Time to Get Under the Hood

The United Methodist System Needs a New Engine



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Car engines however are not subject to virii generally

The United Methodist Church has been a victim of a parasitic infection of right -wing extremists who want to make us like other fundamentalist bodies and advocate hatred like they do. The right-wing organizing in groups like Good News, WCA, et al, is akin to a viral infection. These extremists are fighting with money, marbles, and chalk to take over the UMC and oppose our historic commitment to justice. For engine repair we need to flush out the extremists and go on without them. Hatred only makes engines run in reverse.

George Nixon Shuler more than 2 years ago

Time to Get Under the Hood

Thank you Rev. Jarrell for your thoughts on how the UMC “engine” should be overhauled. I agree with your three principles for getting back to the basics of our properly stated mission as a community of Christians. Given what you have said about systems and their man-made objectives, it is difficult to visualize a process within the existing church that can rebuild our connectional “engine.” Since you have clearly thought deeply about the options available to this year’s special General Conference, do you have an opinion on the best of the alternative plans?

Jack Ham more than 2 years ago

Answering Jack

I plan on writing that answer next week. I hope to see it here on this site but if not, I’ll post in the comments where you find the answer.

Michael Jarrell more than 2 years ago

Excellent analogy except...

Several years ago, I got online and started cruising the current understanding of "this is what we believe" and was overwhelmed by the minutia. I have also spent several years listening to every voice I could find within the UMC and was stunned to discover that the church was drowning in theological plurality--which is where your engine analogy falls apart because the UMC is currently being driven by multiple forces each trying to take the church in multiple directions all at the same time.

I have several older disciplines from 1896, through 1926. They all measure 4 1/2" x 6". However, the one from 1894 is 380 pages including an index, the one from 1926 is 900+ pages plus an index. It is very clear that each Discipline belonged to one of my maternal ancestors. Interesting thing is, although my mother was born in 1923, she never had one. My point is things seemed to go better when the denomination put everybody in possession of a Discipline that clearly and succinctly stated this is who we are and this is what we believe and this is how we operate. There is absolutely no way to do that now. I have gone on the internet and cruised through "this is what we believe" and was overwhelmed with the minutia that did absolutely nothing to help me understand what it meant for me, as an individual, to wake up each morning and live my life as God's immortal. After a lifetime of being a good, loyal "church going Methodist/United Methodist" God no longer hangs over my life as an unanswered question because I finally wandered off and discovered the existence of a God who is truly worth worshiping, the triune God of holy love who loves even me more than I could ever think about loving myself; a God who is most definitely not confused about what he intended when he created humans as two distinct genders.

betsy more than 2 years ago


I drove my parents car to Tallahassee. The engine light went on. I thought it best to drive to Monticello. Bad idea. When the oil engine light comes on, you stop.

Every generation has to learn the lessons again.

Anonymous more than 2 years ago