June 26, 2013

Faithfulness and Defiance in Virginia United Methodism

Good News Vice President President Tom Lambrecht addressed evangelicals at the United Methodist Annual Conference last week in Hampton, extolling United Methodism’s traditional beliefs and church discipline.  Meanwhile, several dozen liberal clergy in the conference are asserting willingness to defy church law by celebrating same sex unions.

“I can understand and sympathize with those who disagree with the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,” said Lambrecht to the Evangelical Fellowship Banquet.  “Their efforts, however, have failed to persuade the church to renounce the clear teaching of Scripture and 2,000 years of the Church’s tradition.”  Lambrecht’s Good News group is United Methodism’s oldest evangelical renewal caucus.

Lambrecht noted that “as many as 5% of our clergy have volunteered to break the Discipline and break our church in the process.”  And he observed:  “No one forced these clergy to become United Methodist and to submit to our doctrines and discipline.”  Lambrecht asked:  “Where is the integrity of a person saying, ‘I’m going to remain a United Methodist pastor, but I’m not going to live by the voluntary way of discipleship required of all United Methodist clergy?’”  And he surmised:  “They want the benefits of being United Methodist clergy, without the corresponding responsibility to live by the clergy covenant.”

Prior to the Virginia Annual Conference, several dozen conference clergy, evidently working through the local chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, pledged defiance of United Methodism’s prohibition against same sex unions.

Shenandoah University Professor John Copenhaver of Winchester, Virginia explained in a cover letter for MFSA:

Up until the 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, I lived with the comforting illusion that the United Methodist Church was making progress toward abandoning its condemnation of the “practice of homosexuality” in the Social Principles and was moving toward full inclusion of LGBT people.   But with the 61-39% rejection of changes to the church’s position on homosexuality at the 2012 General Conference, and with the increasing number of African delegates at General Conference, who for the most part strongly oppose changing our policy, our church’s position appears to be hardening.

Copenhaver and Virginia’s MFSA urged lay and clergy United Methodists to endorse “An Altar Call for ALL,” which pledges willingness to conduct same sex unions or solidarity with persons who do.

In response to “An Altar Call for All,” Virginia Bishop Young Jin Cho said in a statement, “I understand the deep feelings of those engaging in these discussions,” but “when I was elected and consecrated a bishop I took an oath to uphold The Book of Discipline of our church, and this I will do with regard to this issue as with all other issues.”  He also reminded the three self-declared “Reconciling” congregations in the Virginia Conference that the church’s Judicial Council ruled in 1999 that a local church “may not identify or label itself as an unofficial body or movement,” which is “divisive and makes the local church subject to the possibility of being in conflict with the Discipline and doctrines of The United Methodist Church.”

In his own concluding remarks to Virginia evangelicals, Lambrecht noted an “impossible situation,” and suggested “we can throw up our hands in helplessness” or “we can offer ourselves to God as instruments of bringing renewal and revival to his church.”

12 Responses to Faithfulness and Defiance in Virginia United Methodism

  1. eMatters says:

    “I can understand and sympathize with those who disagree with the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality,”

    Most of what he said was good, but statements like that represent the wimpiness that got Methodists where they are (and why I left after 15 years of loyal membership). Why would you understand and sympathize with the blind men of Sodom as they try to destroy your denomination?!

    They should expose the “An Altar Call for ALL” as the fraud that it is. There already is an altar call for all — that is, all those that repent and believe.

    • mrskbw says:

      The shepherds compromised for “security” and yes, $! Christ never promised that we would always feel safe or free from persecution.In fact He warns us to expect it! When the shepherds sold out the watchmen and gatekeepers sat down -Satan walked in and fed the people false teachings in the name of political correctness. The UMC has embraced pluralism and New Age practices – which are NOT new at all! Elijah faced the same spirit when he ran from Jezebel as she killed the prophets.All the while Ahab sat “safely” by while false worship filled the hearts of the people. Ahab allowed witchcraft and rebellion sweep the land.

      The homosexual issue is judgement for the years of silent, complacent compromise….. “understand and sympathize with the blind men of Sodom”.

      What did Lot do next when the blind men of Sodom surrounded the house? He was willing to offer up his own children! UMC pastors, district superintendent, and bishops are not telling laity the truth. To encourage individuals and families to stay and sit under false teachers, is wrong! We offer up the children because we are too spineless to stand up and tell the truth! Paul did not offer this advice and Christ certainly does not!

      At the 2012 General Conference I cried and mourned, as I walked down the legislative hall….. Rooms filled with altars built to men, “prayer rooms” to receive words from a spirit guides with altars to “reflect” upon the Holy Spirit……. (the Holy Spirit lives within those who are in Christ). The halls were filled with labyrinth mazes for people to walk and place stones on stars. All of this and much more was at the 2012 GC…. and that was only one small hidden corridor .

      I flew home from Tampa very sad. Pulled my membership immediately!



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  4. johns79 says:

    A Bishop that will enforce the BOD. Now that is news.

  5. Let the liberals leave the denomination. They want the benefits, great pension program, and a guaranteed appointment, but don’t want to follow the rules they agreed to uphold. They have no credibility in my eyes.

  6. Bob Brooke says:

    The church must learn to be inclusive of gays and lesbians without endorsing their sinful behavior.

    • johns79 says:

      While sounding good this ignores the reality of what the LGBTQ group wants. They want inclusion and acknowledgement that homosexuality/homosexual acts are not sinful. So how do you square the circle?The BOD statement is probably as broad as you can get and still uphold the biblical standard. The standard theatrics at the GC show this is not acceptable to them.

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  8. mrskbw says:

    If you are interested…. I will tell you a little more about what I learned at the 2012 GC. People walk around like they are in some kind of daze! Many are puppets! Praise God for a handful of African Delegates that are bold enough to stand. However, they were treated poorly. I was eyewitness to a evil trick that was played on several African Delegates during the election of committee heads.

    The African Delegates had been given the wrong room numbers on the back of their ID badge. A lot of trickery goes on! I went to my bishop to make this known. He blew me off and said,” the African Delegates can take care of themselves.” I did not stand stand during their ceremony of the so called – Repentance Act. They do not mean what they say! The entire thing is political and operates by the standards of the world.

    My prayers are for the children and for the African Church! May they separate themselves from the UMC in America before the moral decay and sickness spreads to their children and becomes a global epidemic that tramps on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I know UMC Evangelicals – This is exactly what the progressive liberals want to happen and that is their goal to drive out all who oppose the progressive movement of pluralism and false worship. Again consequences of mute shepherds and greed.

    When Sodom became a stench in the nostril of Holy God, He sent warnings….warnings…… and then He acted. He is a God of love and a God of justice. And His justice is Love.

    In Awe Of Him Daily,

    • johns79 says:

      I would not be asking for a separation of the African Church but rather that the African Church (and other 2/3rds churches) should continue a faithful witness. That through this witness they might provide a bulwark and eventually reevangelize North America and Europe. To separate would be to give the “progressive” bloc exactly what it wants and to consign the UMC to idolatry and oblivion.

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