2016 UMC General Conference

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United Methodist Schism

May 17, 2016

UMC Bishop: No Schism Proposals from Us

Bishops in the United Methodist Church are divided but open to the possibility of “new structures” according to a top bishop addressing the denomination’s top legislative body on Tuesday morning.

Council of Bishops President Bruce R. Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area shared that the council is committed to increasing unity and is not putting forward any proposals at this time for dividing the 12.1 million-member global church.

Ough spoke after the existence of conversations between Council of Bishops then-President Warner H. Brown, Jr. and various caucus officials about potential schism were made public by Ohio pastor Mike Slaughter to his Annual Conference (regional) delegation and subsequently widely disseminated over social media.

“I stand before you today on behalf of my episcopal colleagues to tell you that I have a broken heart and that collectively, we have a broken heart.”

Ough cited sexuality, interpretation of scripture and “how we include our LGBT brothers and sisters” as areas of persistent disagreement that could divide the church.

The bishop noted that he and his colleagues were charged with oversight of the spiritual and temporal matters of the church and had been engaged in “intense, holy conversations” in considering how to maintain unity.

Ough disclosed that prior to arriving in Portland for the denomination’s quadrennial General Conference, bishops had been in dialogue with various groups and conference officials to understand their perspectives and positions. Citing the challenge of having such a conversation in the “anxious, time constrained” environment of the General Conference, Ough assessed that “anxious, distrustful organizations have difficulty affording space to anything – space necessary to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading.”

“it appears from social media that our conversations have unintentionally contributed to the anxiety of this General Conference, and for that I offer my sincere apology,” Ough stated. “As shepherds of the entire flock, the Council of Bishops is committed to maintaining the unity of the entire church” which he described as “an authentic unity born of the Holy Spirit.”

Ough announced that even as the council called for unity in the church, “We ourselves as a Council of Bishops are not fully united.”

“We are not advancing or advocating any plan for separation or reorganizing the denomination,” the bishop flatly stated, citing “the constitutional prerogative of this body [General Conference] to propose and act on legislation.”


6 Responses to UMC Bishop: No Schism Proposals from Us

  1. apriluser says:

    Really? We have to wait on the Holy Spirit’s leading regarding what scripture has already spoken to regarding human sexuality? And then there are conversations with others to get their perspectives? What has God already said thru scripture? What kind of unspiritual leadership are we following?

    • Mark Brooks says:

      “Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears.”

      Vicious wolves, that’s the problem, vicious wolves from the body of those who are supposed to be shepherds. The Apostle Paul watched it happen even before he went to Rome. They have always been there, the children of the Slanderer, waiting for their opportunity to serve their real father.

      Can the UMC General Conference purge the bishops? I’m assuming so. If the bishops were required to explicitly affirm the Book of Discipline and agree to remove pastors and bishops who violate its terms, how many would refuse, and so identify clearly those who must be removed? I think that there must be a way to do this. Better not to drag it out, right? God is waiting to see his people brake the houses of the sodomites.

      • mitchw7959 says:

        “God is waiting to see his people brake the houses of the sodomites.”

        What exactly are you proposing? What do you want God’s people to do? What does “brake the houses” mean? Are you advocating physical mob violence or government authorities forcibly entering households and arresting same-sex couples?

  2. Heddrick Steel says:

    This was all theater to prepare the way for the ‘centrist’ compromise called ‘a way forward’. Mike Slaughter and Bishop Ough are great friends, and Slaughter is both a major proponent of the ‘way forward’ AND a major leaker of the so-called ‘split’ that just HAD to be addressed by the Bishop.
    It is no real compromise at all since the end result is a denomination that ordains homosexuals, permits homosexual marriage, and conducts homosexual weddings.

    • Joan Watson says:

      After just reading what the Bishops have proposed I think you are right and it was a set-up and Hamilton and Slaughter are in it up to their eyeballs!

  3. Joan Watson says:

    It is a sad and hard thing to get to the point of no longer trusting your church.

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