Who Bears the Burden of Our Ecclesiology?

A Response to the Rev. Tim McClendon

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This is not racial segregation

Something that many, if not the majority, on both sides of the LGBTQIA argument can agree was a bad idea--especially in the church. This is about how you view Christianity and its teachings. For starters, my sense is that progressives seem to come from a perspective of people are inherently good. Traditionalists, in true Wesleyan fashion, come from a position of people are inherently broken. My own life confirms the latter. As a result, progressives are ready to upend 2000+ years of the Christian understanding of sexuality; traditionalists are not. I have listened carefully, I have done my own research and I keep coming to the same conclusion: if progressives want to embark on a "new and improved" Christianity, they have my respect and blessing to do so. But I am not convinced and prefer to stick with what has a proven track record. We are at the point the Sanhedrin was when confronting the continuing Jesus movement even after Jesus was dead when one leader spoke these wise words: Let us do nothing; if it is of God it will succeed, if it is not, it will not. That is why this needs the ultimate test of time--a time where we are not expending all our energy as to who is right and who is wrong but the test of time where everybody is free to preach, teach and live our their beliefs as they see fit and quietly love and respect those who disagree with them and sometimes that love and respect can only be found at a distance from each other. And maybe when we are no longer conflicting and contradictory understandings trying to occupy the same exact space, we will be able to love and respect each other more than we ever thought possible. I have discovered that a church which has degenerated into theological factions jockeying for position and control and as a result is unable to say anything specific about anything in particular to be more of a liability than an asset. And my sense is that exact same feeling by many others is what is fueling the 50+ year of uninterrupted numerical decline. No organization, including the church can make any sort of positive impact when it spends the majority of its time fighting over who it is and what it is it needs to be doing. And that is exactly where the UMC is currently stuck.

betsy 93 days ago

We will all bear this.

Everyone seems to agree that the goal is to do the least harm. We aren't growing the pie. But the 20% cuts that they've discussed will probably not be enough. The more you look at it, the more it's the case that this will have big impacts in terms of giving. We are a voluntary organization. No one is drawing a line in a sand saying we have to stay together. There wasn't a different country you could go to (okay the Romneys tried Mexico and some people went to Brazil, but they quickly realized that that was a mistake). But we all pass multiple churches to get to the Methodist church we go to.

I think GC will choose the best option. It's just that none of them are good options. Passing the One Church Plan with no exits would be the best option if no conferences leave. Second best is just to not pass anything and live with the Western Jurisdictions disobedience. But again, that's contingent upon no conferences leaving. Next best seems to be Traditional Plan, but personally, I just really don't want to have all the continued disputes, because the progressives aren't leaving. No way, no how.

As a moderate, I prefer the first two. But I'm a fence sitter. I prefer the do nothing as it makes it harder for conservative conferences to leave. The actual argument regarding changing our policies is the weakest argument. Doesn't mean I think the conservative is all that great, but goodness, the progressive argument is weak.

I really wish we hadn't been pushed into a timetable, but the Western Jurisdiction definitely did that to us. I think they honestly did what they thought was right. But if any annual conferences vote to leave, then I will also think that they did what they honestly thought was right. This is great example of conflicts and I can see why the Anatomy of Peace was recommended to our clergy. Identifying the problem doesn't mean that people won't still go and make bad decisions. I know I've made bad decisions even when I knew they were bad decisions. Sad.

Anonymous 95 days ago


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   "My wish is that, one day, formal education will pay attention to the education of the heart, teaching love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, mindfulness, tolerance and peace. This education is necessary, from kindergarten to secondary schools and universities. I mean social, emotional and ethical learning. We need a worldwide initiative for educating heart and mind in this modern age."

 – HH The Dalai Lama, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times


    "[Author Vincent Strudwick] reimagines church as catalyst, transfiguring an egoistic society back to an altruistic one, celebrating a God who is as weak as water, but as irresistible as a river. Decisions should be taken at the lowest possible grass-roots level, dialogue superseding proclamation, and embodiment replacing autocracy.

– The Rt. Rev. David Wilbourne, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff in the Church of England, reviewing Strudwick's book: "The Naked God: Wrestling for a Grace-ful Humanity" in Church Times.

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