The Stakes Are Higher in 2019 than We Thought

Scholarly Essay Examines UMC Constitutional Crisis



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Don’t care

I’m a lifelong lay Methodist, double PK, who has served in local church leadership and followed denominational politics for decades. I have loved the UMC, given much to it, and been blessed by it.
I no longer care about things like “constitutional crises”. Our administrative structure now prevents us from resolving issues about polity and power, so we can refocus on mission and ministry. As we prepare for next year’s GC and the chance to finally decide how to move forward, how does it help us be the church to publish articles undermining the credibility of the whole process? Do Lawrence and Askew have any better alternatives to offer? Does anyone?
Let’s come together next year and make one last attempt to salvage the whole of the UMC, or failing that, to schism in an orderly way, and MOVE FORWARD. Trying to figure out how many Methodists can fit on the head of a Book of Discipline is a waste of time and energy.

Jay Sowell more than 3 years ago

No Surprise

These august professionals merely articulated what discerning UMC members have known all along: various UMC subpopulations do not trust each other, and this entire situation is all about power and control.

Wisely stated: "...Drs. Lawrence and AsKew highlight how we’ve legislated against one another rather than legislating to fulfill the church’s mission."

If we cease legislating against each other, we can move forward as one. The BOD should document our shared commitment towards the Gospel, not legislate against individuals.

Ben more than 3 years ago

What took them so long?

We are in this mess because clergy and Bishops started picking and choosing when they would and would not abide by the current structure--when it comes to the question of sexuality, individual conscience reigns supreme but in other matters it is about following the BOD. I nearly choked when I finally listened to the Judicial Council hearing and Bishop Ough stated that General Conference is the supreme decision making body of the church--if it is then why are we still arguing over sexuality and on the verge of coming apart at the seams? And then somebody else made the inane statement that when it comes to sexuality, the legislative process is not working. The legislative process has worked just fine in answering the question about sexuality. The problem is those that refuse to abide by the decision. And where is the logic in totally redoing the church to accommodate those who refuse to abide by the current structure? I finally realized that there are two words that I can not use in describing the UMC: credibility and confidence. I used to have confidence in the church because it had an air or credibility. No more. I will hang around long enough to see how this plays out--but I sense that we are seeing the last days of The United Methodist Church. But I am hopeful and confident that something good will come out of its demise--we are resurrection people after all.

betsy more than 3 years ago


Under civil law where there are enforcement mechanisms that keep us all in order. Police can make arrests. The courts can administer disciplinary actions and we continue under the rule of law because there is a coercive element that keeps us in check. Without that our base instincts would take over. Our founding fathers saw fit to split the legislative body into two chambers to keep in check a mob rule mentality. Inefficient and frustrating sometimes but effective.
The UMC is a covenant organization bound together by our mutual promises to support each other and abide by the rules. The enforcement mechanisms are practically non-existent and when they are used often produce unsatisfying results and do little to deter further rule breaking. We rely upon trust to make it all work. Trust left the house a long time ago and our polity is breaking down. No surprise there. Now we have various factions organizing to push through one agenda item or another using whatever means are at their disposal; stacking committees, filing charges, public humiliation, blog sites, newsletters, rule breaking, silly constitution changes. Everything becomes a power play and now we are all suspiciously looking at what or who is really behind any proposed changes. The amazing thing is that our UMC Constitution lasted as long as it did.
Reading a 50 page analysis of why we are doing it all wrong would be a pointless waste of time. We are where we are and this bit of UMC theater has to play out to its final act. When that is done there will be plenty of wailing and wondering what would have happened if we had only done this or that. Again, pointless.
I have hope that from the wreckage a new movement will arise. One that will encourage us all.

Kevin more than 3 years ago


Read pp. 49+50. They are worth all UM’s time. Here is the link to the last paragraph on p. 50.

Marilyn Davis more than 3 years ago