Fault Lines in United Methodism

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fault lines

Paul Scherer wisely observed that one's point of view is determined by one's point of viewing. These reflections, authored by gifted and faithful children of Wesley, mix needed insights with a curious default setting committed to 'rounding up the usual suspects,' stereotype, and a glacial unwillingness or inability to face the attitude of denial that led the UMC to this moment. Yes: the UMC in the USA is dying. Is homophobia the hill the church on which the church has decided to die? Ask the Western Jurisdiction, the most rapidly declining region of the UMC where existing church teaching on homosexual weddings-clergy is ignored. And to be clear, more conservative regions, while in slower decline, are nonetheless in decline. The causes(s) are beyond any one issue. I read no empathy to the challenges faced by the African church, where each year some among them literally are martyred for the faith (48 in January of 2018 alone). Someone needs to unpack the textbook case of institutional leadership denial at work in the Council of Bishops in assuming that the same delegates who clearly rejected OCP directions in 2016 would flip. Recall roughly 40 delegates, nearly all from Africa, could not be at the GC due to visa issues; had they arrived the vote would have veered more toward 55-45%, not a supermajority but not close. Conservatives also have denial at work; a clear majority of US delegates preferred the OCP. The implications are profound, but not yet clear. GC2020 can lead to trench warfare that spiritually would render memories of Verdun or the Somme as park picnics, or a decisive and visionary conference committed to birthing two visions of the Wesleyan way in the 21st century, respectful and collaborative, with name-calling and invective stored in the locker room of Hell from which such attitudes emerge. One can hope...

Bob more than 2 years ago


There appears to be a surprising backlash in areas where one would expect the WCA to have considerable strength. While I understand that currently we are a global Church, it is becoming apparent that this connection is fraying and that conferences will soon begin to peel away. The Bishops may be able to contain 1-2 conferences but once whole jurisdictions leave the US power will go away. And maybe this is a good thing. Maybe it is time to allow Methodism to grow in its own way in our partner countries. I just hope for a more moderate option to come to birth soon. This situation is not tenable. One thing I have found interesting as people have openly discussed a US based denomination open to all our conservative peers have suddenly become fearful of the a more liberal church not being engaged with their power base. Why?

Eric more than 2 years ago

Why indeed?

Most conservative Wesleyans aren't that interested in a US based denomination. It seems that it's conservatives more than liberals who are comfortable with the increasingly global nature of the church. There's a pentecostal/charismatic leaning among the fast-growing regions of the Global South that is uncomfortable to the rapidly aging, mostly caucasian, old-line, mainline North American context. And the church is growing in areas that aren't predominantly shaped by an increasingly irrelevant modernist, Euro-centric, Enlightenment-rooted epistemology. The liberal church, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly culture- and time-bound, and thus increasingly ill-equipped to engage in effective missional ministry and evangelize the world.

John more than 2 years ago

Re the continual rejection of study commisions

who endorse full inclusion: Then why do you keep expecting something different to happen, especially given the meteoric numerical rise of Africa and the numerical decline in America, especially the Western Jurisdiction?

betsy more than 2 years ago