The Peril of All These Secret Meetings



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Why am I not cool enough?

I don't assume they're there to preserve the denomination. It's very possible that they're there to begin building a new church altogether. My beef: I worked and sacrificed a lot for my Membership in Full Connection and I earned the vote that comes with it. That is being disregarded and I find it deeply offensive. Finally, to the organizers dismay I assume, when you Google UMNext, this is the first Methodist article to appear. So their good intentions are being undermined by their poor ethics. Sorry church, perhaps this is the best we can do.

Christopher more than 2 years ago

All Methodist members are stakeholders

It is an affront to all Methodists across the globe, that a meeting to discuss the future is closed and opened to only a few "stakeholders". I tell you, we are all stakeholders, no matter how lofty some consider themselves nor how many are in the congregations. That is insulting and certainly not anything that Jesus would condone, in my opinion. Jesus always pointed to the least of these... Some have become so enamoured with themselves and their position, that they think they have a right to make a decison for all involved in secret. No wonder folks are leaving in droves, it is decades past the time the Methodist leadership stop trying to impose their opinion on those, who they deem "lesser" than they. It is broken, time to separate before it all the good those before us have sacrificed for those today. I am a 4th generation Methodist, but the line may stop with me if the leadership insists that together is the way. A lesson in humility and love is way past due for us all.

Tracy more than 2 years ago

Secret meeting

Our US Constitution was drafted in a closed meeting. That worked out well. But the meeting was chaired by the most trusted man in America so there was that.

Kevin more than 2 years ago

Closed Meetings are the Devil's Playground

The problem with the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 is there were NO records kept of this SECRET meeting. Furthermore, the official purpose of the called meeting was NOT to draft a Constitution but to revise the existing Articles of Confederation. There were players who had greater ambitions and agendas and used the convention as a pretext to get delegates sent. The delegates sent by the states had no official authority granted to them by their legislators to draft and pass a Constitution. In other words some things never change. The Commission on the Way Forward met in secret, the members are bound by confidentiality agreements not to divulge particulars, the bishops TOOK OVER the proceedings and instructed the members what plans would be considered and what would be excluded. The Judicial Council ruled (after the fact) that the bishops had no authority to dictate to the CWF what plans they could consider or decide. Our UMC polity says we should be transparent in our meetings and discussions. When you close the door darkness envelopes a room. One cannot do anything in darkness that God will not bring to light. The entire process was disingenuous and was destined for failure.

CWB more than 2 years ago

Wow! Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

You nailed it, Ms. Editor! Secret meetings destroy our trust and accomplish nothing if we are waiting outside anyway to debate whatever the big-shots decided. I can add no more to your assessment. I’m going on break.

Reese more than 2 years ago

Your DISRUPTIONS point is well taken, but to fix it is just too easy!!!

If disruptions by rowdies be the reason for the closure, then a closed circuit TV or pod-cast to another room is just too easy. That way, all can see and hear what is going on, but disruptions are eliminated. Further, as with my own experience in public service, a time can be set aside up front for public comment, 3-minute limit, after which the public speaks no more. However, excluding the legitimate press is ALWAYS unforgivable and smacks of sinister motives! Excluding um-insight could NEVER have a valid excuse!

Reese more than 2 years ago

Easy to see

After witnessing the disruptive behavior going on in the balcony at GC, I am sure these leaders would expect the same if their meetings were publicly held. Not saying it's good to have meetings without input from others, but those who disrupted GC have no basis to complain that these people want to be shielded from such behavior.

Dave more than 2 years ago

I believe in open meetings

But the concept was abused when it resulted in progressives being allowed to continually disrupt official decision-making gatherings. So from that perspective I am glad for the closed doors; people can seriously talk without disruption. Hopefully these are our best minds getting together to hash things out; and it is probably helpful that many of those talking are leaders of the ad hoc groups rather than official denominational leadership. I am more confident these groups will come up with a more reasonable solution than those that involve denominational leadership who have too much of themselves vested in the survival of the denomination. The biggest problem with the Way Forward process was the way the Bishops manipulated the outcome rather than trusting the commission do its job as it saw best.

betsy more than 2 years ago


Is the UMC-Next gathering going to be close to press? You seem to suggest that but never actually say. It also seems odd, at best, to describe a widely-publicized gathering of 500+ people as "clandestine."

Steven Smith more than 2 years ago

Closed meeting

After requesting permission to attend the "UMC-Next" meeting, we were told the meeting will be by "invitation only" and that the press would not be included. This information came from one of the organizers. We regret that was not made clear.

John Astle (United Methodist Insight) more than 2 years ago

secret meetings with the Ruskies...

... have sparked a HUGE trust issue in Washington, D.C.
I would gently remind us all that our Bishops--even our African Bishops!--are Bishops of the *whole* church, not just of a given geography where they are in residence.
Being Bishops of the *whole* church means that you have not *sold out* to a tiny faction of malicious extremists that is doing very well (thank you, Jesus!) at destroying the connectional superstructure of this denomination.
But if you *have* sold out--even with the best of intentions to protect and defend *your* interpretation of a few lines of scripture, and even if that means taking down the temple of global United Methodism--then of course you need to meet *secretly* with the movers and shakers who have made our temple *very" wobbly as of late.
And then, just to provide visual evidence of exactly where they stand (and, just to be clear, it's NOT as Bishops of the whole church, IMHO), some of these African Bishops (plus their one token Caucasian Bishop) have the temerity to have their picture taken with the malicious extremists after their *secret meeting*.
I guess it's something like celebrating being in the 'winners' circle' for now.
But I imagine ash the tenor of their *secret meeting* was more like, "Well, what do we do NOW? With all this blowback and major cracks in the pillars of the temple?"
Or as Colin Powell famously said about Iraq: "You break it, you own it!"
Now those guys got to own what they broke.
I bet they would just love to get invited to the White House to have a photo op with you-khow-who. Like the Ruskies in the Oval Office.
For the record, here are the names of the malicious extremists who made the impending breakup happen: the Reverends Tom Lambrecht, Maxie Dunham, and Keith Boyette, plus Mark Tooley and Patricia Miller. see

Wayne more than 2 years ago

secret meetings

The groups meeting secretly are adhoc groups consisting of people from all sides of the divide. They do not qualify as a quorum for any official UMC leadership group and have the right to assemble with whom they wish when they wish to do so. They have a better chance to come up with a real way forward than our bishops.
As for the bishops who cares if they meet behind closed doors? They have proven to be ineffective leaders and have a very diminished role to play.
The One Church Plan was the real peril to The UMC. These "secret" meetings may produce some fruitful initiatives.

Kevin more than 2 years ago


Hi Kevin,

I don't know that the OCP was the real peril, but from what I've read the process to get there was a pretty big problem.

And in a truly fundamentalist way, the 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' push for the Traditionalist Plan was equally problematic.

In the UMC structure, the Bishops are (for better or worse) not a particularly powerful group - their reach is very limited. Other denominations have differing power structures; expecting the UMC Bishops to have the same power as Catholic or even Episcopalian ones isn't reality.

I'm not wholly against 'secret' meetings, as it's very hard to get consensus on items if you don't narrow the field a bit. I just would like a lot more information about what is being discussed and what the sticking points are - whether I decide to remain a methodist is in the balance here, and if I disagree with the direction or timeline, my decision would be easier.

JR more than 2 years ago

Speaking of secret meetings

you can add this one to the list:

JR more than 2 years ago