Amy DeLong watches a Connectional Table increasingly bending itself to her will.  (Photo credit: IRD)

May 1, 2014

Amy DeLong Promoted to Chair of United Methodist Connectional Table

I confess: the headline is a slight exaggeration about the Connectional Table’s recently concluded April 28-29 meeting (this last Monday and Tuesday) in Chicago. But it did decide to respond to the demands of DeLong by formally committing itself to aligning with her single-minded agenda to sexually liberalize the United Methodist Church. So you can read the details below and decide for yourself how slight my exaggeration is.

First, some background is in order.

The Connectional Table (CT) is composed of representatives from every major UMC leadership body – the Council of Bishops, the general agencies, the jurisdictions, the central conferences, and the General Board of Discipleship’s Division on Ministries with Young People.  Furthermore, slots are not allotted to representatives of any ethnic ministry program of any official church body but rather to five unofficial caucuses which claim to represent African-American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander United Methodists.

I have noted earlier how drastically unrepresentative this elite table is of the denomination. While Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some 40 percent of United Methodists, only three of the 47 voting members (six percent), and none of the additional members with voice but not vote, are African. Meanwhile, the radicalized U.S. Western Jurisdiction accounts for less than three percent of church membership but has been allotted 17 percent of the CT’s voting membership.

The CT’s executive committee consists of ten Americans plus one European, several of whom are very outspokenly progressive but none of whom are similarly outspokenly orthodox.

For its two slots, the Division on Ministries with Young People named a gay activist youth, Kevin Sauceda, and a young pastor, Eduardo Carrillo, who wore a pin at the last CT meeting touting his support for the far-left agenda of “Love Prevails” on sexual morality and abortion and its any-means-necessary, anti-Golden-Rule tactics.

Love Prevails is a self-described “radical sexual liberationist” group consisting of Amy DeLong and a few friends, and has been nicknamed “Love Bullies.” (The nickname “Love Bullies” is copyright 2014 Rev. Evan Rohrs-Dodge.) DeLong’s full-time job appears to be stridently demanding that the United Methodist Church bless her active lesbianism.

Like a classic case of an abusive relationship, there has been an accelerating pattern of DeLong and company taking outrageously bullying actions against the United Methodist Church (tactics which no one in IRD or the UMC renewal group would ever do, or would ever hear the end of if we did), bishops and other denominational leaders falling over themselves to appease her, DeLong becoming encouraged to push even further, and the cycle repeating.

After the 2012 General Conference failed to adopt a petition replacing the denomination’s biblical stance on sexual morality with a standard that largely amounted to “anything goes” (besides exploitation), outside protesters illegally took over the floor to prevent business from continuing. Some led by DeLong refused to leave until our bishops submitted to her demands. She demanded that the legislative agenda of the conference by re-ordered and a prayer be offered to open the next General Conference session, all according to her specific dictates. She celebrated getting her ultimatum met and putting our bishops “on notice.” This emboldened her to then vow to use physical force again to prevent the General Conference even considering a petition to end the denomination’s affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). A key chapter of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) cheered this commitment to defending abortion violence by silencing fellow church members.

Since then, I have not seen one bishop have the courage to publicly say such tactics are not appropriate for decision-making within the body of Christ.

So DeLong became further encouraged.

The Love Bullies loudly interrupted last November’s CT meeting to protest the UMC’s affirmation of biblical standards for sexual self-control. In response, the CT decided to shelve much of the church’s business to submit to being harangued by DeLong. The CT also decided to form a human sexuality task force led by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of North Carolina.

The CT further decided to dramatically re-order its agenda for the next several meetings to hold dialogue sessions on sexual morality. Lest there be any doubt, on Monday Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area, the CT chair and future Council of Bishops President, made a point of crediting Love Prevails with pressuring the CT into arranging these dialogues.

He admitted that in many ways, these dialogues were “nothing new,” but said that they were breaking new ground by live-streaming the dialogue and inviting online submissions of questions.

During breaks, DeLong and other Love Prevails protesters held signs with messages like “DIVEST FROM THIS ABUSIVE #UMC.” I overheard one rudely confronting a church agency staffer for walking by while paying insufficient attention.

For some context, for years I have attended UMC agency meetings as an observer. If I have something to say, I do not hijack the meeting but rather speak privately and respectfully with people during breaks or between meetings. While I appreciate being heard, I understand that the denomination has not entrusted me with an official role in these structures.

In sharp contrast, Love Prevails was repeatedly allowed to interrupt to inject its agenda. (During one portion of the meeting involving voting, Bishop Ough finally restricted the discussion to actual CT members.) Once they interrupted, in an apparently coordinated way with Bishop Sally Dyck of Chicago, to highlight the pro-homosexuality stance of the congregation whose band was selected to provide morning worship music. At another point, DeLong demanded to know what the new CEO of the UMC’s Washington lobby office would do about homeless gay teenagers. Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe agreed to make sure the issue was raised at her next board meeting. DeLong also announced her interest in attending the CT’s next meeting, to be held in Liberia, and demanded to know what the CT would “do to ensure safety of LBGT people who go there.” Even as we received communion on Tuesday morning, Love Prevails activist Sue Laurie (a former staffer of the Reconciling Ministries Network) was allowed to stand next to the servers offering a blessing to recipients while prominently wearing an enormous gay pride ribbon.

CT members themselves were also eager to inject sexual liberalism into other areas of concern. In a discussion of our need to recruit young clergy, Tracy Merrick of Pennsylvania claimed “[w]e have highly vital LGTBQ Christians who could be serving in ministry, but we aren’t letting.” (He did not elaborate on how that is working out for the UCC.) In discussion of ecumenical relations, not only did CT members generally exhibit their usual myopic focus on the narrow world of oldline American Protestantism, but were rather explicit in urging the UMC into follow these dying denomination’s lead in sexual liberalism.

Interestingly, at least three outspoken sexual liberalizers, Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, Rev. Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, and Bishop Arichea basically admitted their giving up on winning over the hearts and minds of less liberal United Methodists, noting that people have made up their minds and agreement was unlikely, though they still expressed vague hopes for getting along.

The bulk of Tuesday morning was devoted to a panel discussion of homosexuality. While the UMC Discipline requires that the church’s teaching be “fairly and equally represented” at such apportionment-funded dialogue events, the panel consisted of two strong opponents of the church’s teaching and one token supporter.

Afterwards, the CT scheduled an extra-long lunch break to encourage further sexuality dialogue.

So how appreciative were DeLong and company of the CT allowing them to forcibly take over the last meeting, repeatedly inject their agenda into this meeting (even the communion service), publicly praising them, and shoving aside half a day’s worth of work to discuss their concerns?

Apparently, the CT did not pander enough.

During the panel’s question-and-answer session, Sue Laurie took to the microphone to declare that “[t]here has been violence done to GLBT people today,” apparently by allowing one person who openly disagreed with Love Prevails to speak. DeLong declared that “unity” is one of “a whole list of churchy words” that she has “come to hate” because of how it has been cited in arguments against her agenda.

After lunch, Bishop Ough invited further feedback about the morning’s dialogue. This led to over an hour of further discussion, overriding time set aside for other important church matters.

DeLong and her follower Julie Todd took to the microphones to declare that the dialogue was “not legitimate” since LGBTQ activists were insufficiently involved. Ms. Todd, who is ordained in the New England Conference, emotionally lamented the CT’s lack of leadership and complained that she did not hear any CT member clearly denounce the sexual-morality teachings of the UMC Book of Discipline.

In response, Bishop Ough dutifully invited members to respond to her invitation.

Immediately, Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the California Pacific Conference made a motion for the CT to petition the 2016 General Conference to remove all language from the Book of Discipline disapproving of homosexual practice.

The two top staffers of the UMC’s main pro-homosexuality caucus, RMN, were then in the room, suggesting that they knew this was planned all along.

Several CT members at different points indicated that they saw dialogue as largely valuable for the goal of leading non-liberal United Methodists to change their minds. Many speeches urged adopting the liberalization motion. Bishop Dyck delivered an especially impassioned one, making a point of speaking dismissively of the panel’s token conservative, who serves within her annual conference.

Several CT members argued against rushing this motion through. Revs. Ole Birch of Denmark and Harald Rückert of Germany both expressed strong support for the substance of the motion but argued that this was not the right way to do things. No one directly defended the church’s position, though Bishop James Swanson of Mississippi noted that his position was no secret, and shared that his friendship with Pamela Lightsey was possible because they avoided win-lose actions like this motion. He told fellow CT members, “If you want to be in a hurry to win at all costs, then you go ahead.”

And they went ahead. Two motions to delay the rush to establish a liberal position, and to leave time to hear from more voices, were shot down.

The final motion was a substitute version offered by Bishop Ward, who openly presumed a sexually liberal consensus on the CT. Her version would have the CT “affirm parallel paths through dialogue and e-mendment of the Discipline to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of the church.” In other words, the CT would commit itself to the LGBTQ affirmation agenda, and would both prepare relevant General Conference legislation and would make explicit that this was the point of its ongoing dialogues.

Immediately before the vote, Bishop Ough rather dishonestly claimed that this somehow would not decide the central question.

The motion passed overwhelmingly. I recall observing only four nay votes (one European, one African, and two Southeasterns), though there were many abstentions.

Immediately afterwards, Bishop Dyck rushed across the room to rather rudely yell at me without even a greeting. I had accurately live-tweeted that Carcaño and Ward had introduced motions which pandered to Love Prevails, and in my 140-character-limit shorthand had referenced the “Love Prevails motion.” Apparently, the top pastoral leader of United Methodists where I live, whose yelling at me was loud enough to be heard in the hallway, was upset that my reporting the facts may have made her and others look like puppets. I will continue to report the facts accurately and let readers draw their conclusions. It is worth recalling that Bishop Dyck was one of the bishops involved in the negotiations with Ms. DeLong at the last General Conference, and also that after some Reconciling Ministries Network activists demanded that Bishop Dyck issue a public dissent from the Council of Bishops rebuke of Bishop Melvin Talbert, she obediently did so a mere three days later.

After her performance with me, Bishop Dyck was thanked by a watching Love Prevails activist, with whom she walked off triumphantly.

Right before closing worship, DeLong interrupted one last time to announce a “prayer vigil for gay and lesbian people, who were largely left out of today’s conversation.”

Thus the CT ended up powerfully demonstrating the truth of some comments made on Monday morning by its Executive Secretary, Amy Valdez Barker, who challenged claims that the church was dysfunctional by arguing that “[t]here is no such thing as a dysfunctional organization,” since “every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it currently gets.”

The earlier parts of the two-day meeting were peppered with talk about unity and strengthening the denomination’s internal connection, and even had some talk about the church reaching new people. In contrast, one of the protesters declared with her sign that “MY #1 AGENDA” was removing the language from the Book of Discipline affirming biblical standards for sexual self-control. For Love Prevails, absolutely nothing, even making disciples of Jesus Christ, is more important than setting aside everything else for this.

By the end of the meeting, the same prioritization had become the official policy of the Connectional Table.

In other business:

  • The CT members approved a grant of $125,000 to the UMC General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) to hold 5-6 consultations around the world (two in the United States and one in each of the overseas continental regions where the UMC is organized) as part of a process to comprehensively revise and shorten the Social Principles for the sake of making them more theologically grounded and globally relevant. The three European Central Conferences had petitioned the 2012 General Conference to set up such a process. The General Conference referred the motion to the General Council for Strategy and Oversight, which would have been created if the restructuring proposal had not been judicially invalidated. Nevertheless, the CT decided earlier in the quadrennium that it had the authority to implement this. However, an earlier version of the proposal would have sought input from a wider range of voices and not been exclusively administered by the GBCS. The GBCS has yet to firmly identify which parts of the Social Principles it will try to delete, but the American liberal faction of the church it has long exclusively represented (under its previous leadership) has been known to cynically silence orthodox social concerns by inaccurately claiming they are not global issues.
  • The CT will move forward by sending mailings to all delegates to the last and upcoming General Conferences apparently intended to keep alive the agenda to create a U.S.-only central conference. This was already rejected by the majority of annual conference delegates in the United States and some 95 percent of those in Africa. But given the widely agreed-upon unlikelihood of the global General Conference to agree sexually liberalize the church, some American United Methodists have clung to such global segregation as their “only hope” for the theological and sexual liberalization of the UMC.

Expect to hear many insistences in the days ahead that these two secondary agendas of the CT are completely unrelated to what has now become its “#1 agenda.”


  • Greg Paley

    If you’re familiar with the bios of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and other Marxists, you know that they never really “held a job” in their lives, they were committed to revolutionary change, ostensibly to benefit “the workers” even though had minimal contact with “the workers” and were never workers themselves. (It’s tempting to throw in Barack Obama, since he never held a real job either, but let’s save that for another time.) Lenin and his devotees created the template: make a career of radicalism, which was certainly not true of America’s Founding Fathers. People like AmyDeLong fit the Lenin pattern perfectly – they enter seminary with the expectation that they will never actually serve a parish church, or only briefly, because their true calling is to agitate and revolt (pun intended) and draw attention to themselves, and you won’t get that kind of attention ministering to parishioners in some mid-size rural or suburban church. “Professional radicals” ought to be an oxymoron, but the liberal seminaries graduate hordes of them. The grads who do end up serving churches work to convert the parishioners to political radicalism, and in the meantime they write books, agitate, and draw enough attention to themselves that they hope they will end up in one of the national boards where they can impose their agenda on the whole denomination.

    If I could ask this woman one question – not in person, I hope – I would ask: Do you even care that your PC-driven liberalism has caused huge membership losses?

    • rsg

      They don’t care – if anything, that’s their consolation prize.

      On the twitter stream during the panel, more than one liberal twit-erer said they would rather see the church crumble – as long as they “won.”

      • Greg Paley

        Was that twit pun intentional? Either way, I like it. But that’s really sad – “Let’s get what we want, even if it destroys our church.”

    • Conqui

      Membership losses, and dearth of new members, is caused by the types of distortions of reality seen in this article. And by the refusal of vocal UMC members such as the author to accept the possibility that there are valid alternative understandings of the Bible and God’s intent. This is not my opinion, it is a summary of innumerable studies and polls about why people don’t affiliate with Christian churches.

      • Jeff Allen

        And the Bible is not subject to any public opinion polls. Jesus said he came to bring a sword, meaning his truth divides the adherents from the apostates.

        • Charles Spickard

          AMEN!!

      • John Lomperis

        Conqui, can you name a single specific “distortion of reality” in the article?

      • Dave Gingrich

        Wow, blaming orthodoxy for the 60-year decline of the UMC is completely, intellectualy dishonest. My wife and I hung on in the UMC until we could bear the un-Christian-ness no more. We are loving our Wesleyan church for its honesty, spiritual liveliness and love.

      • Greg Paley

        Sorry, but if you are denying that liberal churches are losing members – and have been for the past 50 years – it’s you who is guilty of “distortion of reality.” There is no arguing with numbers, and ALL the mainline/liberal denoms have been losing since 1960, and no sign of that changing. Whatever side of the argument you’re on, we have hard data to prove that liberalizing the church’s sexual morals does not draw people into the church, it makes people leave. Look at people like this Amy DeLong and you see that she has zero concern for numbers, and zero concern for what’s right – the goal is, make her and her gay and lesbian friends feel comfortable in church. I suspect she and her friends have so little contact with anyone outside their circle, that they may really have convinced themselves that, the more gay-friendly churches, the more gays they will attract – ignoring the non-gays who have already left. they appear to be very narrow in their focus.

    • Jeff Allen

      The homosexuals were given almost absolute control of the CT discussions, and yet they still weren’t happy at all. Nothing will satisfy them except 100% capitulation and the jettisoning of all biblical sexual standards. And they really don’t care if the church is divided or destroyed in the process.

      And while they try to claim the moral high ground, they break their vows to uphold the Book of Discipline employ bully tactics — and the UMC leaders pander to them. Apparently, for the sexual anarchists, the end always justifies any means.

      Petulant children don’t act this badly.

  • Donnie

    The inmates are guarding the institution.

  • eMatters

    The UMC lets non-Christians like these pro-gay people be pastors and leaders. What cowards they are. Can’t they see that you can’t appease terrorists like DeLong? They are getting what they deserve. What a sad situation! I’m so glad I left the UMC.

  • Pudentiana

    It is time for the laity of the UMC who believe the Bible’s teaching about marriage as taught by Jesus Christ, i.e. a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife, i.e. one male and one female united in one flesh, Those who believe this simple teaching need to obediently enter the “temple” as Christ did and chase the “money changers” i.e. proponents of sexual sin, OUT. Act. Too late now to talk. Act. Go to your Bishop and call them out. Go to these gatherings like the Connectional Table and call them out. Don’t just say you will not pay your apportionment or you will leave the UMC. It falls upon us; lay members of the UMC to call this to a stop. Don’t ask permission. Do it!

  • Preacherman1967

    Bishop Hope Morgan Ward almost destroyed the Mississippi Annual Conference, give her time and she will destroy the NC Annual Conference.

  • Paul W.

    Clearly, very few members of the Connectional Table are even Christians. Things aren’t going to change until non-Christians are removed from leadership positions. This should be the emphasis of the resolutions for GC2016.

    100 years ago, those who didn’t believe the Bible, even those who viewed Jesus as a good teacher, knew where the line was drawn and didn’t fool themselves into thinking they were Christians. Now, after 100 years of modernism/liberalism, huge numbers of unredeemed folks honestly now believe that they are true “Christians” even though they deny the essentials of the Christian faith. Worse, many true Christians play the same game and pretend that these deceived unbelievers are “fellow Christians”.

    Why are we surprised then when our agencies and leaders advocate for unbiblical positions? As a friend often reminds me, “Why would you ever expect the unredeemed to act as if they are redeemed?”

    The UMC will never be blessed while we allow unbelievers to remain in positions of authority.

  • robert baldwin

    At the age of 89 and still in reasonable health, I stunned to see allthe new thoughts and beliefs that seem to be arriving in our Methodist church and members. When are we going to have our own tree huggers and whiiporwill followers that conjure up all kinds of feelings of happiness and mystery??

    Not to far away from the sacrifice of the first born so the crps ar good and the wine remains clear.

  • franklin thompson

    This is more evidence that we are witnessing the “last days”.
    Rampant apostasy is one of those signs.It is really very sad to have to see these things happening. Personally, it encourages me to be more resolute in my personal relationship with my savior and more boldly witness to others the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    • Chris Ellis

      Amen!

  • ray worsham

    Thank you, Franklin that is truly the only response. God have mercy on us all. For the UMC the absence of Christian episcopal leadership is quickly leading to its demise. So sad for those of us who have invested so much in hopes of renewal.

  • Chris Ellis

    It is time for conservative movements in the UMC to pull out the “nuclear option” of withholding apportionment monies or get out and start their own church. God wants us to save souls not institutions, especially corrupt, wasteful systems. Stop sending in the money! If that doesn’t work, leave! What fellowship does light have with darkness? Absolutely none.

    • Jeff Allen

      I couldn’t agree more. When I began publishing articles on a blog about this issue, I was immediately paid a visit first by our Assistant District Superintendent and a few days later by the District Superintendent. They were not happy with my stance. So, the liberal infection is pervasive and spreading fast. A split is necessary or their won’t be much left. Because people are leaving and going other places.

  • Ghostdog6

    I joined the UMC years ago because time served in non-denominational and pentacostal churches left me feeling that there had to be a better way. I appreciated the emphasis on love, acceptance, and reconciliation and liked the idea of a council that reviewed theological matters and held each other accountable to uphold those standards. Not just building on a rock, but having that rock checked repeatedly by an international group of professionals every four years. Halfhearted or complete lack of enforcement of the discipline indicates a lack of faith and conviction in that discipline. One can not earnestly spread the gospel, preach repentance, and disciple new converts to the faith with a lack of faith and conviction.

    Where are the orthodox warriors? Where are those who would stand up for the Lord and defend the faith? If Christians (both leaders and laity) can not muster conviction equal to, if not surpassing, that of heretics how can we defend the faith? Do orthodox apologists even exist anymore?

    “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:13, NASB

  • james d bright jr

    read your bible. quit making your own rules know thus said the lord.the bible clearly comnemds this life style.consentrate on JESUS’ teachings.It would be awful to wake up in hell because of being mislead by a bunch of people who dont know the bible.

  • Emily

    The Episcopalian’s went with the “alternative” views of the Bible, and have schism and lawsuits abounding. With such a substantial majority of Methodists in support of traditional marriage, those who have suggested that the defenders of the faith should “hold the line” are quite right. Insist on meeting in a respectful and orderly fashion, and if need be, warn, and then remove those persons who refuse to conduct themselves accordingly. My heart goes out to all who are having to deal with such infantile behavior.

    • Jeff Allen

      But the people who have the authority to do the removing of those who abandon the teachings of the Bible are all corrupt themselves. They will never do it. Pastors and laity at the local level have to take action against our weak, anemic and false leadership.

  • Jeff Allen

    John Lomperis,

    This is a great article and thanks for keeping us all informed of the destructive efforts of those who oppose sexual self-control.

    However, and correct me if I’m wrong, I still sense a great reticence on the part of the IRD, Good News, the Confessing Movement to actually consider breaking away from the UMC denomination. Yes, I am aware of the recent statements made by Good News regarding this possibility, but comments since then seem rather tepid. My assumption is that you may think we can still win this battle. My belief is that the sexual anarchists will never quit and the disease has spread so far that we need to seriously consider a departure from our apostate “leadership.” The most logical leaders of such an action would be the groups mentioned above. Please seriously consider this option. As we wait, the leadership gets more corrupt, more youth are deceived, more homosexuals enter the ministry, more churches are hurt, pastors who uphold biblical teaching are harassed or removed, etc. Much is being lost while we delay the inevitable. Sometimes, like Daniel, we need to be able to read the writing on the wall.

  • Carlos Otero

    What a sad state of dysfunction and apostasy our beloved denomination has come to! Once we sought to spread scriptural holiness across the land and we grew by leaps and bounds. Today we ordain, elect and tolerate leaders – bishops, DSs, pastors, and agency heads who care neither about Scripture or holiness, but only about promoting the secular agendas of our “progressive” society. In other words, they would like to see the UMC become the religious equivalent of the Democratic Party. In the meantime, we are no longer making disciples, but hemorrhaging members and closing churches. In the Florida Conference, where I serve, we have closed 10% of our churches in the last decade, despite a booming population growth. Most of the remaining churches are just hanging on. If we don’t wake up and take real action soon, there will be nothing left to save.

  • Diane Smith

    Every time I hear news like this, I become more discouraged. I think Jeff Allen is right, that the sexual anarchists will never rest until they have completely co-opted the UMC. Our present pastor is an orthodox Christian, but he will be retiring before too much longer, and I fear what we might get next. If we get one of these rude, loud, uncouth, whiny, unorthodox bullies. I don’t know where we’ll go. After last GC, I thought things would be ok, but no, the opposition is just getting more strident. The crowning irony, to me, is the way they want to shut out the African conferences. If anyone else did that, they would scream discrimination, but because the African church upholds the Word of God, they want to shut out the voice of truth so that it cannot be heard at subsequent GCs. Thank God for the African church, that they lift high the cross of Christ and all that it stands for.

  • David Clark

    The Southern Baptist evangelical Bible believers faced the same problem 20 years ago. Liberal theologians often trained in Germany or Europe were questioning the inspiration of scripture. Through the committee on committees they took back the denomination over a ten year period. A few churches and a couple of seminaries broke off. Now you hear nothing about them. Meanwhile the Black and Hispanic wings are growing at a record pace. Where are the courageous godly men and women who will stand for biblical righteousness in Methodism? What would the Wesley brothers say and do?

  • Mark Brooks

    If the Methodists want to prevent the loss of the denomination, the right answer is to make it a place that modernists won’t be comfortable. Remove the progressive bishops. Institute controls and trustees at the seminaries to restore biblical teaches. Create bright lines. Eliminate the ambiguities and compromises with the world. They will flee if strongly opposed, and if they go, small loss. This is the lesson the SBC learned; there is no reason why Methodists can’t benefit from that experience.