UM Voices

by Katy Kiser


Guest Writer

September 14, 2015

The Coming Train Wreck: Progressive UMC Plans for General Conference 2016

Katy Kiser is a longtime United Methodist and freelance writer from Texas.

 

Disclose, Divest, Disrupt. This slogan, worn on the shirts of many at the Gather at the River conference sponsored by Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodist Federation for Social Action in San Antonio, Texas, perhaps summarizes what can be expected from progressives at the United Methodist General Conference 2016.  It is easy to dismiss such blustering as empty rhetoric only meant to galvanize the progressive United Methodist base. But can it continue to be written off as such, especially considering their past performance at General Conference and the rhetoric and clear messages propagated from Gather at the River?

Speakers at the gathering demanded immediate changes to church doctrine and “full inclusion” in the United Methodist Church. Bishop Minerva Carcaño declared it was time for the church to catch up with society, our sister mainline churches, and God. One presenter defined inclusion as “all who are NOT white, NOT straight, and NOT over 45,” which indicates that exclusivity is the basis for their understanding of “inclusivity.”

Rev. Peter Storey, a (non-UMC) Methodist pastor from South Africa and former chaplain to Nelson Mandela was especially judgmental of those in the church who hold a traditional biblical view of sexuality: “The Holy Spirit knows the prejudices of the devout, no matter how respectable or carefully mapped in dogma, are the most dangerous prejudices there are. The Spirit is showing us what once was revered as ancient truth has become uncouth and untenable. Time makes ancient truth uncouth.”

Nevertheless, Storey assured the conference their future was secure, saying, “Welcome to the future of the UMC where none will be excluded.”  But for all his assurance, he reminded the gathering that they must rise above their fear and have a willingness to die. In calling for bold and courageous action, he asked, “What or who is there to fear? Can a bishop water-board you?”

In a plenary, Amy DeLong of Love Prevails made it clear that progressive expectations should be low.  “If you are hopeful, I am here to rid you of that burden. We get trounced.” She acknowledged the reality that the votes were simply not there to change the UMC’s governing Book of Discipline and remove restrictions against homosexual practice. She told the crowd that democratic change was closed to them; they had nothing to lose, and called for “new and disruptive tactics.”

Delong declared that the liberal United Church of Christ denomination is not designed to be a refugee camp for exiled United Methodists. She promised they would work for change in new and different ways, and claimed they would be 100 percent successful. Success was defined as showing up. She told the conference, “We are the embodiment of justice. We are the incarnation and incarnation is meaningless if we don’t make an appearance.” Among some of her more incendiary comments was her suggestion to bring “gallons and gallons and gallons of piss and vinegar,” adding “just think of the trouble we can cause.”

Both Amy Delong and Julie Todd also of Love Prevails have not waited for General Conference 2016 to begin their campaign to Disclose, Divest, Disrupt. Bishop Carcaño acknowledged that they have been allowed to influence meetings of the Commission on General Conference (COGC) and the Connectional Table (CT), even if unofficially from the margins.  Carcaño announced that very little would have happened with the Connectional Table if it were not for Julie Todd.

Todd had taken to the microphone at a CT meeting, after they had hosted a panel discussion on homosexuality, and basically asked, as the bishop summarized her, “Is this all you are going to do? Do you realize you’re dealing with my life?”  Carcaño credited Todd for being the voice of the Holy Spirit and profoundly influencing the CT to formally committing itself to the LGBTQ liberationist agenda (as John Lomperis reported on here) and ultimately petitioning this upcoming General Conference. The CT is recommending changing the UMC’s effective definition of marriage, allowing pastors to preside at same-sex weddings and giving annual conferences the right to ordain openly homosexually active clergy.

Amy DeLong and her allies successfully shut down General Conference 2012 when the LGTBQ agenda was not adopted. Carcaño applauded DeLong for asking the COGC if disruptive LGBTQ protesters like herself would be safe at General Conference 2024 in Zimbabwe. As a result, the commission changed the location to the Philippines. “Isn’t this the important question?” Carcaño asked, “Will General Conference be safe for all God’s children or a life-threatening one?” General Conference 2028 will be held in Zimbabwe only if it is determined it will be safe for all LGBTQ persons.

Carcaño reported that the COGC has proposed taking all legislation concerning LGTBQ matters out of the normal committee process and to deal with them in the entire body of delegates at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. She also reported that she was hopeful that the commission’s recommendation to suspend Robert’s Rules of Order would allow the General Conference to have “a Holy Spirit moment” as they take up these important issues with “holy conferencing.” These proposals will have to be approved by General Conference delegates to go forward.

Although not calling for disruption but just as disrespectful of General Conference were the remarks of Rev. Kathryn Johnson, Program Director for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).  She told the gathering, “What happens at General Conference stays at General Conference!”

Johnson acknowledged RCRC will be under scrutiny in Portland, but said that was not the important thing. She said, “We know we won’t have to have approval of the General Conference to do the work we need to do.” She displayed disregard for the fairly decided and democratically expressed will of the majority of our denomination.  Johnson made clear RCRC will not moderate its work even if more of its values and commitments come in conflict with the UMC’s official stance.

In committee, the General Conference 2012 held in Tampa voted to end the church’s formal affiliation with RCRC. But this and many other committee-approved petitions, never came to the floor of the full conference for a vote, so the UMC-RCRC affiliation was not severed. It is well documented that RCRC has continued to use our church’s name to directly oppose any mild legal restriction or moral opposition to any abortion. This next General Conference will consider petitions to move our denomination’s official Social Principles in a more pro-life direction. It will also consider petitions to for the UMC to join other denominations who have already ended their relationship with RCRC.

Johnson went on to say no matter what the church decides, “We will not be defeated; we will not be stopped. Our work will go on.” Johnson ended her remarks with the claim that RCRC is the leading religious, sacred, Christian voice for reproductive health and justice.

Specific plans to disrupt General Conference were not discussed at Gather at the River plenary sessions.   The event organizers did invite Love Prevails to lead two breakout workshops, entitled “Disruption 101” and “Disruption 201,” both led by Amy DeLong and Julie Todd.  Out of respect for the attendee’s privacy, the conference organizers did not allow press to observe these or any of the other workshops. In any case, the progressive coalition is emboldened and ready to take whatever action is necessary to accomplish their goals. The impression was given that they will disrupt before votes are taken, possibly during the committee process, and are ready for a sustained effort.

 

Conclusion:

One thing is clear, if the progressives have their way, General Conference 2016 will not be business as usual. This gathering made it painfully obvious that changing how sexuality is discussed or allowing “the voices in the middle” opportunity to speak in small groups will not satisfy the progressives or resolve the profound differences that exist. The Gather at the River conference focused attention on just how wide the divide is and how determined the progressive caucuses are to pressure the church into not only full inclusion but celebration of LGBTQ sexuality, even if it takes “new disruptive tactics.”  We saw a taste of this in 2012 but are we ready for the train wreck they are planning?


41 Responses to The Coming Train Wreck: Progressive UMC Plans for General Conference 2016

  1. Palamas says:

    The takeaway from this article is that Methodist progressives are all three-years-old. They want what they want, and they are going to p!ss on the carpet and throw a temper tantrum until they get it. Leadership needs to be held accountable, and if necessary removed, if they give any indication that they are going to indulge this childish behavior.

    • Pudentiana says:

      Leadership has repeatedly indulged these thumb-suckers and nothing will change until the laity of this denomination exposes the identity of the Bishops who support this and challenge the weak lily-livered gutless Bishops who do nothing to stop it.

    • John says:

      Amen to that!

    • Joanna Hudson says:

      That’s how you change things. You attempt the normal route, then after however many years you get fed up, get loud, and tell the establishment, sorry, we’re not going quietly. If calling an entire group of adult, fellow Methodists a bunch of spoiled babies is a response, perhaps a look at history and the discomfort of change is warranted.

      • Palamas says:

        Sorry, that’s not how you change things. That’s how you bully people into giving you what you want. When you fail to persuade (and let’s face it, when you are going against both Scripture and the consensus of 2000 years, that’s going to be extraordinarily difficult), you stop trying to persuade and instead seek to intimidate. Doesn’t say much for the validity of your position.

        • Joanna Hudson says:

          When it comes to an issue of human rights, consensus is not the issue. Majority rules until it infringes on the rights of the minority, and the majority are not going to concede without a fight. I’m not going against Scripture, I’m offering a different idea of what it means, and there has never been any consensus of any kind about anything. Not sure what the validity of your position is.

          • Palamas says:

            This is not a question of “majority rules.” There was no minority until forty years ago. The position for which you advocate is completely novel in the history of the church, not to mention having no support whatsoever in Scripture. To suggest otherwise (and especially to suggest that there has never been any kind of universal consensus on the subject of homosexuality) is, simply put, delusional.

  2. Kevin Paul Condon says:

    I wish you had identified the women in the photo and the churches that send them to General Conference. It is bullying. They will eventually drive all who disagree with them out of the churches they attend, if they haven’t already, and then drive out all bishops they can’t control.

  3. Austin Rocks says:

    The left-wingers in the UMC are there to bully the Christians – and, in a great display of hypocrisy, these are the very people who boo-hoo about the bullying of homosexuals. Apparently they have no objection to bullying, so long as they are the ones doing it. If these people had an ounce of integrity – not a qualtiy that one associates with the left – they would have left long ago and gotten cozy with the Episcopalians, who have morphed into a political/ social club for homosexuals. But these bullies who remain in the UM have a goal: make the UM just like the Episcopalians. And it doesn’t bother them one iota that they’re following the Episcs down the path to extinction. If the General Conference one day consists of 5 homosexuals meeting in a back booth at Taco Bell, I doubt they will feel a shred of remorse. They drove away the people they hate, and they’re proud of it.

    • RicoSuaveGuapo says:

      No bad tactics, only bad targets.

    • Joanna Hudson says:

      Perhaps, instead of progressives picking up their toys and going home, the more staid among you should find another denomination? This is social and spiritual change, which is never easy or convenient for either the status quo or the challengers. I am a life-long United Methodist, married to an ordained elder. If the UMC kicks us out, all righty, but we haven’t left because rather than cash out, we’d prefer to effect change from within. Folks have been working on this particular change for a very long time, and it’s evident that politeness and decorum are not going to do it. If we wait on the GC or whomever to change, it will never happen, we have to change it ourselves. Connectionalism, okay, but if there’s a choice between the UMC/Book of Discipline/Conference and what I believe Jesus calls us to do, then my choice is easy.

      Call us bullies if you wish, but I’m pretty sure it’s the reigning class that does the bullying -like how there’s not really such a thing as “reverse racism.” The UMC is going to be on the wrong side of history on this. In 50 years my great-grandchildren will ask me in disbelief, “Really, Nana? People really used to think that?”

      Have a blessed and non-judgmental day.

      • Palamas says:

        Yes, by all means, the vast majority of Methodists need to leave their denomination so that a relative handful of snot-nosed children can get what they want. There’s an easy answer to this: you need to go to a denomination that your like-minded progressives have already corrupted, rather than expecting the entire Church catholic to bow down to whatever god it is that commands your allegiance.

      • Edwin Woodruff Tait says:

        Maybe nobody should leave? Maybe Christians should start trying to take unity seriously.

  4. DanH says:

    If you can look at that photo without snickering, you’re missing a part of your humanity.

    • Joanna Hudson says:

      Why? Because it appears to be a bunch of fat ‘ole dykes and you can’t help but laugh at the idea they think they’re going to change something? Among all the ill-informed, ignorant things I’ve read on this thread, that’s got to be the worst. I’m married (to a male UMC ordained elder) and I’m 40, but personally I can’t wait to be 55, post-menopausal so I can cut off my hair, go back to glasses from contacts, and completely forgot to care one whit about what some guy thinks.

  5. ray worsham says:

    There is no chance for the UMC beyond the current situation. It is time for the renewal groups and their members to support a group of Christian Bishops in North America to begin anew the Methodist movement. That may mean moving those who oppose doctrine out of the UMC, or some other variation of getting this utterly rebellious sin out of the UMC. As long as the status quo is maintained by the Bishops the UMC cannot offer Christ to those who need him. Please quit writing books, magazine articles, and blogs renewal leaders and begin seeking Gods direction to end this apostasy that is growing under the name UMC.

  6. M Hayne Hamilton says:

    So many well meaning commentators continue to offer the solution for the UMC is simply to put aside the divisive ideological differences and to focus the attention of the denomination on advancing God’s kingdom and the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. To these wishful thinkers, I suggest that here is a good place for them to start. Good luck….hh

  7. Wes Andrews says:

    Progressives don’t care about due process. They don’t care about dialog or decisions that have been made in good faith. It is a completely selfish, self-absorbed moment. Even if we put aside their lack of trust in the authority of Scripture, which is the central issue, they DISRESPECT people who are their brothers and sisters in Christ, but with different (albeit Biblical) views. I morn for the bride of Christ that has been the target of their abuse.

    • Joanna Hudson says:

      We’ve tried due process FOR YEARS, and it has led nowhere. Those in power are never going to surrender it easily. You guys are cracking me up with the “spoiled children/three year old stuff.” We’ve tried being polite and following the policies and waiting our turn, and yeah we’re tired of it. It’s never going to change if we don’t change it ourselves.

      • Palamas says:

        You can’t change it yourselves, because you’re a minority (and a rather small one at that) of the worldwide UMC. All you can do is stomp your feet and make rude gestures in the hope that the grown-ups will get tired of dealing with you and give you what you want. Ain’t gonna happen.

        • Joanna Hudson says:

          Well, at least we’re participating in an open-minded debate on it! That’s sarcasm, in case you missed it. This is a discussion, this is a discussion about something that stands to rip our church apart and that’s all you have to say – I’m wrong? This is not bullying, you can’t bully the majority when you’re the minority. This is standing up and fighting what we perceive to be a long-standing injustice. The church is on the wrong side of history here – progress will prevail. And I don’t recall stomping my feet and making rude gestures. I’m saying I understand that people are fed up. Folks can continue to bury their heads in the sand as our church continues to die, or they can have a conversation about the issue the way we’ve been asking for decades. I’d rather use my brain and the holy spirit to discern what will bring people to faith now, not simply do what we’ve done for 2,000 years.

          • Palamas says:

            “The wrong side of history”–love that expression. Means nothing, proves nothing, but it sounds good. Yes, you are wrong. It is as simple as that. From Scripture, tradition, and reason, at the very least, you are wrong, and seeking to make the church as wrong as you are. You are also in a relatively small minority worldwide, and while you may not do it yourself, your colleagues in the gay rights movements within the UMC have repeatedly embarrassed themselves by childish temper tantrums that accomplish nothing except to make themselves feel better about themselves while antagonizing those whose support they would need if they ever hope to accomplish their goals. At this point, all they seem to be doing is trying to pull a Samson.

      • Railroad Lover61 says:

        You would prefer to be a sore loser instead ?

  8. Jim says:

    ROMANS 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
    LGBTs who say they are Christian, worship their private parts more than God. This is God speaking, not me.

  9. Chris Evans says:

    Moses did not make it into the Promised Land. The UMC as presently constituted will almost certainly not make it either. Forcing institutions by a majority of 1will resolve little.

  10. John says:

    Bishop Minerva Carcaño call for the UMC to, “Catch up with society,” is jaw dropping. The church is called to counter society. Let’s take the issue of greed. I our society greed is a way of life. Does she think that the UMC should advocate greed? I think not.

  11. bobbyhonduras@yahoo.com says:

    Did Nelson’s pastor help him light the fires to burn tires filled with gasoline hung around people’s shoulders?

    • Tom_C says:

      Come to think of it, that’s how the progressive radicals in SA dealt with those who disagreed with them. Liberals ask for a “discussion” – and then attack anyone who disagrees with them.

  12. David says:

    If the UMC goes into a liberal direction. I will leave that church. I am not bound to stay in any church, but the true church. I believe in the innerancy of the Bible. All are welcome, all are called to repent, ask for forgiveness and be restored by Gods grace and mercy. We are all sinners, we sin each and every day. Perversions are a sin as well, not to be any more tolerated than lying, stealing, murder or adultery. Paul warned us in Galatians 1:6-9, of the Gospel of accommodation.My hope is that the UMC will stay true to Gods Holy Word, lift up the name of Jesus as Gods only Son, who now site with the Father, on his right side. It was only Jesus who died for us and only through him, are we saved.
    Also on another subject that will come up, I am sure. The coexist movement, is a lie. Allah, is not Jehovah, the Great I Am. Allah is either Satan as Baal, or Nephlim. Islam doesnt worship the God of Abraham Issac and Jacob. It comes from the root of Cain and Ishmael

    • Edwin Woodruff Tait says:

      Allah is the Arabic word for God.

      Islam does worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Stop bearing false witness about your fellow human beings.

      There’s only one God. Muslims clearly are speaking about that God when they say “Allah.” We and the Muslims have differing views about God. Muslims unfortunately reject the fuller truth about God that was revealed in Jesus. But to say that Muslims worship a false god because they reject the Trinity and Incarnation logically requires you to say that God was unknown until Jesus came, which makes nonsense of Christianity. And I don’t think you have any other good reason to say that Muslims worship a false god.

      • Palamas says:

        When it first arose, Islam was viewed as a Christian heresy for its rejection of the Trinity and Incarnation (not to mention resurrection and atonement). Can we agree that it is at least that?

  13. sgk1212 says:

    There’s no other way to define the “new” Methodist church:

    Nihilism: rejecting all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless; the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value; total rejection of established laws and institutions; the absence of truth; the absence of reason; a revolutionary movement that scorns authority and tradition; the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

    Iconoclastic: characterized by attack on cherished beliefs or institutions; attacking or ignoring cherished beliefs and long-held traditions, etc., as being based on error, superstition, or lack of creativity; breaking or destroying of images, especially those set up for religious veneration; breaking of established rules or destruction of accepted beliefs; overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions; strongly opposing generally accepted beliefs and traditions.

    I explained to a “contemporary” Methodist recently that the church is destroying every traditional family value that my Methodist parents had instilled in me while I was growing up. He told me my parents raised a bigot!

  14. Randy C. Lindsey says:

    I think it is pretty clear who the troublemakers are. They are the ones doing all the name-calling, insulting, and threatening.

  15. Railroad Lover61 says:

    The LGBT people should split off and start their OWN sinful church. The remaining un-united Methodists will be smaller but a stronger church.

  16. rarey4 says:

    Looks like the UMC continues to survive.

  17. Kurt Schwind says:

    It sounds like a good reason to strike the language and adopt the ‘agree to disagree’ language.

  18. Alan Hitchner says:

    The matter at hand is not a political one. We cant just say “If you don’t like it go somewhere else.” When it is carefully considered can only come to realize we haven’t the prerogative to make such declarations. The church of Christ Jesus is not a club where people can just make up new rules as they choose to change them. We will not find any examples where Christ approves of dismissing or rejecting our brothers and sisters. What prophet or disciple every said “well you can just leave.” or ” I don’t care what you think.”? There are no left nor are there any right wingers when it comes to earnest faith that Christ Jesus established. Today our persuasions are based on popular opinions rather than deep and careful understanding of the whole of the scriptures, old and new testament. Most try to have others attend to their impulses that are based on what they think best and it has very little discernment informed by scripture.

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