Divide the UMC? Let's Curb Our Enthusiasm Until We Think It Through



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Just Leave

All the comments here appear to have a great deal of thought put into them...and have air of education to them. I'm very blue collar and am afraid my opinion wont quite measure up...but Carolyn is right. This kind of thing happens all the time. You spent a great deal of time explaining why we shouldn't because the division has many legal ramifications. If we leave, what would we care? My question is this...you go on about all the legal aspects of separating the church...but if people leave and take their money with them, all this will become nonsense. What will we care about what is left to divvy up if we've left to start another church or leave to join another denomination. I'm in Memphis and there's a mega church on every corner...many are a good deal more involved in the local community and are exponentially more spiritual than the UMC. When we leave or withhold our apportionments in escrow until the Council of Bishops make up their minds... all this legal jibber jabber wont matter. I'm with Scott...but I would call the Central Conferences / Council of Bishops hypocrites. Who holds them accountable? I came to the UMC many years ago because the message made sense...not so much any more. Regarding the issue of authorizing Homosexual rights within the UMC...if there are so many of them that are being denied rights, why don't they start their own church instead of trying to change the doctrine of ours? And Adam Hamilton...in 10 years this will be a non issue sounds like "when the old guard is gone" all will be well. That is offensive. If it wasn't for our dedication to doctrine, his story would be different.

Paul more than 5 years ago

Not as difficult as you think

Business people do acquisitions and mergers all the time that deal with the issues you have stated. It is not that difficult. What is difficult is the lack of will of the leaders to do their job in dealing with clergy that are in flagrant defiance of the church and the Book of Discipline.

Carolyn more than 5 years ago

The Perfect vs. The Good

It's hard to argue with the facts as you've presented trhem. The difficulties of "dividing the denomination would be challenging in the best of worlds and the loss of the UMC historical connection and the opportunities it enables for ministries beyond the local church would be a terrible loss despite the concerns many have about what theological precepts are being transmitted. in the common name of United Methodism.

That said, I fear that perfect consideration of the administrative problems you raise concerning division would seem to preclude any meaningful adjustments to the structure that could build a bigger tent that might facilitate the UMC either moving past or learning to live with the its theological differences -- creating a bigger tent if you will through a more decentralized approach that would correct the absurdity of Central Conferences dictating the standards for the American church, while being free themselves from adherence to the same standards and empowered to conduct their ministries and affairs in culturally specific and appropriate ways. Clearly guaranteed appointments, pensions, and trust clauses already serve as a lock against the clergy lifting the Gospel imperatives above institutional security they enjoy, particularly given the use of both disciplinary action and local church "discontinuance" for ostensibly political rather than administrative purposes.

While I personally do not support division, the question for me is not about the perfect, preserving economic assets, or perpetual deference to the needs of clergy and the institution. The question for me is about the good of carrying the Gospel to the lost, the least, and the lonely in the world and in meeting them where and as they are, with a love of God that welcomes rather than requires. Therein lies the greater task before the Bishops in the call to provide leadership.

Scott T Imler more than 5 years ago

How do we function

as a single organization now that there is a group that feels the very structure of which they are a part is not functioning correctly and in not dealing with clergy who have chosen to put themselves above the designated processes has, in fact has not functioned as it was designed function?

Betsy more than 5 years ago

I don't understand

Your comment ends with a question, but I do not understand what is being asked. I'm thinking you are assuming evidence not established as factual. Perhaps this will help: right next to our town there is a separate municipality which has a well-deserved reputation as a "speed trap." I seldom go there, but it so happens the best steakhouse in 50 miles is there, too. After having had two tickets there I avoid it like the plague. Other than going to the steakhouse I've been there two times: (1) to attend a public forum with a legislative candidate who's a friend in their city hall, where another friend was Mayor; and (2) to visit the Mayor's widow after his funeral. When I go to the steakhouse I make dang sure I obey the speed limits, use turn signals, and have my license and proof of insurance. It's an irritant, sure, but I heard of another lodge brother of the late Mayor who approached him about fixing a ticket only to be angrily dispatched - their budget was predicated on the revenue from tickets and they had nice schools and parks, and their fire department and cop shop were second to none for a town that size. When the Mayor's funeral procession passed down their two-mile stretch of the Interstate going from the funeral home to the veterans' cemetery, the police officers and firefighters formatted themselves on the overpass into a phalanx around their newest and most up-to-date firetruck and saluted as the hearse went under. But, yeah, having to use turn signals there and avoid California-rolling through a stop sign is a pain, but, other than that, they don't hurt me. So consider that when visiting this jurisdiction it's probably prudent to avoid repeating the lies we hear about our LGBT Brothers and Sisters on Focus on the Family and the like. I guess for some that's too high a price to pay.

George Nixon Shuler more than 5 years ago

You make very valid points

And dissolving the UMC would be complicated. You rightly reference that our divisions start with sexuality and the interpretation/use of scripture however you miss the point that has greatly exacerbated the division over the last 4 years--and they are part of your pillars: the authority of General Conference which is currently the only thing we have that is designated to speak for the church and the disciplining of clergy who refuse to uphold their commitments. And since GC2016 the question of what to do about churches and conferences that refuse to abide by the decision made by General conference. The sexuality question in and of itself is not that threatening; but through disobedience, clergy and now churches and conferences are weakening the very pillars that enable us to function as a connectional church with an Episcopal structure.

Betsy more than 5 years ago


He brings up some valid and important questions. It would be worth our while to put a planning team together to address these issues and minimize conflict in the event that we do split but such a team would be sending a message that we are splitting. As it stands now we continue to increase tensions and when we do break apart it could get ugly. The idea that we can somehow control the division by creating conservative and progressive conferences or an American only jurisdiction is a myth. Once we start dividing there is no telling where or how it will end.

Kevin more than 5 years ago

That last sentence...

...reminds me of a bit in a cartoon the old "Wittenburg Door" Christian humor magazine once had about two Youth for Christ type guys which were in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy going back to the two schlubs in the walk to Emmaus, one average stupid and the other really, really stupid. They haggled over responses to lust and other temptations on a college campus and once the
dimmer one said something which made the other one go "Sometimes I wonder about everyone but me and thee, but now I'm beginning to wonder about thee..." I think that's a paraphrase of something in Shakespeare or the bible. That's where exclusion always ends up. A more vivid example of this logical conclusion is found in the 1968 movie "Wild In The Streets" about a youth rebellion in which a 25-year-old rock star named Max Frost is elected President when 14-year-olds gain the right to vote and everybody over 30 is sent to concentration camps where they are fed a diet laced with LSD. At the end, Max gets angry and storms out of the White House and goes down to the Potomac River where three boys had a pet turtle roped to a dock. He stomps the turtle to death and then rushes out of there when the boys confront him. Just before the credits roll one of the boys says, "We're gonna put everybody over 10 out of business."

George nixon Shuler more than 5 years ago


FRIGHTENING!!!! Not doable and maintaining the witness of Jesus Christ, John Wesley and Love!

Rev. Thomas L. Shanklin more than 5 years ago