The UMC at the Crossroads: Elitism or Inclusion – or Holy Love?

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I wish I could optimistic

As a Methodist living in Tampa at the time of the GC2012, I took the week off and volunteered and observed the General Conference. Rather than uplifting, it was disappointing, and most important, dispiriting.

I came away with the sense that the leadership of this body is all about membership numbers, and live in desperate fear of alienating the African Conferences, the only ones growing, without realizing it is this deference to the beliefs of this group that is largely responsible for the slumping numbers in the U.S. and Europe. An African delegate stood and compared homosexuality to bestiality, and was not called out of order by the Bishop presiding at the time. A few minutes later, when an American delegate had the floor and asked that those who felt bullied by such language merely stand, he was ruled out of order.

I don't know the answer, but I'd been a member of one of the larger Methodist Churches here in Tampa for some years, and even taught an adult Sunday School class. My church, while not reconciling had adopted a non-discrimination statement which included sexual orientation. The language taken directly from the Discipline. We then got a new appointment, and this guy is about as homophobic as they come. Without consultation with the Church Council, he removed the statement from the website and all printed materials, and claimed it was a violation of the Discipline.

In typical fashion, the Florida Bishop's response to the complaint that ensued was, 1. The statement did not violate the Discipline; 2. Pastor's can't unilaterally rescind actions taken by a Church Council which do not violate the Discipline; but 3. I'm not going to do anything about any of this, and let the Pastor's actions stand.

So, there's an example of the lack of leadership. And this from a Bishop who gained some notoriety from a sermon in which he proclaimed that we must stop using the Discipline to beat up on LGBT people. So, count me as a "Done," with little hope that there will be anything more than the usual sniping, insults and hurt feelings coming out of the General Conference, further strengthening of the African Conferences, and emboldening of the hard right-wing as a result. This will mean the continued decline of the Methodist Church in North America and Europe, something the IRDC seems to relish.

BJohnM more than 4 years ago

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