitments and were given an up or down vote. Other chapters were founded and have selected their members in the same way. While founded by the same people, you have different people in the chapter. Maybe within the jurisdictions, there is some common traits, but it gets really wide outside the jurisdiction, but even within some jurisdictions. You say you are an XYZ fraternity, but the first order loyalty is to the AB chapter of XYZ. The language of the chapters really frustrates the people not in your chapter. It's hard to say whether this is always by design, but it sure seems like it.

Anonymous 144 days ago

Progressives behaving badly...

"Progressives and centrists came to St. Louis bearing love and unity." Really? You're really going to just pretend that the progressive and centrist meltdown, hate-fest and unbelievably nasty behavior at GC towards the traditionalists never happened?!?

Your side really needs to do some serious self-evaluation if you consider this behavior acceptable in any way, shape, or form. I understand your disappointment, but instead of nasty commentary like this, has the thought even crossed your mind that repentance and apologies for your sides' behavior should be the first order of the day?

Paul W. 144 days ago

Expectations

The Moderates and Progressives came into the conference expecting holy conferencing. The Conservatives came into win a legislative fight. It was two groups playing two different games. And the Progressives basically brought playdough to a legislative fight. They didn't do the global lobbying and didn't consider the contexts. They didn't shore up the votes needed. So they lost. But to think that people would just not respond emotionally is naive. People are emotional and the disappointment was palpable. I am fed up with both extremists tearing down the connection over mammon. The question is whether this impacts decision making going forward. I say give them time to heal, pray, and decide whether they want to stay and fight, leave, protest, or go along. Either way. God is present through Christ.

eric 144 days ago

Agreed

Eric, I don't often reply to comments directly when I publish them, but I think you make a valid point. Throughout history marginalized people would have no other avenue but protest, sometimes violently, to fight what they feel is an injustice. In this case the protests were peaceful but moderately disruptive. That is how it's been all along.

John Astle (United Methodist Insight) 144 days ago

What?

Repentance and apologies?! The UMC has been abusing me for 59 years, but you want me to apologize?

Benjamin A. Uchytil 142 days ago

Time for another North South Split

I think the next logical step given that the Conservative Evangelicals have a solid grip power(as if that is the purpose of the Christianity) is form a new denomination with the Western, North Central and North Eastern Jurisdictions. There is PLENTY of income to support such a move. The key thing here though is making this a US focused denomination. We need to avoid the mistake of hitching our mission to areas of the world who will never support it. So I feel that maintaining the split from mission down is critical to protecting Wesley's vision going forward and certainly maintaining an open table that Christ envisioned. Moderates and Progressives need to come to term with the fact that our conservative peers more resemble SBC evangelicals than Methodists and THAT IS OKAY! Like Abraham and his nephew, we should embrace and go our own way. And let's make Minneapolis the GC that is a Moderate and Progressive celebration and invite the conservatives to have their own celebration elsewhere...in a more conservative setting. Afterall Minneapolis has the largest LGBTQIA population save for San Francisco. Wouldn't want to make them uncomfortable.

Eric Pone 144 days ago

Fascinating response by “Progressives” on the fruit of Methodist mission efforts

I’m fascinated with the reaction of several “Progressives” who see the new progressive-social justice oriented denomination they envision as needing to exclude mission and outreach with African nations and most other countries which make up the under-represented central conference (with the possible exception of a few Scandinavian and perhaps a few Western European congregations (those areas where Christianity is dying faster than even the Western Jurisdiction). So much for bringing God’s message through His Son and the Holy Spirit to those people who thirst for His Word and His saving grace. So really, who is being political? As your position is not persuasive to the majority, your solution is to eliminate those having a vote with whom you disagree. Nice. So much for appreciating cultural contexts. I agree we need a separation, but I find your lack of interest in overseas missions a wee bit appalling. But by all means, i’m Willing to set you and yours free with your properties so you can create your own denomination as you deem appropriate. We Traditionalists will be fine. If anything, maybe some good will result from GC 2019 if we will no longer be inundated with cliches from Bishops and current denomination leaders about how there is such beauty and strength in our disunity, I mean diversity.

John 144 days ago

Not our mission field

I see your point. But the mission field is controlled by the Conservative Evangelicals already. The movement has sowed a lot of time and money and there really isn't anything that Moderates or Liberals can or should do at this point to change that or impact that investment for God. The moderate/progressive mission fields are in the US in the inner cities and other progressive areas that need Jesus too. We are called to social justice, environmental justice, and defeating discrimination through the word of Christ. There are millions of people who will respond to a Church that welcomes all in full connection. Look, I agree its time for us to move on. I am just proposing that to protect our new connection we need to set clear boundaries which eliminate the impact of conservative evangelicalism. Traditionalists are not bad people. They are Christians. We just have different mission fields and people and causes we are called to express Christ in the World. I am sure both camps will be just fine long term.

eric 143 days ago

Okay

Thank you Eric

John 143 days ago

Millions?

How come these millions of people have not already piled into ECUSA, UCC, ELCA, etc.? Do these millions of people have some unspoken affinity for specifically Wesleyan spirituality? That sounds like the mirror image of conservative wishful thinking: "If we maintain traditional doctrine/morals/liturgy the young people, who are searching for truth, will surge through our doors."

From the Astle article I get an overwhelming sense of contempt, not only for "traditionalists" on the question of marriage, but for anyone who wants to retain a commitment to classic, orthodox Christian teaching (see the insulting "old white guy in the sky" strawman as a metonymy for orthodox theology). That means that those who value orthodox Christian theology- the ancient creeds, the teaching of the ecumenical councils, etc.- but who are not attached to the modern anti-LGBT evangelical posturing (and the two concepts are not inseparable) would likewise be marginalized and ignored in Astle's new Methodist church. And such people do in fact exist.

Ryan 143 days ago

Numbers

If you look at the numbers that within the Evangelical movements, you will see that like their liberal counterparts there has been a steady decline. Let me provide an example. While the SBC has opened record congregations in the prior year, they number of members has actually declined. Which means that people are simply moving from new start to new start. The Moderate /Progressive congregations have been able to maintain the bulk of the members and slow losses after their evangelical offshoots left. So it is at best a draw. Something will need to change to bring in young people and people who have given up the institutional church and instead watch Church on TV or frankly have replaced it with the NFL.It will require on both sides major new approaches needed.

Eric 143 days ago

Urban/rural

History doesn’t repeat but it often rhymes.

Anonymous 142 days ago

UMC split

Ms. Astle sounds just like the elites who are still upset that Trump was elected President. Much of her commentary lacks the expressions of "love and acceptance" she and the "progressives" claim to have. You are free to form your own church. You won't be missed as much as you think.

Bob 144 days ago

The End is Here

You might change your mind when 66% of the U.S. churches leave. There were plenty of people on the wrong side of slavery 150 years ago, and it took the church a century to reunite. Way to be on the wrong side of history, Bob.

Bowen 144 days ago

James

This article seems to be one-sided, Ike an editorial. Is it just an editorial? I do not know. I feel the writer wrongly stereotyped an entire group of people who adhere to the traditional view of what the Bible says. She offended me. I am not ashamed to say that I don’t agree with her or the way she insults people that don’t believe the same things that she does. I do not see love and acceptance that the UMC needs at this time. We are all made in God’s image, everyone of us, and God’s grace and forgiveness is for us all.

Yes, things change over time. People change. Groups change. Political views and social norms change. But God is God, The Great I am will always desire the best for us and His Word is truth and does not change. Nor can anything be added to it, or taken away.

James 144 days ago

God is

One of the interesting things about the Bible is how rarely God "says something" in the Bible. The bulk of the word is the varying forms of worship, polity, and philosophies that compete with each other over thousands of years. There isn't a set "religion" but more "Religions" worshiping the same God over time with varying rules within varying social contexts. Some we would agree with and some we would not. But God is God. There are over 500 commandments that Moses presented to the Israelite's most of which save for a few codified in law have been forgotten or deemed inappropriate. But God is being itself so we should be confident that regardless of what we think is right that God is present and if needed will step in when needed.

eric 144 days ago

Progressive being racist

The comments disparaging the voting of African members are pure racism. There are other comments proclaiming that the "next church" must be only inclusive of Americans. Please remember, these comments come from people who proclaim to stand for inclusiveness.

Dave 143 days ago

I get your point

I understand your point. But the values are not the same. You are asking Progressives and Moderates to feed our own destruction with our offerings! There is a difference in values in certain parts of the country. You can't say, on one hand, all the progressives and moderates should go if they can't support traditionalist teaching and then, on the other hand, feign shock and anger when we try to protect ourselves by limiting our mission fields by focusing within the US context. The African context can choose to believe what they want, but I shouldn't be forced to pay for it or support discriminating against LGBTQIA people. If Traditional congregations want to support those values then pay for it. But don't claim racism. As a Black American, I take great umbrage at people who throw racism around. Blacks were denied full membership in the US context until very recently. The LGTBQIA community shouldn't have to wait over 100 years for full inclusion. I see the moderate and progressive mission field as one that is hyper-local. If you feel differently then stay with the traditionalist camp and continue your mission.

eric 143 days ago

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