March 13, 2013

Is There a Revolving Door Between UMC Denominational Agencies and Destructive Liberal Caucuses?

A typical scene in the relationship between offering-plate-funded UMC denominational agencies and destructive liberal caucuses? (Photo credit: The Town Church in Ft. Collins, Colorado)

A typical scene in the relationship between offering-plate-funded UMC denominational agencies with little real accountability to the denomination and liberal caucuses with no accountability to the denomination? (Photo credit: The Town Church in Ft. Collins, Colorado)

By John Lomperis (@JohnLomperis)

The United Methodist Church’s offering-plate-funded anti-sexism agency, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW), chose to further damage its own credibility by selecting a recent staffer of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) to be its own new Director of Gender Justice and Education.

The Chicago-based COSROW has sometimes been controversial for promoting theological and sexual liberalism, straying well beyond its charge of promoting inclusion of women within the United Methodist Church.  At the last General Conference, it narrowly escaped being consolidated with another of our top-heavy denomination’s dozen general agencies.  An effort to abolish COSROW altogether narrowly failed at the 1988 General Conference.

RMN is devoted to promoting acceptance of homosexual practice, as well as transgenderism and extra-marital sex in general, within the United Methodist Church.  The caucus group (also headquartered in Chicago) has received generous funding from secular LGBT foundations and, in the face of its failures to change church policies, has notoriously championed such tactics as brazen, unilateral breaking of church covenants and even resorting to physical force to try to control what decisions duly chosen UMC leaders can and cannot make.

Audrey Krumbach left RMN staff last year after serving as its National Organizer for several years.  Her new appointment to COSROW was celebrated by RMN in a recent e-mail to the caucus’s supporters.

IRD has long documented how the offering-plate-funded agencies and other leadership structures of the United Methodist Church far too often actively oppose the official United Methodist values they are charged with upholding while exclusively catering to a narrow faction of the denomination rather than serving as agencies of and for ALL United Methodists.  Much of this can be traced to the surprising amount of staff inter-relationships between official UMC denominational agencies and unofficial liberal caucus groups whose destructive agendas are rejected again and again at General Conferences.

Jim Winkler, general secretary of the UMC’s General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) since 2000, has long been openly involved in the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), an unofficial caucus devoted to defending heterodox theology and diverting church resources towards propping up leftist political agendas.  The two groups are headquartered within a five-minute walk of each other in Washington, D.C.  Under Winkler’s leadership, the GBCS has often seemed to operate as the apportionment-funded chapter of MFSA, working in alliance with the unofficial liberal caucuses, while for over twelve years it has refused to fulfill a resolution adopted unanimously by its own board instructing GBCS staff to seek constructive dialogue with its fellow United Methodists in IRD.  MFSA even has a member of GBCS’s board of directors,  Mr. Haniel Garibay, on its payroll.  Winkler has also been notorious for using the agency to oppose the UMC positions on homosexuality, abortion, and Just War which the GBCS is charged with upholding (but which conflict with MFSA teaching), while engaging in such intemperate rhetoric as equating American “so-called Christian academies and home schooling” with terrorist-training “madrassahs” and calling IRD “a snake.”

Another UMC general agency is United Methodist Communications, whose chief executive, Rev. Larry Hollon, is hardly shy about using his position to promote his theologically liberal views.  Last year, UMCom hired as its new minister of online engagement Sophia Agtarap, a self-described “progressive Christian” and “LGBTQ advocate” whose new role as a paid employee of the whole church has not stopped her ongoing public activism on behalf of RMN.

The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), the United Methodist agency charged with leading the denomination’s missions work, has often taken a rather curious interpretation of Christian missions.  Despite MFSA’s hostility to orthodox Methodist theology and its secularizing agenda for the church, GBGM decided that the aforementioned Garibay would be a good choice for it ranks of commissioned home missioners, while the same GBGM office continues to give its formal, unqualified blessing to the work of an RMN staffer / GBGM deaconess who has previously served as a GBGM missionary and worked for United Methodist Women’s New York headquarters.

We have already reported on how the commission that organized the 2012 UMC General Conference was led a longtime RMN leader who soon went on to become RMN’s interim chief executive. (RMN recently found a permanent replacement.)

With such an apparent revolving-door personnel relationship between official UMC structures charged with upholding United Methodist teaching and independent caucus groups committed to destructively undermining the same United Methodist theology and policies, it is no wonder our denominational leadership is facing such a crisis of credibility and legitimacy.

10 Responses to Is There a Revolving Door Between UMC Denominational Agencies and Destructive Liberal Caucuses?

  1. Newsflash: liberal Methodists exist. Your comments undermine a large and growing portion of the denomination and your sensationalist “journalism” is hardly Christlike.

    • Donnie says:

      And there are many conservative Methodists who do not like their tithe money going to support liberal causes they find abhorrent.

      Imagine if part of your tithes went to something like the NRA or AIPAC or an anti-abortion charity. That is what many of us go through when we see anti-Israel, pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-socialism dogma in the pages of the GBCS newsletter.

    • John Lomperis says:

      If the theologically revisionist faction is “growing” then why is General Conference trending away from its desires?

    • gregpaley says:

      Ms. Dennis, judging from the tone of your comments, you have a brilliant future ahead in the UM, probably some very high post in the bureaucracy. I speak as an ex-UM and former employee of that liberal sorority known as the General Board of Discipleship, which never showed the slightest concern for helping people become disciples of Christ, but at pushing the liberal social agenda of the denomination’s loudest and most aggressive minorities, who put their personal grievances and obsessions at the center of their “faith,” and see the parish churches as just a cash cow to be milked, not as congregations of sons and daughters of God. The aggressive types who pull the strings in the UM never stop to ask “Is this the will of God?” or “Is this Christian?” though they do manage to scrounge around and find an isolated Bible verse that they think supports feminism, gay “marriage,” gay clergy, open borders, gun control, increased welfare, or the cause du jour. Most of them absolutely love seminary, hobnobbing with radical professors, and when they graduate they put in a few years in parish churches then elbow others aside as they become distrinct superintendents, bishops, seminary profs, or cogs in the national boards.

      If you see churches either as (a) “oppressors” or (b) useful tools to help DVGs (Designated Victim Groups) achieve their social agenda, be assured that the UM seminaries and boards have a corner office reserved for your future use. The influence of such bureaucrats is the main reason that I – and a few million other people – departed the denomination long ago. I have this curious habit of taking my marching orders from Jesus Christ, and those are not even remotely connected to the various “policy statements” and “manifestoes” that the General Boards feel compelled to issue, so as to put their Political Correctness on display.

      Don’t be too vexed that groups like IRD expose what the liberal UM agencies are up to. You are fortunate in that the people in the pews remain largely ignorant of the un-Christian causes that their plate offerings help support. However, I do my own part to increase the growing number of ex-UMs. When you drive the believing Christians out of the churches, you drive their offerings as well.

  2. It’s disappointing, for me, to see that the vein of Methodism that gave me a home during my university years and ultimately employed me is under attack. If it were not for the likes of the people mentioned, I would (and will) leave. It’s a sad day when any church would uphold “just war”. That is fundamentally at odds with the Gospel and any values that are at odds with Gospel values of Love and even Acceptance are perfectly fine to defy. See Mark 7 ~ don’t mistake traditions for the will of God.

    • gregpaley says:

      You are correct about the “traditions of men.” Using the church as a political tool is one of those traditions, one that liberals have been employing for well over a century. It is unfortunate that you call it an “attack” to publicize what the UM agencies and schools are doing. Some of us call it “telling the truth.” If those agencies are doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear from the truth being told, do they? I share your concern for things that are “fundamentally at odds with the gospel,” which is why websites like this serve a useful purpose. Back when I worked for the GBOD, employees often referred to the “immoral behavior” of the evangelicals within the denomination, those who were going public about what the boards and seminaries were up to. Hearing seminary-trained people (all of who claimed to be Christian) refer to truth-telling as “immoral” let me know I was in the wrong church.

  3. Donnie says:

    I’m thankful to the IRD for exposing the evil done in the name of your average Methodist. Until a few years ago I had no idea things like the GBCS existed. Many still do not. The more who know the better. Keep up the good work!

  4. Newsflash: truth matters.

    Thanks for exposing these tangled webs of cronyism among politically-motivated Methodist leaders. Sadly, these leaders have used their agencies to advance contemporary liberal politics over orthodox Christianity.

    I am pretty familiar with the history of these agencies, and, in contrast to the previous commenters, do not find any of your observations to be factually incorrect or “sensationalist.” If directly telling the truth isn’t in keeping with Christ’s ethos then I don’t know what is (see Christ’s encounters with the Pharisees).

    Keep up the good work. Sunlight is a great disinfectant.

  5. johns79 says:

    And the UMC wonders why offerings and apportionments drop at a rate faster than the membership. I give more to the food bank run by my church than I do to the general offering as it is the only way I can protest the mismanagement and misallocation of funds by the GC.

  6. ericvlytle says:

    Perhaps when she said “growing,” she meant that the liberal faction is holding its own while the conservatives and moderates are departing for greener pastures.

    I have to laugh at this familiar liberal cliche: Don’t you dare tell the truth about what we’re doing in (and to) the churches, that is not Christlike, shame on you.

    Anything that the truth can do to “undermine” the work of liberals strikes me as very Christlike.

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