Questions about UMC Separation



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Tea Time

At the end of the 1784 Christmas Conference, Episcopal clergy invited Coke and Asbury for tea to discuss the future of the American Church. The Episcopalians reached out. Again in 1791 Bishops White and Seabury had discussions with Coke.

The Episcopalians have been very gracious during these trying times by being willing to continue the Full Communion talks.

Many, if not most, Methodists have more in common theologically, economically, and socially with the Episcopalians than they do with the Evangelical-Baptists-with-Bishops wing of their own church.

It's tea time again.

Metho-Anglican more than 2 years ago

Coffee instead

Those were Church of England clergy reaching out to Methodists in 1784, not "Episcopalians." The Episcopal Church (Protestant Episcopal Church) dates to 1789. More often than not, Episcopalians are classic higher-income WASPs with little in common with working-class Methodists. The Methodists I know who are tight with the few, remaining Episcopalians are limousine liberals who embrace a Moral Therapeutic Deism theology characterized by unitarianism and universalist with a tri-form, modalist vocabulary (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer). Historic Methodism and EUB expressions have far more in common with our pietist and Holiness brothers and sisters (Free Methodist, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Salvation Army, etc.) than with any other offshoots of Anglicanism.

Much of the tension within the church today is not about sexual expression itself, but about the identity of the United Methodist Church. Methodism in the early 19th century was the largest and fastest-growing expression of evangelical Christianity in the United States, claiming 1/3 of all US Christians of record. Since that time there has been an ongoing struggle between those who want to "mainline" Methodism and seek "respectability" within the larger, secular culture and those who seek to maintain a distinction between the salt and light of the church and the darkness of the world.

John more than 2 years ago


I should have said, "former Anglican" or "future Episcopalian". The Anglican Church in the colonies had been disestablished with the Treaty of Paris when the discussions started.

Been involved in Methodist churches in different towns. Not sure the doctors, dentists, lawyers, CPAs, university professors, CEOs, etc., would fit into your working class definition. That may be part of the problem.

Metho-Anglican more than 2 years ago

Former Episcopalian, current Methodist

And there's very little difference among the populations.

50 years ago there was probably a financial line to be drawn; Episcopalians had an outsized representation in Congress, for example. The only possible line to be drawn among the populations today is not at the top end but at the bottom end (where there are more Methodist churches in poor areas than there are existing Episcopalian churches).

Anonymusing more than 2 years ago

questions about separation

Excellent, insightful, realistic. One of many future statements that translates deep work on possible new expressions of the church from wishful thinking to healthy and realistic renewal. "Resistance" is a word with flair and about the 4 years of trench warfare in WW1 to get a spiritual sense of what that will do to the church and its global mission. 'Gracious exit' is great insofar as a spirit of graciousness can be cultivated by all contestants but that doesn't undo the kinds of challenges David outlines here.

Bob more than 2 years ago

i agree.

Given the situation, I think it is very unlikely that there will be any type of managed splitting of the UMC. Not only would that take decades to formulate, adopt, and institute- but the main problem is that those decisions will be befuddled by the same issues. There is no getting around the fact that there are a substantial number of clergy in the US who do not agree with official, adopted policies and doctrines of the UMC- all of which are severely unlikely to be changed.

The truth is that the majority (simply by the fact that they are the majority) will have the votes to make each and every one of those decisions outlined in this article. If the majority wants the name, they get to keep it; if the majority wants all the marketing stuff, they get it; if the majority wants to decide that the default position for each local church is the official UMC position, they get it; if the majority insists that no AC can secede, they get that.

Yes, there "could" be a grand deal struck- and I suppose that some sort of binding rule could be attached to this deal saying that none of the deal could be amended at GC. But how likely is this?

The GC majority will never be able to formulate and determine what the nature of a new off-shoot from the UMC will consist of.

I maintain that the simplest way to untangle this mess is to enhance the newly adopted exit provisions for local churches, provide some type of UMC funding for groups of exiting congregations as start-up funds for a new denomination, and some type of transition agency to handle issues with clergy who decide to leave or are removed because they refuse to follow the rules.

td more than 2 years ago

That last paragraph has it all

Make it a clean, clear exit.

That's going to cause financial issues in some quarters, but that really can't be helped.

The hardest part is figuring out who the leadership of the new group will be. The Traditionalists have spent decades building up their team.

JR more than 2 years ago

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