Synthesizing the UMC Way Forward



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The core problem clearly stated

SB: The Gospel of Jesus Christ has far too much competition for our central theme and focus. We tend to be way too flexible with our theology and far too inflexible with our methodology. Our divisions are literally killing us. Our task is not to save an institution, it must be to reclaim our mission [to save individuals].

Betsy more than 3 years ago

Not so clearly state, but...

“Our divisions are literally killing us.” Ms. Betsy, you sure got that right! When the cancer of liberalism metastasizes, the body is doomed. Not sure I understand your full point, but my point is this: UMC “progressives” are not negotiable in their demands for full inclusion while we “traditionalists” believe the rules set forth by the Book of Discipline are worthy and must be followed. And, those in the middle who don’t really care, will watch their church spiral into anarchy But, now, there is no room for negotiation, no points of common denominator, no reason to continue this discussion. Let’s agree to disagree, let’s agree to go our separate ways, lets find ways to minimize destructive discordance and unlimited litigation. Have the Way Forward stop trying to save what does not want to be saved and get some accountants and business experts to get us all out of this morass and back to focus on Good Works.

Reese more than 3 years ago

Time to Play Nice

What did you learn in kindergarten? I remember the primary rule: Keep your hands and feet to yourself. As we grew, we added: Words hurt; kindness counts. Then, with maturity: Don't hurt others on purpose.

The Book of Discipline enshrines words of hatred and bigotry that defy all of the above. Those words of damnation of the GLBT community are truly words that violate everything we learned about kindness from the age of five.

It's time to grow up.

Ben more than 3 years ago

Growing up in God's way

The Book of Discipline emphasizes the UMC's dependence upon God's Word. So, it enshrines words of hatred, that are simply mimicking what God's Word says.

God's Word often has things to say that some will consider hateful. Probably the most severe example is at the final judgment. His love is demonstrated in his forgiveness for the repentant, who are welcomed to heaven. But, others are condemned to Hell. His word also has a lot to say that demonstrates his hate for the LGBT sins (and of course, a lot of other sins).

Being loving does not mean one must embrace sin. We are regularly commanded in the Bible to judge within the Body. The recipient may feel hurt, but if the motivation is with Love and under God's guidance, its goal is to bring the recipient of the judgment to repentance and back to fellowship with God and His Body.

It is time for the UMC to grow up, in regards to God's ways.

Joe Dunfee more than 3 years ago

I second the comment about "What about the people in the pew?"

As a lifelong Methodist/United Methodist I am struggling with the reality that ultimately--despite all the positives the church provided in my life--it left me in a spiritual never, never land unable to find true comfort in either God or the world. John Wesley is right on when he says that is a miserable place to be. The best plan in the world will probably never address the massive failure of the church to disciple the person in the pew. I now understand why--it is an example of theological plurality run amuck. Methodism is in existence because John Wesley's Priority #1 was the individual and their relationship with God. Wesley's goal was a "practical religion for a plain person", something that this plan will never accomplish because in the end the church will still be saying that same gender relationships are and are not part of God's plan for humanity.

Betsy more than 3 years ago

Tat is a very good point

If the United Methodist Church cannot speak with one voice on this issue, someone sitting in the pew who is struggling with same sex attraction will grow even more confused. A clean break with separate churches in all aspects is best.

the enemy hates clarity more than 3 years ago

Yes, misery in the middle

His word is quite explicit about how His Church should deal with members who are unrepentant of sexual sin. He commands His Church to judge its members, and put out from among themselves those who will not repent. He does NOT say to establish an affiliated church for those who want to participate in, or approve of that sin.

The UMC itself is in sin if it fails to exercise church discipline against those participating in the GLBT sins. God has given us some strong commands in His word concerning this issue. See I Cor 5.

I will quote verse I Cor 5: 9-11 "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— v10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. v11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people."

Joe Dunfee more than 3 years ago

Synthesizing A Way Forward

If you lack the stomach to wade through Chris Ritter's byzantine 'Platypus Proposal' for 'A Way Forward', here's the short version: it's a takeover of the United Methodist Church by the 'orthodox' minority, with all annual conferences that dissent from strict enforcement of the current Disciplinary rules that maintain heteronormative 'ministry standards' being forced into a second-class 'affiliated' status, or the 'skim milk' version of United Methodism, keeping their representation 'at the table' but without the denominational assets they will abandon when they choose to exit the 'real' United Methodist Church.
For example, all the annual conferences of the Western Jurisdiction may exit, leaving behind a few disgruntled congregations that are reorganized into a 'shadow' annual conference that is unsustainable. Under the Ritter's 'Platypus Plan' a few 'ghost' congregations may control the huge bulk of assets within the former Western Jurisdiction, but since this is obviously not a workable 'solution' to promote peace, it functions more like a punitive economic stab in the back for all who object to Ritter's rigid rule-bound 'orthodoxy.'
Ritter intends to bring the punitive enforcement hammer down on all who stay within the fold of the 'real' United Methodist Church. This means they're shown the back door instead of being put on trial--a time-consuming waste of precious resources designed to assure 'due process.'
After requiring all personnel to sign a new pledge of allegiance to clergy 'orthodoxy', Ritter makes the GCFA into the 'bad cop' enforcer of the New Rules, with authority to patrol the 'wall' between the 'real' United Methodists and the 'skim milk' Methodist affiliate groups.
Ritter even goes so far as to suggest that ALL the annual conferences in the USA may devolve into 'skim-milk' affiliates of the 'real' United Methodist Church--which would be centered in Africa, but with a lot of empty church buildings abandoned or sold off in America.
This is a truly nasty 'solution' that violates the human dignity of all who disagree with Ritter's version of 'orthodoxy'. And it just won't work organizationally. So no wonder it quacks like a platypus!

Wayne Jones more than 3 years ago

Generous Togetherness

Thanks, Wayne, for taking time to read and comment thoughtfully. Here are a few responses:

This plan grants full representation at General Conference to the annual conferences accepting the new status... we all get a continued seat at the table.

Every plan being considered by the Commission seeks to balance unity and separation. We are either going to kick one side out or reorganize our corporate life. This plan finds a way to restructure without delving into our Constitution, which requires super-majorities unlikely to be found for any Way Forward.

I am quite sure that the Wesleyan Covenant Association would sponsor an affiliated autonomous body under this plan, giving them the same status as Western Jurisdiction conferences. This is not a conservative takeover. (I offer this plan realizing that I may very well end up in an affiliated autonomous body.)

You call the plan byzantine, but it is actually the most straightforward structural plan I have seen (and I have written several myself). The legislation can be accomplished in less than 2,000 words and contained in a single new disciplinary paragraph.

If there are elements of the plan that are economically punitive, adjustments can be made. I am simply going for fairness here.

Your concerns about church buildings being sold off require additional explanation. All local church properties remain in trust with the annual conferences of which they are a part. The general church never receives these assets under our polity.

Thanks again for offering your thoughts.

Chris Ritter more than 3 years ago

Complicated, long, what do the polls of members say?

Yours is a thoughtful,but very complicated supposition of what might be. Have there been any real polls among the general members of UMC? It seems that a chosen few elites are developing the alternatives, but do not even open their meetings to we the common pew-sitters. Speaking as just a member, who stopped all donations early this year in response to the handling of a lesbian bishop, gay clergy, gay marriages- all things that are counter to our Book of Discipline, but forgiven and forgotten. When it is all sorted out and there is a Methodist Church near us which is not associated with the progressives in any way,and does not send a penny of my donations to any liberal plate or the national church, we might visit if we have not already affiliated with a non-denominational church. The UMC really needs to get a real knowledge of how many different attitudes there are among we who pay the bills. And, they need to keep this simple, understand that the differences are deep and not reconcilable, that splits will happen and are, indeed, already underway and there is an urgency to declare the decision before so many are gone that the pews and plates are already empty.

Reese more than 3 years ago

Way forward

Apparently people seem to think this way forward can be accomplished without rancor and bitterness. Once this process kicks off there is no telling how far and how fast it will go. Do not delude yourselves into thinking it can be controlled.

Kevin more than 3 years ago

Notable Quotes

"So much of American Christianity is tightly wrapped up with control, nationalism, xenophobia, and racism that folks are walking away .... So conservatives hunker down and shut out questions and despise doubt. What is actually needed are faith communities that provide safe space for questions and doubt, that recognize them as an important part of growth, that show love no matter what."

– The Rev. Charlie Baber, "Wesley Bros: Old Arguments, Same Story"

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