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Will the Drivers of The United Methodist Church Take Responsibility?



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Taking Responsibility

Several points in response to Jeremy Smith's article. 1) Yes, there are more, perhaps many more, evangelicals in the church than progressives. This is especially true if we consider the Africans. But let's concentrate on the U.S. for now. These, evangelicals or traditionalists or conservatives or whatever name they might go by, reflect their conservatism in political (as in national politics) as well as in matters of doctrine. In other words statistics show that Methodists trend something like 60-40 Republican over Democrat. 2) This does not translate out into who is dominating the institutional church. That is to say, there is a tremendous gap between the pew and the centers of power. There are no bishops that identify with any of the evangelical caucus groups. There are numerous bishops that identify with progressive causes. There are almost no evangelical staff persons on general boards and agencies. These positions are filled by those who trend progressive. One might comment that there are no Republicans serving with the Board of Church and Society; all are Democrat. In the seminary I attended 88% of the faculty identified as Democrat. There are no seminaries (with perhaps one or two exceptions) that identify as evangelical in theological orientation. There are very few annual conferences where the staff would identify was evangelical. So, how can evangelicals take ownership of the denomination's problems when they have such limited influence. 3. Not that evangelicals covet this power and influence. Contrary to the progressive narrative, evangelicals do not scheme to seize power. Evangelicals tend to be better evangelists than administrators. I have attended 10 general conferences and been a delegate to 5. I have attended 672 annual conferences. For most of that time I have been fully supportive of those in authority. I only asked that they be fair and for the most part they have been (only recently has it been otherwise). 4. I do not buy the argument that evangelicals are the ones breaking unity in the church. Evangelicals have only asked that the church uphold the stated doctrine and moral teachings (including the General Rules) that have been with us since 1784. For this we are labeled divisive? The church, ever since the early 1900s has not convicted anyone of doctrinal heresy, unless one might count Boards of Ordained Ministry for denying ordination to persons who do not use proper inclusive language. 5. In the name of Christian charity and civility it is time to admit that instead of biting and devouring each other, it is better to divide amicably and wish each other God's blessings.

Riley B Case more than 1 year ago

after reading John Wesley's writings

I realized that very little of the UMC has been truly Methodist for a very long time.Both progressives and conservatives work from a partial understanding of who John Wesley was and what he really did. The UMC is where it is because its predecessor denominations lost Methodism's distinctive message and method long before the UMC came into existence. In fact by the time the UMC came into existence in 1968, it was nothing more than an ill conceived experiment in theological plurality that is now failing spectacularly. And I am done with the whole mess. There is no unity when everybody is talking past each other because everybody is coming at this from completely different understandings about everything. We may all express a belief in God; but we have very different understandings about who God is and what he intended when he created the earth and everything in it.

betsy more than 1 year ago

Done with the whole mess.... Betsy

Thanks Betsy for yet another helpful message. I also am done with the whole UMC mess. Organized religion in general has become very disappointing. My biggest regret is my not being able to see clearly what was happening. I am bitter because of my misplaced trust in UMC leadership at all levels. It is to some degree my own fault. I have learned a lesson.

Doug more than 1 year ago

Perspective of a once-Methodist

I speak as a 40yo baptized Methodist— raided with a choir director mother and active family participation until I was 12 or 13- and then I could bear it no more. And it was not the “uncoolness” of church that leads teens astray. But it was the rhetoric, you see. And our church (long since closed and sold in St. Louis) was not particularly political. But, coming of age in the 90s it was the lack of inclusivity. The idea that God created everyone and everything- had a divine plan for it all and that. All could reach salvation— except for certain people, for things they could not help— it truthfully tore down, brick by brick, the faith is been raised to have. It still does- the thought that such a God could exist is unfathomable to me.

And I, by no means, which to criticize either side. People believe what they do, and I hold no ill will, but as most Christian denominations hold faith and the sharing of that faith and its spread in so much regard, maybe it should be understood that lack of inclusivity not only pushes people away from the Church itself, but can shatter ones faith in God so completely. Having been raised and still living in MO, Christianity feels like, from the outside looking in, so much more radical and harsh now than it did when I was a child. The rhetoric is often very political and hateful as the culture war wages on.

And it makes me wonder how any denomination can feel like it was worth it. Is it truly worth, on EITHER side being “right” and taking over politics and the media and the movement when the end result is that it not only turns many away from church participation but forces them to question “how could a God that is supposed to love all his children hate so many of them at the same time. How could hate, greed, selfishness, rage and rhetoric be is instruction? If this is what is what Christians are saying is the word of God, then the word must be a lie.”

I cannot say that my faith can ever be restored- but certainly there’s no hope for it while the vast majority of denominations—
Including the one in which I was raised support separation and punishment over inclusivity, love and understanding.

Laura Grate more than 1 year ago

"Who do I have to hate?"

Sadly, it's so much easier to point a finger of blame at someone/anyone/everyone else for problems rather than look at your hand when you point the finger and realize the rest of your fingers are pointing at the problem-you! The song by Bret Martin; "Who do I have to hate?" graphically makes this clear. E.G. 'who do I have to hate to be your friend? when are we going to see that 'us' is "them",, unforgiveness is the prison we're all living in, who do I have to hate to be your friend?"
Choosing to exist in that 'either/or', 'right/wrong', 'left/right', 'good/evil', 'black/white' world assures that nothing will change; it's always someone else's fault resulting in a hopeless, bleak, angry outlook. How utterly sad!

w.f. f meiklejohn more than 1 year ago