U.S. Church Leaders Meeting Behind Closed Door on What’s Next for UMC

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Executing a split.

The midwestern annual conference leaders are having negotiations on a split. That's close to being the right body that could actually contemplate a split. Reverend Howell, Reverend Hamilton, Bishop Sue aren't able to execute a split. GC isn't capable of executing a split. GC doesn't have the authority to give away an annual conference's assets. Each annual conference will have to negotiate a split. Some will say that they will continue as is. Potentially, some could negotiate some compromise. Very difficult to give away assets when your pension is relying upon them.

Anonymous 138 days ago

Closed door planning for “the way forward”

The door has opened a crack: Adam Hamilton’s has written report to his congregation (notably not widely distributed by Hamilton himself), and a few participants have shared what they are “allowed” to say publicly. To me this looks more or less like same hymn, second verse. To begin with it’s outrageously Methodist in tone and process; it’s clearly a top-down approach, and the person most visible at the top is a wealthy white middle-aged pastor of a 22,000-member congregation who proudly represents himself as a “centrist” and notes that he (and presumably others) “decided” to include some progressives in the process just as they invited some traditionalists. Now I have no ill-will toward Brother Adam; I think he is doing the best he can given the limitations of his vision. But I’m a bit surprised he didn’t know better.

Of course it’s a delight to know that people like Pamela Lightsey with a keen sense of what is meant by full inclusion, are included. But since the full participant list has not been released one wonders how far beyond tokenism the group has moved.

Bill Metford’s blog in Fig Tree Revolution was on point: It really has to be about the usual suspects in leadership positions standing aside - taking the margin - so that the voices of the traditionally marginalized can be heard.

Noting that there are still other smaller, more secret meetings happening, reportedly to negotiate (principally financial?) terms for a separation, I have to assume the two processes will merge at some point, but at that point (and I will brook no argument with this), those terms will have been determined and the negotiators wil argue it’s “too late” for a larger group to reconsider salient points.
I am not prepared to argue that a somewhat left-of-center UMC is a bad thing. But it’s hard to see how it will be the new thing.

Morris Floyd 138 days ago

Centrist?

He seems to be a leader of the progressives. His views clearly aren't centrist in terms of our membership. 48% of them voted for Trump. He's well to the left of Trump. Is he centrist amongst our clergy? That's harder to say. As a minister in politically divided congregations, its better to be a little guarded with your views. I guess we might find out on that score, however.

ANonymous 138 days ago

Trump?

How does political support (or the lack of it) for Trump have any bearing on theological division within the church? They're apples and oranges.

John 136 days ago

It seems to be correlated.

It's not a perfect fit, but it would seem strange to me that a Trump voter would be really adamant that the church needs to affirm gay marriage. I could see a Trump voter being accepting of LGBT or affirming while not thinking it is a litmus test that we would break the church up over. Maybe my generalization is wrong, but I think most of our progressive UMC members are also progressives in the political sense.

Anonymous 136 days ago

But does correlation relate to causation?

You may be correct when you're looking at votes cast FOR Trump. But recall that there were numerous votes cast AGAINST Clinton; the fear of many who weren't happy with either Trump or Clinton that a vote cast for neither might still result in a Clinton win meant that many ballots were begrudgingly cast in the Trump column. I know many persons whose votes went to Trump who wouldn't be caught dead in a MAGA hat but who saw Clinton as the greater danger. Yet, that's secular partisan politics.

Given our highest allegiance is to God (and secondarily to God through the emerging Kingdom, the church), it's not too difficult to take a libertarian stance on governmental powers and a more authoritarian stance on ecclesial matters. In matters of trust, that makes sense; we assume the State will pursue its own self-interest which is aligned with an unregenerate world while the church is ostensibly led by sanctified souls yearning to follow God's will in a ministry of reconciliation and restoration.

John 135 days ago

I love you, John!

I think the NeverTrumpers that decided to vote Trump would be hesitant to go full bore as well.

Anonymous 132 days ago

The cost of the battle

The cost of continuing this battle is that non-Christians will continue to be turned off and disgusted by our actions. We are hurting Christ as much if not more than each other. Neither side will give in and the odds of the progressives taking over next year are extremely small. Even if they do it is quite possible the Africans will be able to take over in 2024 and reverse the decisions made next year. Instead of acrimony and fighting we need to come up with a mutually agreeable plan of separation, shake hands and go our separate way. The more we fight the harder hearts get and the uglier the fight will get. This is not a fight for control of a corporation or family assets. This is about Christ's church and how lives are won for Christ. Continuing to hurt each other is not the way.

Scott 138 days ago

i agree.

But these liberal leaders were just fine and dandy with forcing their new rules on the rest of the church and not providing a way out for traditional believers. Now that they realize that they don't have the votes, they want a way for themselves to leave. I agree that it is the right decision to allow them to graciuosly leave, but i remember that they were not open to letting those who disagree with them to leave.

td 138 days ago

Except...

... that's not exactly correct. Rev Lambrecht [the one who submitted the Trad Plan] noted that the exit plan that was voted in was submitted in alignment with the One Church plan.

JR 131 days ago

LOL!!! "U.S. Church Leaders Meeting Behind Closed Door..."

They never learn, do they? Brilliant bishops got into the "way forward" exercise without asking wide customer input from we the people, then kept the way forward world travelers behind CLOSED DOORS and thus came up with a way nowhere, then losing to a traditional plan which has delivered predictable revolution. Of course,
most of us who are not as smart as the bishops know that a win for the progressive side would have resulted in similar revolution from the traditional side. Time's up for the UMC and most of us know it.
.
So, time to begin the divorce process, but discussing the details BEHIND CLOSED DOORS will lead to even more distrust, frustration and animosity! Why not set up a web-sight where all bishops might submit a two-page summary of their idea for splitting the American UMC so the widest range of clergy and lay leaders can review the ideas and start the dialogue to move toward a consensus?
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Bishops need to realize that their "tablets down from closed doors on the mountain" idea of leadership does not work with today's Americans. Open the doors, open the debate! Find a way to serve American Methodism best, and let the other nations and cultures address the issues in ways best for them.

Reese 138 days ago

Way Forward

Love your neighbor as yourself. Not complicated, really.

Mike 138 days ago

And now the shoe is on the other foot

These so called Uniting Methodists are showing that the only type of unity they are interested in is the one where they get their way. What an amazing study in human nature: this group is now doing and saying things that they criticized the WCA for doing and saying. Just maybe if these how powered leaders had taken the WCA more seriously and/or listened to the Way Forward Commission and attached a generous exit plan to all the options, things would be a whole lot different now. I don't know whether to laugh at the comedy of the situation or cry at the tragedy of this is the best the leaders of The American United Methodist Church can do.

betsy 138 days ago

Praise

Thanks for your comment. It was productive and was useful to Christlike dialogue.

Anthony Carr 138 days ago

We all have our perspsectives on this

And that is mine and I stand by it. Since GC2012 I have been monitoring the development of this situation by listening to every voice I could find. What I have learned is the American UMC has become a theological mess and it breaks my heart to see her like this; everybody talking past each other because everybody--including leadership--is approaching the concept of what it means to be a United Methodist from completely different perspectives about everything. We are a house divided against ourselves. Just how much longer can we dialogue about this when we do not even understand each other?

betsy 136 days ago

Christlike dialogue?

Exactly when did Christ model having a never ending dialogue with anybody? My perception of Christ is that he is the ultimate teacher, there is no dialoguing with Him, there is only listening to Him because He is not only fully human, He is also fully divine. Christ is God the creator choosing to become the created in order to correct human misperceptions of who the creator triune God is and what He really expects out of His creation. What is your perception?

betsy 136 days ago

My perspectrive on dialogue

As expressed by someone else:

"To apologetically and self-consciously engage in continual debate is a prelude to accommodation via compromise. I.e., a path to surrender. "

I will stand my ground, please feel free to stand yours and I will freely defend your right to do so. But please face the reality that both of us cannot share the same space, i.e church. Furthermore, never-ending dialogue is not supported by a Wesleyan understanding of who the person of a truly catholic spirit really is. But then a major reason the UMC is in this mess is because it has lost a robust, Wesleyan understanding of the catholic spirit and how it applies to the church and the Church. I have a concept that there is a church and a Church; do you?

betsy 136 days ago