An Open Letter to United Methodists




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No Money for Bigotry

Personally, I have given no money at all to the church since 1985. I will give no money to the church, and will implore anyone to withhold money or support of any kind for as long as the UMC remains committed to the institutionalized oppression and condemnation of lesbians and gays. You want to know why people are fleeing the church? Because for all its sanctimony, the church has turned its back on the plain teachings of Jesus in support of the Pharisees.

I have heard it said that the fastest growing faction in the church are those who support the current exclusionist and condemnatory position entrenched in the Discipline. That may be so. It is reasonable that the intolerant should flock to an institution that continues to pander to their intolerance. But is that growth enough to offset the diminishing membership and the financial support that goes with it?

I have heard it said as well that lesbian and gay issues of equality are side issues unworthy of our attention or discussion, that the denomination has its position and that no further discussion is warranted where this takes away from the true mission of the church. On the contrary, I believe that how it regards its lesbian and gay members and prospective members is central to the mission of the church.

My first pastor was the Rev. Dr. Emerson Colaw. In 1983, he wrote, "...No group has more rights than those assured to the least minority. And if society can take away the rights of the gay and lesbian, then they can take away your rights and mine. We do assure them (homosexual people) of our commitment to their civil rights, and an openness to dialogue as we search for the mind of Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit."

Paul taught that slaves should obey their masters and that women should be subservient to men. It is also in Paul, and not the teachings of Jesus, that the only New Testament message concerning homosexuality occurs. Yet those who justify their condemnation of homosexuality upon scripture as immutable truth have learned to reject slavery and embrace the equality of the sexes.

But until they can do the same for lesbians and gays, then it will be as if they never had bothered to. There is no goodwill toward reconciliation. There is no opening of the heart to the Holy Spirit. There is only a body chained to the millstone of its own sanctimonious bigotry, sinking into the miry clay. I cannot say I will be sorry to see it go.

Daniel more than 9 years ago


"Money is the fuel that powers our denomination," blogger writes. what? not Jesus Christ?]

This could be a problem?

michael mckee more than 9 years ago

Autonomous churches

Yap Kim said: The leadership of UMC in the next four years will have to consider whether it is advisable and feasible to have a global church in the kind of world in which we are in. It may be wise to re-visit the drive towards autonomy of the Central Conferences as was envisaged by the mission policy of 1968.

If this happens, then the SEJ and SCJ will lose control (because they will lose other votes) and the UMC in the US will become the open and inclusive church Wesley once envisioned.

Anne Ewing more than 9 years ago

My response - a correction

Andy -- I reread Outler's speech to the 1968 Uniting Conference. I can't find a thing in the text that resembles your report.

Outler celebrated the new structure, saying, "One thing is for sure: what has served till now as our status quo ante will simply not suffice for the upcoming future. . . . Frontiersmen for tomorrow must be as dynamically adaptive to the new 'new world' as our forefathers were in theirs." (1968 DCA pages 133-135)

Nowhere in the three-page DCA text does Outler speak "against the general church organization we now have."

You accuse the general agencies of doing nothing?

Path One has created 610 new churches in the past four years -- 12 new churches per month. They will reach 650 by 2013.

General agencies coordinated an effort to end malaria in Africa. They raised $20.2 million and cut the number of deaths by half.

You could probably write a book about how missionaries around the world are changing lives.

It's easy to accuse general agencies of operating in silos, but it would help if you checked the facts. They are cooperating in hundreds of ways and they are resourcing churches around the world.

I see you now want to cripple these efforts by urging churches to withhold the 2 cents of every dollar that goes to the general church.

Rich Peck

Rich Peck more than 9 years ago

Achurch in self flagellation

Giving is an almost crazy thing we do as United Methodists. We sacrifice on other things to spend for things in the priority of God's church, what takes precedence over other things. In the Philippines thst notion assumes greater sacrifices as income have shrunk while costs of living is climbing high as well as unemployment. The church is powered not by money but those who love it so much for Jesus' cause that they endure near limitless time to put in what they can do for it with the best of their capacities. We have volunteer teachers for church schools, feeding programs community church extension ministries. We will even have volunteer communications staff at the coming Central Conference session in December. Hopefully they will share written inputs beyond that occasion to talk and record other continuing relevant things anf events that will happen in the life and ministry of churches and leaders. We areengaged in self flagellation with this talk about what is wrong at top level rather than every part contributing to ministries at grassroots Christian ministries. It can't be so simple as blaming general agencies. So common to hear that from bishops. And not exactly right. If we use monitoring money trail for spending, even bishops on top who we evaluate with little function at grassroots church ministries might be fit to do away with like top level agebcies that do not empower the local church constituency but bishops are presidents of these agencies. They should take accountability if those agencies. Stray from seeing what they should to be meaningful to church ministries that touch communities. Finding out what's wrong isn't the sae as doing what we need to keep doing at local church level so tha real live disciples are at hand to share their faith in witnessing and service. Let's count how many lay speakers we get on the way doing that and monitor what they've done as the Discipline provides. That can be done without counting money.

Earl Canlas more than 9 years ago

Comments on an Open Letter to United Methodists

I do recognize that problems on governance and finance and other unknown factors could have created significant barriers to the advancement of the objectives of the UMC. But as a lay member of the UMC , can we just ponder on these bible reading wherein money wasn't the answer to healing and new life.?

Acts 3:6 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for Money..Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said,
“Look at us!.”So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I Do Not Have, but what I have I give you . In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.

Ray R Marcuelo more than 9 years ago

general agencies of the UMC

I was expecting the 2012 general conference will finally simplify our general church agencies and consequently reduce our general church expenses. We have become so focused on our general boards and agencies, where most of our church funds are absorbed by these general church agencies. Nothing is left for our annual conference programs and also our district and local churches' programs.

jnriingen more than 9 years ago

Global Church?

Andy Langford in his Open Letter has expressed his sadness of the dysfunction of UMC. He made this observation: "Since 1968, the United Methodist Church in the United States has been in decline."

It was in the year of 1968 that the then Board of Mission in advancing the policy of establishing autonomous Methodist churches after years of study and holy conferencing that the General Conference voted to grant the status of affiliated autonomous church to the Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore and I was elected by my church to be the Bishop.

In the next decade following 1968 all the Methodist Churches in Latin America and Caribbean and Asia with the sole exception of the Philippines achieved autonomy It was expected then that the African Central Conference would follow the same road to autonomy. Just as much history has shown that British Methodism granted autonomy to US Methodism, this ought to be the mission policy of US Methodist too.

It was being criticized then that autonomy destroyed the international nature of the church, But those of us who have assumed the autonomous status had a different view. We see it as a natural development to develop our own mission and service within our own distinctive national context. We form our own structure of boards and agencies to advance our ministry.

Langford indicated the problem of a global UMC in terms of governance and finance. The different national context of the Methodist mission demands different responses. At the present time there is a discrepancy when the membership of US Methodism is declining and that of the African churches is increasing rapidly. The different historical and cultural contexts cannot address the issue of decline and increase of membership. Rightly so, the Central Conferences cannot participate meaningfully to the issues facing the churches in the United States and vice versa.

The financial support for the present structure is not only challenging but it is also a problem of stewardship of resources. We can only tackle a limited number of global issues and much of it are national and local issues that need to be addressed. Finances are directed to maintain global structures of administration instead of furthering the mission of vital local congregations.
Local churches have received the wake-up call and will not be convinced that the aportionments will advance the work of local mission.

If the Call to Action was rejected by GC2012 what can one expect when it is presented again in some form in the next General Conference. To compound the problem it is also expected to deal with the proposals of The Worldwide Nature of the Church!

The leadership of UMC in the next four years will have to consider whether it is advisable and feasible to have a global church in the kind of world in which we are in. It may be wise to re-visit the drive towards autonomy of the Central Conferences as was envisaged by the mission policy of 1968.

Yap Kim Hao more than 9 years ago


How much did the Connectional Table actually spend to create such an un-churchlike power center of a proposal? Counting consultants, in-house time, printing, etc? It must have been more than $2,000,000. Let's not try to do that again.

Anne Ewing more than 9 years ago


Andy Langford wrote:
our church needs passionate laity and clergy at the local level to be advocates for fundamental change, in order that our denomination might fulfill the call from Jesus Christ to make disciples for the transformation of the world. No doubt, these advocates would include pastors from our leading congregations. In addition, members of the Council of Bishops, perhaps in conversation with the Connectional Table, are needed to join in the discussion and guide us toward clarity and wisdom.

Weren't you listening? We just rejected this particular power arrangement.

A couple of lines later, you wrote: "Money is the fuel that powers our denomination."

That sounds much more like JPMorgan Chase than a church. What about prayer, dedication, human effort and caring, offering the Grace of God to all?

Good heavens.

Anne Ewing more than 9 years ago