Digging Deeper

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Connecting the dots

So let me get this straight: the theory is that the agency formerly headed by Melvin Talbert "has long been a bastion of conservative theology" and that Rev. Bias was pressured out by the same board of directors that passed the pro-gay-funding petition (it was the board, NOT the staff) and is headed by a Harvard-Divinity-School-educated Western Jurisdiction bishop?

John Lomperis more than 6 years ago

Not so sure

When Tim Bias was a candidate for the episcopacy in the NCJ (i think it was 2004) he was decidedly anti-gay and committed to church trials for performing gay marriages or against gay clergy. That he would go from that stance to resigning over the possibility you raise in 10 years seems really unlikely.

It could merely be that he's a guy who jumps from job to job pretty quickly. His departure from Illinois Great Rivers certainly seemed abrupt and unexplained. Further, he's never struck me as a spiritual formation guru. It could be that the honor of being a general secretary caused him to jump into a position for a topic that didn't really interest him.

2 years is a remarkably short tenure for a GS and it certainly puts the agency behind the eight ball heading into general conference. It's hard to think someone would just drop an executive assignment only to wait in Ohio until an appointment in July unless there was some cause. But sudden departures have been a part of his career history. I can't see his advocacy for ministry with LGBT persons would be so passionate that he'd resign over the ministry's blockage - given what he was saying in 2004.

huh more than 6 years ago

I don't know about that

10 years is almost a lifetime when considering changing positions on religio-political issues. Take Ohio's Senator Rob Portman - a nominal establishment Republican, six years ago he talked the talk and walked the walk when it came to his seeking support of Ohio-based Religious Right apparatchiks. But then his own son came out as gay. Now, Portman supports gay marriage and civil rights, but on other issues his positions are more or less unchanged. Of course, he is facing a spirited challenge from the progressive former Ohio Governor and Methodist pastor Ted Strickland next fall, so....well, in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Presidential elections, the Republican nominees got respectively 27, 25, and 23% of the LGBT vote. And with his son at his side on the campaign trail Portman may hold on even if the Buckeye State goes blue at the presidential level. But what changed? The personal contact and relationship, that's what. We still have a lot of rural and suburban folk who think they don't know any LGBTs. But when they find out somebody they already love or like, they reassess. We don't know if this guy did that, or what, but that's what happened to Portman.

BTW, Cynthia, very excellent reporting and writing here. This is not a Woodward and Bernstein thing but it's as close as it gets about a Methodist mystery of intrigue in our top echelons. Thanks for a bang up job.

George Nixon Shuler more than 6 years ago

Thank you!

Thanks for your assessment, George!

cynthiaadmin (United Methodist Insight) more than 6 years ago