Has the Methodist Middle Collapsed – Or Is It Awakening?



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I finally understand

That after a lifetime of being a good, church-supporting Methodist/United Methodist, all a Bishop thinks of me is that I am some extremist "radical" that is tearing the church apart. That seems to be the thinking of much of denominational leadership post GC2019. Funny thing is, it was growing up in the Methodist/United Methodist Church that formed my traditionalist/classical understanding of Christianity. Of course, the church ultimately left me so broken, lost and confused, I finally had to distance myself from it and go in search of a clearer understanding of traditional/classical Christianity. While my local church was chasing down a rabbit trail of relevancy that just about broke it, I was learning the power and relevancy of traditional/classical Christianity for right here and right now. I am no longer surprised that people are not choosing to become United Methodists, including my three adult children who also grew up in the local UMC. When they do attend at holidays they wonder what happened to the church they grew up in and can't understand what the church currently occupying the premises is all about. Neither can I.

betsy more than 2 years ago


"... a Bishop thinks of me is that I am some extremist "radical" that is tearing the church apart..."

You act like that position by the Bishop is outrageous, but everything you write here reveals the truth of it. It appears to me the Bishop is merely providing a reasoned analysis. You're acting like that guy in Casablanca" who tells Rick, "I'm shocked, shocked, that there's gambling going on here."

George Nixon Shuler more than 2 years ago


Of course, to a self-proclaimed "secularist" (see your own comment below) anything remotely bespeaking a Christian worldview is deemed "radical."

John more than 2 years ago

No Middle

Bishop Coyner, you were and continue to be part of the problem. You and your colleagues let the extreme left defy the Discipline with no consequences. When the Methodist leaders, including you, decided to let Reconciling Ministries Network take over and try to sway the masses. There is no middle and I am angry and resent that several leaders do not understand why we just don't look the other way and just do as society does, everybody can do what they want and there is no sin. I agree with others that enough harm has been done, and the worst thing that could happen is to think we can continue as we have. I

Do the research yourself:

It was no accident, but a very organized concerted effort to indoctrinate people. Money and funding, unfortunately, persuaded some to ignore and try to rewrite the Bible, you know, because God didn’t really mean that for 21st century people. I urge everyone to follow the timeline and you will see how we got to this impasse. Time to decide where you stand and know this cannot continue without a separation and branching into two ministries or no one will be able to effectively do ministry at all. I have certainly been guilty of not paying enough attention to what is going on in our United Methodists churches and conferences and the propaganda that is being promoted and put out there. I urge everyone to realize that there is not a way together, but we can and must stop harming each other and let the healing begin. We cannot continue to be so vicious to one another. Be silent no more, traditionalists pay attention to what is happening in the Methodist Church. Doctrinally speaking, our Methodist discipline foundation is very firm and directly from the Bible, God’s Word. (I am speaking to myself and those in my conference and church, who were led to believe that it doesn’t “really” affect us what another far liberal conference or church is doing.) Yes, it most certainly does impact our ministry! We must always show compassion and love for all, but not vitiate our beliefs and dishonor the many saints who sacrificed on our behalf, so that we may have the church today.

Tracy more than 2 years ago

Methodist middle

The behavior of the so called centrists after GC 2019 revealed the reality that there was no Methodist middle. It was simply a group who were willing to tolerate a few traditionalists here and there as long as they did not impede the progressive agenda. Now that progressives who have pledged to defy the rules can see that they will not be treated lightly by our accountability processes they are beginning to talk about a split. The upcoming split is the reform of The UMC. Bishop Coyner should play a round or two of golf. Maybe go fishing. He was part of the leadership that got us to this point now it is up to the members to clean up his mess. We got this.

Kevin more than 2 years ago

Too late for compromise

The only option which both the secularists and the traditionalists can agree onis a complete split. It is the only thing that makes sense given how far the UMC leadership has let us slide from being an evangelical denomination to a secular group of social justice activists.An Openly lesbian bishop is the straw that broke the camel”s back. The Traditional Plan was the only hope to compromise given how far to the left the church had slid.

Steve more than 2 years ago

Not the Traditional Plan

And not the OCP, but the Connectional Conference Plan was the only hope for continued good works without clashing.

That was deemed 'too complicated' and cast aside, and yet we seem to be barrelling into that plan now - as the Traditionalists didn't expect quite so much backlash from the 'unity first' side of the Church.

I'm personally very frustrated that it's come to this. Had the Powers That Be really thought this through, we could be well on our way to sorting out according to our specifics without all this turmoil.

JR more than 2 years ago

The level of sorting within conferences may be an issue.

I think you will find that our ability or maybe more appropriately, our will to sort within conferences is very limited. We have the ability to sort by conference. We'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous more than 2 years ago

Hard to say

Where I live there are easily 5 UMC churches in a 5 mile radius. Probably 25 in a 10 mile radius. So it shouldn't be hard here to work it through - if there are 3 options for outcome (Trad, Prog, Mid), then each church would need to decide where it wants to go - with some additional guidance from the superintendent - if you have 2 50/50 split congregations in adjacent areas, maybe one goes Trad and the other Prog, or maybe not.

In areas where there is only one UMC is where it gets more challenging, admittedly.

JR more than 2 years ago

It will be interesting.

I'm not concerned that it's not technically possible. We will have a lot of conferences that are overwhelmingly either traditionalists or progressive. How will they handle disaffiliating churches? The annual conference will have to approve. It will be contrary to their interests to let a 70% church leave. Better to take the 30% and property and build up a new membership.

Then we will have conferences that are roughly equal. The side that barely wins the vote won't have to come up with the 66% of the individual church. I could see a lot of disputes and significantly weaker conference as a result.

I don't think the conferences where there is a clear and overwhelmingly majority one way or the other will be very generous. It's definitely not in the conference's preachers to allow churches to depart. It may be better to do the sorting by annual conference but not allow disaffiliation within the conference. I'm not sure of what the best course would be.

Anonymous more than 2 years ago

Compromise? Are you kidding me?

Compromise is the problem, not the solution. Either you believe the Word of God or you do not. An old axiom states that "a house divided cannot stand." You cannot have hard core fundamentalists and progressive church members in the same house. There will always be anger and animosity between the groups. There have been church splits before and there will be church splits in the future. This may be the time to do it in our church right now. Conservative Methodists believe that homosexuality is a sin, transgenderism is sin, and that same sex marriage is sinful. The progressives don't believe any of that. How in the world, short of Christ's coming, are you going to reconcile these two groups. I believe that one group or the other will prevail and the the other group will move off, either with their churches or without but they should leave. I already know some who have left the church over this issue and become Baptists or Evangelicals in the true sense of the word. Be prepared, because division is coming.

R.A. Naylo more than 2 years ago

The pendulum has swung to far left

Only the traditional plan would/will move us back closer to Center. The connectional Plan was still too liberal and allowed for liberal, secular pastors as well as it did not provide accountability to those who broke their pastoral oath to uphold the BoD. I do agree that our leadership let us down, seeking unity over truth and accountability.

Steve more than 2 years ago

I disagree

With the Traditionalist Plan, you might feel like you move towards the center, but that's because the other side is going to (potentially) leave. You'll be the center by default, but still far to one side of where the center is now.

Connectional Plan allows for multiple centers - each can coalesce around their central point. For the Traditionalist and Progressive sides, those points are fairly well defined - I don't know where any moderates are going to find their center, though. Perhaps they'll be a OCP type, where there's no direct push for either acceptance or denial of LGBTQ (among other issues). I think that position would be pretty precarious though.

You don't seem to understand that the Connectional plan would have independent power structures and pastoral appointments - without approval, there wouldn't be switching of pastors or bishops among the groups. Each would be specific to the unit, so we'd have parallel church structures. That duplication wouldn't necessarily be more costly, as we'd have geographic overlay. I would expect that the administrative powers in those overlays would at least communicate with each other - it would make little sense for them both to try to plant a church in the same place at the same time if the population could only support one, and likewise collaboration on mission work etc could be very beneficial.

JR more than 2 years ago

No, I understand

If we have a structure that allows one secular, liberal church or pastor to operate under the UMC name, then that plan is too liberal. The connectional Plan would have allowed,for example, Bishop Oliveto to remain in place asan UMC leader. For a Traditionalist such as myself that is unacceptable under any plan.

We have gone so far to the left with our policies, practices, theology,, pastors, etc the Traditionalist Plan still leaves us to the left of Center. The Traditionalist Plan is a good first step but we have a long way to go to get the denomination back to a God first denomination.

Steve more than 2 years ago

The Issue is NOT Bishop Oliveto

Bishop Karen Oliveto is not the "straw that broke the camel's back," my friends. Why does anyone really care about what a person does in the privacy of their home? Do you ask your friends what they do in their bedrooms when the curtains are closed? No, of course not. Did the Methodist Church care who my husband married back in the 1960s? No. The problem arose much later when suddenly the UMC, which includes areas of the world that are new to the Bible and take it literally. This intensified the right wing that prior to the late 1960s had only included our states in the deep south. Now we include nations in Africa, very new to the Bible. We include the Philippines, also, new to the Bible. If the UMC were to revert to the Methodist Church in the US and perhaps northern Europe, which is disinterested in church or the Scandinavian Nations that are progressive perhaps the church would grow, slightly. However you "slice and dice it," young people are not interested in going to church, they are too busy working and raising families if they even choose to have children. Pews are empty in the UMC, Presbyterian, Baptist (except Southern Baptist Churches that offer entertainment) Lutheran and Episcopal Churches. No one wants to hear what is spouted from pulpits. I never did, and now I am not alone.
Bishop Karen Oliveto is one of many bishops who are gay, lesbian or transgender, some are "out" and others just never mention their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Carla and Robert Skidmore more than 2 years ago

For me, it was the straw that broke the camul’s back

I haven’ been to church, nor given to my church since she was appointed as a bishop. I won’t go back to church or give money to the church until every secularist is removed from a pastoral or other leadership position.

Leaders must lead by example and only those individuals who are prepared to preach from the pulpit that LGBT behavior is a sin and marriage is only between a man and a woman are qualified to be in any UMC leadership role.

The Traditionalist Plan is a good first step towards weeding out the secularists from the UMC. Remember it is called The Book of Discipline not the Book of Social Justice. Our headers have withheld the discipline for far too long. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Steve more than 2 years ago


"The Traditionalist Plan is a good first step towards weeding out the secularists from the UMC"

So now it's time for a purge? Not gonna happen. We are going to stay and fight about this until we win and there is not a thing you can do to stop us.

George Nixon Shuler more than 2 years ago

You are right . . .

"there is not a thing you can do to stop us." I am not a expert on UMC law but right off I can think of 4 things the UMC can do to stop you secularists. I hope it won't come to us having to implement any of those actions. I hope and pray that cooler, more reasonable heads than you will prevail and we can have a orderly and Amicable split. A purge of you secularists is an option but not one of the best options.

Steve more than 2 years ago