2016 UMC General Conference

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Adam Hamilton

May 18, 2016

Rev. Adam Hamilton Backs Possible “Reordering” of UMC

Well-known Methodist minister Rev. Adam Hamilton has backed a proposal that could lead to a three way split of the United Methodist Church (UMC), based on congregations’ views on homosexuality. Hamilton, who serves as the senior pastor at the megachurch Resurrection UMC based in Leawood, Kansas, made the remarks to a group of seminarians in Portland on Tuesday morning before General Conference began its seventh official day of proceedings. He said the plan emerged after speaking to Methodist leaders from across the political spectrum at General Conference about “reordering” the UMC.

The proposal, if supported by the General Conference, would first create a commission. The commission would then form a plan for “reordering” the UMC. As Hamilton outlined this plan:

“That plan for reordering would create, out of one United Methodist Church, potentially three United Methodist Churches. And one would be the conservative Methodist church.

“One would be a church for those who are progressive, who only want to be in a church with people who are progressive, and will allow nothing less than full inclusion on everything and for everybody. In other words, that every pastor needs to be doing same-gender weddings – every pastor, every church needs to host same-gender weddings. So if that’s where you are and you say, ‘That’s a justice issues and we really can’t be with other people who are not like us on this.’

“And then a church for what I perceive to be the vast majority of United Methodists, which are somewhere in the middle, who are able to say, ‘We’re going to allow churches and pastors with these convictions to be able to officiate same-gender weddings, annual conferences to make decisions about who they will ordain. (This was basically the ‘third way’ proposed by the Connectional Table.) And we are going to also recognize that there are faithful Christians who have a more conservative interpretation, and provided that everybody is seeking to love with justice, we are not going to force those churches to adopt policies that don’t line up with their conscience.”

Hamilton said he thought the “middle” United Methodist group would constitute “75 percent of our churches.” As he met with other Methodist leaders, Hamilton said he felt like he was going “to throw up” at the prospect of a split. But he said he didn’t see “any other way that we’re going to break past the gridlock.”

Yet this prospect also “excited” him. Hamilton said this could afford the middle Methodists the opportunity for “rebirth” through having a “new church start with the denomination.”

“What would happen if we rebirth that and we wrote a brand new book of discipline; we didn’t keep trying to adopt a 1968 Book of Discipline,” Hamilton asked. “What would happen if we could order our boards and agencies in such a way that they were perfectly missionally designed for the 21st century, not trying to tweak the ones that were designed for the middle of the 20th century?”

“Now that I could get excited about,” Hamilton noted after comparing this opportunity to planting a new local church.

After lobbying against a split for the past three years, Hamilton described how he changed his mind. “What began to change for me was watching first of all Rule 44. We spent a day and a half debating whether we could have meaningful Christian debate about this.” He said this process showed “such a lack of trust” on both sides of the debate.

He said “moderates and progressive” anticipated seeing “a little bit of movement” during legislative committee process “that allows some tension to be relieved in the system.”

“But instead the votes continue to be for things that were even more regressive than what we’ve had in the past,” Hamilton said. “So mandatory penalties if you officiated a same gender wedding.”

Earlier Hamilton noted that he had expected delegates at the General Conference to formally “agree that we disagree” about homosexuality in the Book of Discipline, to “soften the language that says that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and to take officiating same-gender marriages “off the list of chargeable offences” for clergy.

Later in the day, Council of Bishops President Bruce R. Ough spoke for the majority of bishops opposing a split. “We are not advancing or advocating any plan for separation or reorganizing the denomination,” Ough said in a speech to General Conference.

On Wednesday morning, again speaking on behalf of the Council of Bishops, Ough asked the General Conference to back a plan to defer legislation on sexuality to a special general conference at an unspecified later date. Hamilton supported this proposal on the floor of General Conference around 11:30 am on Wednesday.


26 Responses to Rev. Adam Hamilton Backs Possible “Reordering” of UMC

  1. jmburca says:

    Adam always does this… “And we are going to also recognize that there are faithful Christians who have a more conservative interpretation, and provided that everybody is seeking to love with justice, we are not going to force those churches to adopt policies that don’t line up with their conscience.”
    Somehow, liberals (and Adam is one) assume that all conservatives may not be seeking love and justice already!!!
    And who makes this determination….a liberal? And if somehow it’s determined that the conservative church isn’t seeking love and justice, then liberalism is forced on them buy the church!!! Am I missing something here or is this nuts?

    • Mark Brooks says:

      There are wolves that howl and drive the sheep, and wolves that stalk the sheep. Hamilton sounds like the stalking kind. Vicious wolves.

  2. gh says:

    I don’t see any difference between the “progressive” and the “middle” group. It seems to me that dividing into 3 is kinda crazy. Why not just 2?

    • Mike Stidham says:

      My guess is the “middle” is a broad group of people that just want to have church as usual and don’t want to be bothered with this issue one way or the other.

    • Mike Ward says:

      I’m not Methodist, but I assume leadership tends to be more progressive than membere so the leadership of the middle group would be pretty progressive. They would probably immediately start working toward union with the progressive group with conservatives isolated and out of the way.

      • TCap says:

        The PCUSA adopted the middle approach in theory, but quickly moved to eliminate the ability of conservative congregations to dissent from the new sexual orthodoxy. Beware of this approach.

    • Mark Brooks says:

      Because it is a deception. The progressives, whether they are openly disobedient, or quietly disobedient like this Hamilton, to the teachings of scripture, are angling to get as much property and money as they can. They see what happened in the SBC, and they know that they have begun losing the battle. So would rather grab as much as they can by pretending there is a middle ground.

      Those who are faithful should not allow them the option to steal that which was given for the work of the Lord and turn it to evil.

  3. Mark E Roberts says:

    That’s Leawood, KS, and Adams’ proposal is for ecclesial suicide by triple amputation. Come what may, I pray the UMC will go the Maxie Dunnam way. Nothing is gained by keeping an institutional wrapping around groups fully at unresolvable odds over core theological-ethical norms.

  4. Dan says:

    To judge the true motives behind this proposal, “follow the money.” If the congregations in each group do not get title to their church property, then it is just a ruse to marginalize and dispose of the bigoted, homophobic people who hold to a traditional and orthodox view of Christianity, while keeping all the church property they paid for.

  5. MJ says:

    The “progressive” group would collapse into a small sect. the middle group would experience the slow decline of every other liberal protestant church. And the conservative group would slowly grow with the help of global partnerships. I still think that the current struggle is the better way. Stay the course.

  6. stan c says:

    so a new – “missioanally aligned” Book of Discipline will stem the tide? yeah – that’s why the UMC (in America) is in decline.

    • John S. says:

      And the current dsyfunctional UMC will craft the “…perfectly missionally…” whatever it is that is being proposed but not really defined.

  7. Fletcher Law says:

    Joseph, 4 questions and some comments-
    #1 Is this a split or 3 houses of Methodism with some type of connection?

    #2 Does not this (3 branches ) lead to a nation wide disgrace as big steeple churches will duke it out about which group to join for probably all the wrong reasons -(a prediction steeped in experience). “Open hearts open minds etc. has taught all anything goes in the UMC. Will this lead to social standing & prestige versus orthodoxy?

    #3 When the liberal bishop asked for repentance about orthodox marriage beliefs where were the conservative bishops? Are their any true conservative bishops?Are the bishops and senior clergy still afraid to declare their true feelings in order to keep high salaried jobs? It is amazing how many can speak with clarity after retirement.

    #4 Why do the liberals get to be self named “progressive”? Why can not conservatives call them out using appropriate theological language?
    Calling yourself “progressive” pretty much is calling conservatives knuckle – draggers and uneducated.
    (Yes I am a former UMC pastor serving elsewhere now.)

    • Pastor John Bright says:

      Will be joining you

    • Skipper says:

      Fletcher, your Question #4 – Notice I referred to them as the “Progressive Sexuality Movement,” not as “Progressives,” since they are progressing in the wrong direction. #1 Hamilton probably wants 3 groups in one circus, but just guessing from his past “performances” under the big top.

  8. Adams and his double-speak are part of the Methodists’ problem. They should just split into two: Bible-believing Christians and the “Christian” Left (aka, goat herders).

  9. Sheri says:

    This makes me so glad to be part of an independent congregation. We have our failings, Lord knows, but we can chart our own course without all this nonsense about bishops, commissions, conferences, etc etc. Amazing how simple church life can be if you have only the New Testament as your guide.

  10. Puddleglumm says:

    So-called “Christians” calling Jesus “Lord Lord” but not doing what He says. Progressives are not genuine believers despite their protests to the contrary since they reject the Bible as the Word of God. Moderates are simply lukewarm and can’t decide whether they are hot or cold. Both Timothy and Jude warned about these days.

  11. Skipper says:

    We cannot compromise God’s principals, because we are not Prophets of Baal. Let accountability make our split. Those who favor sexual perversion must set up their own group (it won’t be a church).

    Mr. Hamilton and others in the Progressive Sexuality Movement can worship Baal if they want to, just not in a United Methodist Church.

  12. Joan Watson says:

    I just re-read this article and this statement jumped out at me:

    “The proposal, if supported by the General Conference, would first create a commission.”

    The General Conference just turned the sexuality question over to the Bishops who have a vague plan to form a commission. Furthermore, if you recall Bishop Ough’s first address to the delegates to ease their fears that the Bishops do not support a split, he said, as quoted in an article by the UMNS:

    “He also indicated the door was still open to “new and innovative ideas,” perhaps even new structures. “We have risked exploring what many would consider radical new ideas,” Ough said in confirming that the bishops had been meeting with both conservative and progressive groups.”

    He also went on to make a statement very similar to Hamilton’s about the “middle”:

    “In a press conference after his announcement, Ough said, “I think we are a church, for the most part, of the middle.””

    The same article also had mike Slaughter making a similar statement about the “middle”:

    “Slaughter added that in his view, about 80 percent of the denomination get along well, but the 20 percent on one side or another ideologically and theologically are a large, disaffected contingent that don’t feel they’ve been dealt justly.”

  13. John S. says:

    Lets make hash. What a mess, what an unworkable, sloppily conceived way to postpone dealing with the issues. Love the 75% or the UMC would be with me part. Is he so desperate to be perceived as the savior of the UMC he seriously put this forward? or is he just in over his head?

  14. K. Barton says:

    I am a former UMC pastor, who was forced to resign from my appointment because my understanding of God’s Scriptures did not fit the UMC Book of Discipline. I had to choose which book I would obey and I found the Book of Discipline went against the Bible too many times.
    The liberal congregation I served could not tolerate the preaching of the gospel, because I had to preach about sin, and they did not want to hear about sin. They wanted to be told they were doing everything right. Don’t mention sin and never ask for repentance. They wanted to be told, “God loves you and your ticket to Heaven is punched because you came to church a few times this year.” My DS even told me to stop preaching about sin. And then we wonder why the UMC is dying.

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