liberal Methodist denominations

May 13, 2019

Meeting United Methodist Bishops

Last week I joined several United Methodist renewal leaders to meet with about twenty United Methodist bishops, as reported here by United Methodist News Service. The meeting was organized for non-USA bishops but several American bishops attended. Each of us from renewal groups made brief remarks and then listened to the bishops.

The African bishops stressed they and their churches are traditionalists who support United Methodist teachings about marriage and sexuality. Several European bishops noted many in their areas differ with the church’s stance. There are 53,000 United Methodists in Europe, where the church is declining. There are 5.3 million in Africa, where the church is growing.

There will be many more conversations ahead among various United Methodist groups and persons before the 2020 General Conference. Some hope for a negotiated form of separation between traditionalists and liberals to avert further conflict.

Here’s my prophecy. There will be at least two new liberal Methodist denominations in America. One will self-identify as “centrist” and the other as progressive. Both of course will reject orthodox teaching on marriage and sex. “Centrists” will strive to retain forms of credal orthodoxy. Progressives will embrace more fluid theologies.

Progressives start from a stronger position organizationally. They control the Western Jurisdiction, plus the New England, New York and Northern Illinois Conferences, with about 600,000 members, or nearly 10% of USA membership of 6.7 million. Their congregations, many of them urban, are often theologically and politically homogenous. (It should be noted that many congregations and individuals in these areas disagree with their liberal governance.)

“Centrists” in America may be more numerous than progressives but they are politically weaker, not controlling geographic areas, and typically having mixed congregations. Often “centrists” are left-leaning clergy in red states, typically in suburbs, who still have conservative parishioners. More defused across the nation, their construction of a new “centrist” denomination will be more difficult. They will also suffer more divided congregations.

But the cultural differences between “centrists” and progressives will require separate denominations. And ultimately, if not initially, these groups, especially the progressives, may fracture further, as identity politics impair sustainable institutional cohesion.

The initial two new liberal Methodist denominations will separate from global United Methodism on generous terms. Congregations will retain properties. Departing conferences will leave with their institutional assets. General denominational assets, perhaps now totaling over $400 million, could be divided according to population percentages. A new entity taking 10% of church membership could merit $40 million in assets, for example.

Nearly all of United Methodism’s 13 official seminaries have already made clear they cannot abide the church’s marriage teaching. So nearly all of them will align with the new liberal denominations. Some of these schools ultimately will close or merge.

Most of United Methodism’s general agencies likely will dissolve, their assets reallocated. But larger agencies with ample assets, like the General Board of Global Ministries, may become autonomous and serve individual congregations contractually. The controversial General Board of Church and Society could dissolve or transfer to the liberal denominations. But the historic Methodist Building on Capitol Hill will remain with the global church.

This great sorting out will be painful and destructive for many local churches with divided congregations. Some will not survive and others will be crippled. More clergy will want to join the new liberal denominations than there are congregations to support them. The drama will unfold across many years.

As I told the bishops last week, a strong majority in the U.S. church will remain with Africa and other traditionalists internationally as part of growing global United Methodism. There are great days ahead for classic Wesleyan beliefs, maybe the most momentous since Methodism’s earliest revivals. God has honored us by entrusting this responsibility to us during this time.


59 Responses to Meeting United Methodist Bishops

  1. Samuel W. Setliff says:

    You wrote “…a strong majority in the USA church will remain with Africa and other traditionalists internationally as part of growing global United Methodism.” I understood the UMC in the USA is remaining orthodox only because of the votes of the overseas churches. In other words, that the recent vote would have gone the other way but for the foreign churches. So, how can you say that a strong majority in the USA is traditional?

    • Reynolds says:

      The Bishops are liberal. They did a survey of the people in the pews and only 20% were liberal. 44% were conservative and 28% were moderate and 8% cant figure out who they are. If the church splits a lot of liberal preachers will lie to stay employed or leave and have no job.

      • Samuel W. Setliff says:

        So, when I do the math, I find 44% conservative, and 56% not conservative. Realistically, I think one has to lump the “moderates’ and the “clueless” in with the liberals. Time will tell, but it looks to me as if the pro-LGBT element of the church is a slight majority. The large majority has already embraced female ordination, it would be a surprise if they did not also embrace LGBT ordination.

        • Larry Collins says:

          Did you also project Hillary to win?
          I would not lump moderates with liberals. When push comes to shove and they have to actually vote, you have no idea which what the 28% and the 8% undecided will go.

      • Everett says:

        Based on my experience in the PCUSA, most conservatives will simply stay with their liberal church because “this is my church” combined with no strong Christian
        faith or willingness to fight. Better to stay with my friends than leave.

    • Joan Wesley says:

      Clergy in the American UMC tend to be progressive/liberal while rank and file members tend to be more traditional/conservative/evangelical. Half the delegates to General Conference are clergy and half or laity. As a result, the American votes at General Conference can easily be skewed towards the progressive end which is not representative of how the people in the pew lean. So there is absolutely no basis to the claim that just because 2/3 of General Conference delegates voted progressive that means 2/3 of American United Methodists are progressives. It has long been documented that there is a theological split between leadership and the grassroots that has been problematic for a long time. This theological disconnect fuels the rampant distrust of the rank and file member in a leadership that is trying to take the denomination in a direction the rank and file American United Methodist does not want to go.

      • Richard Ivey says:

        Joan, all of what you have written is so true. I am sure many who read the “2/3 of the delegates voted” wondered the same about hand-picked followers of the leadership. So now to try and counter what has been done with the Traditional Plan, some of those Bishops approved asking the 2020 G.C. to agree to full communion with The Episcopal Church. I interpret that as they are seeking more followers for the leadership, beyond a 2/3 number.

      • Randy Kiel says:

        Please also note the “higher echelons” of clergy tend to be more liberal than the clergy overall. Not just the bishops, but the cabinet of DS’s they choose, and so those who are appointed to the larger, more well-known churches tend to be liberal. Similarly, ordained elders are, on average, significantly more liberal than licensed local pastors.

      • Keith says:

        Yep , what Joan said.

      • J. Winter says:

        At the Wisconsin general conference, they made sure the voting delegate’s were all liberal stacking the deck against traditional members. The only two traditional delegates are non-voting members. So much for fair representation.

        • Robert says:

          They did the same in the Holston Conference. The bishop actually pulled a conservative leaning pastor out of the delegation with no explanation.

  2. Lance says:

    Strengthening accountability to the Word & BOD would be a good first step.

  3. Jeff says:

    The scenarios described above are good for the kingdom. The historic Wesleyan witness will continue in orthodox fashion leaving those who are disobedient to the BOD and the Bible to figure out their trajectory. Growing Methodism will be preserved in Africa and perhaps orthodox Wesleyanism in the US can become a kingdom force for righteousness once again.

  4. Bill says:

    I have said all along that when separation comes, there will be a glut of progressive clergy and not enough congregations to absorb them. One has to wonder, then, if many of these progressive clergy will then pretend to be conservative. I personally do not believe there are so called moderates. I think people like Adam Hamilton drape themselves with that mantle in order to make themselves appear acceptable with polite people who pay the bills.
    His views on biblical inspiration are definitely progressive.

    • Jeff says:

      There is nothing in Hamilton’s books or his other writings and interviews that sound even remotely “centrist”. He says the UMC has two options: liberals stay in the church and continue their ugly resistance and disobedience; or the Traditionalists leave. Does this sound like a “centrist”?

    • John W Marsh says:

      We have a winner! Some them lied/fudged on their vows before and may do so again.

    • Jay Westfall says:

      And many of the “institutions” that degreed all these un-needed liberal clergy will close. That fact speaks volumes.

  5. Patrick98 says:

    Clergy do not fall out of the sky; they come from congregations. If the conservative congregations need pastoral leadership then they will have to identify, encourage, nurture, and support their future leaders to a greater degree than they have previously. Who will step up?

  6. Mary W says:

    Beloved,
    I’m in grief with you for the harm done by those who try to cloak the pain they inflict on the body of Christ as “love.” I’m sorry you’re looking for any warning of forthcoming hurt on this rubbish website. I’m sorry you’re getting lost in the comments just like I am. We are not alone in our pain. Peace of Christ.

    Mr. Tooley,
    Wow. While I’m not surprised at the starring role you’ve cast for yourself in this narrative, I am shocked that you’ve so brazenly displayed it. I’m deeply offended that you would work for years with your associates to unscrupulously help orchestrate and fund the “painful and destructive” schism of our beloved connection and then award yourself the title of prophet for predicting the pieces to fall right where you’ve manipulated them to land.
    With the love and humility of your sibling in Christ.

    • Mike says:

      Mary W, it is a time of choosing, and as Cardinal John Newman put it: “You can believe what you chose, but you are accountable for what you chose to believe” Don’t trust your emotions for the answer. I am certain your emotions have misled you in the past, just like mine have misled me. Instead, trust Scripture.

    • Steve says:

      As if one man could orchestrate such a thing. He is a perceptive observer of what would happen regardless of him expressing his opinion. Inasmuch as he makes much sense, and is reality based, of course he’s persuasive. What is he supposed to do, censor himself, so we may continue to live with blinders on? Should scripture go away because it discomforts us as we slide into decadence?

    • Gerry says:

      Does loving my neighbor mean I have to approve of my neighbor’s sin? You love those you disagree with and in some cases your disagreement causes them pain, does it not? Unless you believe in the old saw of “shooting the messenger” you know the source of that pain is in the circumstances NOT your message about the situation. If you have cancer does the harm come from the Dr’s diagnosis or from the Cancer?

    • Loren Golden says:

      Madam, I believe your identification of the cause of your angst to be misplaced and your accusation of Mr. Tooley as having worked “to unscrupulously help orchestrate and fund the ‘painful and destructive’ schism of” the United Methodist Church to be unwarranted, myopically one-sided, and monstrously unfair.  I will grant that he was injudicious in naming his professional, analytical prediction of the repercussions of the Special General Conference as “prophecy”, inasmuch as Biblically the word refers to a special revelation of God by means of a human agent whom He has specifically chosen to deliver it, and I am certain that he would not couch his prognosis in such terms.
       
      However, the United Methodist Church, like the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, et al, before her, is attempting to resolve two mutually incompatible visions for the Church of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith, stemming from two irreconcilable worldviews—one that recognizes the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the holy, inspired, and infallible Word of God and the final and authoritative rule of faith and practice in the Church, and one that does not, believing them to be, in greater or lesser measure, the words of men, and therefore subject to the final authority of human interpretation and modification.  Obviously Mr. Tooley and the IRD’s UM Action Ministry, like Good News, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, and other United Methodist renewal groups, come down on one side of that equation, while the majority of US Bishops and organizations such as Uniting Methodists and Mainstream UMC come down on the other.  It is just as unreasonable to expect the renewal groups to capitulate their foundational beliefs and come around to the Progressive way of thinking, for the sake of peace and unity in the UMC, as it is to expect the Progressive organizations to do the reverse.  From a Traditional / Orthodox / Evangelical perspective, Peace and Unity, at the expense of Truth, as defined by the Scriptures, is not worth the cost.  Likewise, from a Theological Liberal / Progressive perspective, Peace and Unity, at the expense of Justice, as defined by the Progressive perspective, is not worth the cost.  In such a condition, schism, whether manifested in an organizational division or not, is inevitable.  The United Methodist Church, like it or not, is divided against itself, “and if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mk. 3.25)
       
      So then, the question remains as to how the UMC will resolve its own irreconcilable differences.  In the other denominations that I mentioned, one side gained the upper hand in the internecine conflict and was able to impose its will on the denomination, making conditions intolerable for the other side.  In the Episcopal Church and the PC(USA) in particular, the side that gained the upper hand also put property trusts in place, ostensibly for the purpose of keeping congregations allied with the opposing side from leaving, hoping that they would come around to the majority perspective.  But what has happened has been lawsuits over property, congregations that could afford them paying enormous negotiated exit fees, and congregations unable to afford the exit fees withering in place, as their children departed to swell the burgeoning membership of nondenominational churches.  These denominations are left with empty building and shadow congregations unable to maintain them.  Thus in the PC(USA), for example, the number of churches dissolved over the past four years has been increasing, and the average membership per congregation has been falling, even as the number of churches dismissed to other denominations has been declining.
       
      In the UMC, there has been a novel turn of events, inasmuch as it is the Traditional / Orthodox / Evangelical side that has gained the upper hand in the General Conference, despite Progressive control of most denominational offices.  As a result, the General Conference has passed a truly gracious Gracious Exit Plan, unlike those of the Episcopal Church and the PC(USA), that could facilitate a peaceful separation.  Note that I said could, for this is by no means a foregone conclusion.  Whether the UMC’s Gracious Exit Plan facilitates a peaceful separation or not depends on the Progressive bishops and caucuses in positions of power and authority within the UMC.  Will they encourage dissident congregations to make use of the Plan’s provisions, or will they encourage dissident congregations to act in retaliatory ways (and act in retaliatory ways themselves), so as to exact chastisement and retribution on an increasingly Traditionalist / Orthodox / Progressive denomination that truly does not see things their way?
       
      To be sure, there will be pain in the schism, especially for congregations with mixed Traditionalist / Progressive membership.  There is always pain in separation.  However, the pain would be exacerbated if it cannot be achieved peacefully, as the example of the denominations with which the UMC is in full communion has proven time and again.
       
      A choice has been set before the United Methodist Church, whether to perpetuate the conflict that has brought ruin and devastation to much of former American Mainline Protestantism, or whether to choose peaceful separation.  I pray that the UMC would choose the way of peace.

      • Lil says:

        Loren, I appreciated your very accurate comments, which articulate so well exactly what has happened to the UMC at this juncture, and why the process that will surely soon be followed is about the only option that UMC churches and conferences have. This will not be the “moment of divide” — that “moment” has been coagulating for a long, long time, quite a few decades. What’s happening now is just the culmination, the recognition at last of what happened long ago. The real divide happened a very long time ago, but our leadership has just refused to admit it publicly, claiming that if we all gathered in one place at Annual Conference each year and Gen. Conference every 4 years, then if we shut our eyes and plugged our ears against what was really happening, we could continue calling it “unity”. I’m not sure how we intelligent adults could successfully delude ourselves for such a long time. We have not been united (except for standing close to each other) for an incredibly long time. Yet again and again, we tried this new plan or that new plan, struggling in vain to join two divergent entities which have from the very beginning simply been completely incompatible. What a relief it has been to finally all face the sad truth! Having strongly opposed splitting for years, I have within the past few years come to realize that UMC
        “unity” has been a mass delusion. Rather than continue the bitterness that has controlled every GC that I can remember (and every related discussion), I had already become convinced that the most God-honoring thing the UMC could do was cease expending all its energy, time and focus on “the issue”, and instead invest that energy, time and focus in working out a fair, gracious and equitable peaceful divide, leaving each group to gather its focus, establish and connect its various working parts, name its ministries, and move forward toward its own goals …. in peace. Finally, finally, I believe we have begun to do just that, and with the basics of the divide already in place, hopefully it can be accomplished swiftly and with peace toward each other. What an example a truly peaceful denominational divide would be for other fractured denominations! Though claiming unity, we have fought bitterly, and often sinfully. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each primary group could choose a new path and in our separation, be peaceful toward each other!
        Loren, I appreciated your well done explanation, presented factually and truthfully, but without any apparent animosity. I wish we could all make our comments as helpful and peaceful as yours.

      • Faithful UMW says:

        Loren Golden: “Peace and Unity, at the expense of Truth, as defined by the Scriptures, is not worth the cost.” Indeed.

  7. Andrew Hughes says:

    Time will prove who the true prophet is here. I think you are very close to hitting the nail on the head brother Tooley. As you said, this will take years, but God will be glorified in the end.

  8. Paul Stanley says:

    I grew up in a United Methodist Church and attended Christ Methodist in Memphis, TN for many years, one of the largest UM churches in the country. In my opinion, the reason the United Methodist church is declining in the U.S. is they have loyalty to two books, the BOD and the Bible. Throw out the BOD and focus on the Bible. Most of the churches issues will resolve themselves; for better or worse.

    • Jim says:

      Amen Paul. The mainline churches forsook their obligation to teach the scriptures so the laity would gain understanding. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. The denomination is reaping the whirlwind.

  9. Jayson says:

    When denominations go down this road you usually have the “respectable establishment” figures come out liberal. The type who spend years in leadership giving a wink an nod to the progressive/liberals but profess to be “moderate” until the time is right. As an observer, I think what is different about the UMC is that you had guys like Adam Hamilton and Wil Willimon who misread the tea leaves so to speak shifted their views and expected to retain their “prestige”. Instead, at least for now, they seem themselves on the out. Don’t underestimate the power of these folks, however. The UMC is not out of the woods yet.

    • Joan Wesley says:

      You are absolutely right that the UMC is not out of the woods yet, especially when it comes to the influence Adam Hamilton wields with rank and file United Methodists. There is no reason to expect him to quietly withdraw now that his personal preference for how the church needs to proceed has been thwarted. Everything he says indicates that he understands himself and Church of the Resurrection as being the future of the UMC in America.

  10. Gary Bebop says:

    Progressives wags and their fellow-travelers believe they hold the formula for history in their chalice. But to press this narrative means suppressing Traditionalists with all their might, controlling the story, and unleashing their trolls. Thank you for speaking out, Mark Tooley!

  11. Judith Diehl Bucher says:

    How did someone, who is not a part of the UMC, become a “prophet” and/or spokesperson for any of the factions involved in this discussion?

    • Robert Smith says:

      From his bio (click on his name): “A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988, … He attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia. “

    • Joan Wesley says:

      Click on his name above and to the right and you find that his bio justifies his role as prophet to Methodism in general and to the UMC in particular. Here is an excerpt:

      “A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988, when he wrote a study about denominational funding of pro-Marxist groups for his local congregation. He attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia.”

    • Loren Golden says:

      If by “someone”, you mean Mr. Tooley, you will kindly note that his bio (reached by clicking on his name in the sidebar) states that he is “a lifelong United Methodist, … has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988”, and “attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia.”

  12. Travis Knoll says:

    Admittedly, I am an usual pastor in that I have a MS in Mathematics and am a 25 year member of IEEE. However, to me, what Mark has done involves not one whit of prophesy, but instead is simple analysis of the data at hand. Analysis is judged based not upon fidelity to scripture, but upon its accounting for available data in responsible and reasonable ways. By this standard, I would say that Mark has been effective. There are times that forecasting can be wrong even when reasonable and based upon available data. Only time will tell in this case, since I personally cannot see markedly more clearly than has Mark.

    My own take would be that the relative sizes of the various group will “depend heavily” upon how we allow congregations and minority groups within the connection to decide on the stay/go options. If an AC or JC votes to withdraw, what process will allow congregations and sub-groups to choose to stay? If it will require 51%, and every church must vote formally, we may have a very different result than if we require 2/3 (and which way does the presumption go?) and allow church/clergy leadership to determine whether a vote should be called…

    My own analysis would suggest that the US will likely split more evenly than is herein described, but inertia is a serious factor, so how we set up the decision making process will matter a great deal.

    I also think that the chance for a somewhat different two dominant splinters with a few micros is reasonably high, since as they say in Godzilla, size matters and a shrinking US membership may generally resist splintering into markedly smaller denominations for the sake of doctrinal purity.

  13. Stacey Murdock says:

    The Discipline didn’t change, for the most part. The pain of GC2019 was a direct result of Bishops promising the Rainbow coalition full endorsement, the pulpit and Sanctuary for their pleasure but could not speak for the Global Church. They need to man up, own the error and start the process to leave. I fear the meeting in Kansas will promote a new effort at GC2020 to overturn the work done in the pursuit of holiness this year. We need to embrace the new opportunity before us , Jesus is still the answer, no matter the question.

    • William says:

      If they come out of the Adam Hamilton meeting in Kansas with a plan for more church lawbreaking, that would be the card for a petition to be brought before GC2020 to enhance the exit plan just approved by the Judicial Council to that would cause them to partake of the new generous exit path thus bringing about these new denominations on a much shorter time line.

    • Tom says:

      A good point. One only needed to take a dispassionate look at the GC voting over the past several sessions to see the way the wind was blowing. Couple that with so many failed attempts at thwarting the GC votes in recent years (showing that the rank and file & African UMs are no idiots), the fact that so many assumed the One Church Plan was a foregone conclusion is a real head-scratcher.

  14. td says:

    I don’t see how the UMC will ever approve a plan for a whole annual conference to leave the UMC- and inherently being able to take all of their local churches with them. Do you really think 2/3 of GC and 2/3 of all AC will approve that?

    There will have to a be a standard global default for all UMC local churches to remain with the global decision of the UMC unless they have a supermajority to approve leaving.

    Do we really think our inept institutional structure can guide the UMC through this? And do they really think that kicking decisions down to local churches is going to do anything except sow division and resentment…and even more distrust of pastors, bishops, and district superintendents?

    Honestly, why isn’t enhancing the current exit provisions for local churches the easiest and fastest option through this travesty?

  15. John Smith says:

    I found this comment curious: “Several European bishops noted many in their areas differ with the church’s stance. ” Are they talking about their congregants or the general population? If the latter, isn’t the church supposed to be different?

  16. Rick Detjen says:

    The voting statistics quoted from our 2019 Special General Conference were the results of delegates who were selected during the 2015 Annual Conferences. I was at one and these annual conferences and Progressives were highly organized while our Traditionalists were caught by surprise and out maneuvered. It won’t happen again in our 2019 Annual Conferences when we select our 2020 delegates.

    • William says:

      As a lay member of an American UMC, I have never served as a delegate at any level. So, I am not in a position to objectively critique the process. But, local church charge conferences elect church delegates to annual conference, right? And, often the charge conference is seen as a necessary annual hurdle attended by but a very small percentage of the local congregation, right? If I am not wrong, and please correct me, but church delegates can often be volunteers who agree to go to annual conference, right? And, local pastors are often glad that volunteers step up to be elected at charge conference, right? And, again, the large percentage of the local congregation have little interest in annual conference and know less about how it functions, right? Perhaps us traditionalists are complicit in allowing a disproportionate number of progressives, who definitely are the aggressors in our denomination, to be sent to annual conferences and in turn elect a disproportionate number of progressives to general conference. It certainly looks like a system ripe for manipulation, bullying, and would benefit the more aggressive.

      Us traditionalists need to wake up, get up, and get directly involved in this whole process — certainly demanding much more transparency.

      • Michael Stidham says:

        As far as General Conference, the delegates are selected at the Annual Conference level, not the local church. I’m not entirely sure how one candidates at that level.

    • Seldon Taylor says:

      Rick, I just attended annual conference NCUMC and it was shocking and not at all as you have suggested. Liberal resolutions passed 60/40 and all conservative delegates were blocked due to informed manipulated voting techniques. Traditionalist were not better prepared and could not be against such a shift in our conference leadership and rank and file. I feel that liberal may indeed control 2020 and pass a more strict exit plan if possible to have their way in the name of unity.

  17. dave says:

    Mark, does anyone envision that the progressives among the bishops, who seem to be in the majority, would ever go along with dissolving the UMC to form other denominations?

  18. Lee Cary says:

    Clear and compelling prognostication re. the future.
    Reads like it was written by a former Langley analyst.

  19. Rick Spell says:

    I agree with Mr. Tooley’s assessment. There will be a structural divide between Traditionalist and Progressive.groups, and possible fracturing within both groups. It will be painful for many people, especially those in the pews who may not have much understanding of what is happening and why. I am deeply concerned that there will be a significant number of people who will turn their backs on the organized church entirely, and may walk away from Jesus because of the confusion and frustration they feel. We (and they) need to see another Wesleyan revival, and another Great Awakening for this country. That is what I a praying for!

  20. Wm. says:

    I do not foresee the “progressives” ever leaving the UMC voluntarily. As with all institutions, including the USA government, the strategy of progressives concerning the future of the UMC is to cause chaos, disruption and unnecessary expenses so that eventually those that disagree with them will leave or stop resisting.

  21. Ken MacAlister Jr. says:

    I personally have had enough & have started going to an independent non denominational church after spending my whole life thus far (51 years) in the UMC. I am receiving Biblically based teaching each week directly out of the Bible with an accompanying sermon outline covering the sermon text covered each week. No political sermonizing or SJW crusades in place of scripture & the interesting thing is the pastor also came up in the UMC & left it because he wanted a more Biblically based church & then went through a non UMC seminary to become a pastor. People dealing with sexual sin as well as other sins are welcome in the church, but no excuses are made for any sin & no condoning or celebrating of any sin are present in the church. Instead The Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ is offered each week with no sugar coating. This is the problem with the UMC. The leadership refuses to offer this to sinners. Instead they toe the line of radical liberalism & political correctness & coddle sinners out of fear of making them uncomfortable or angry by telling them lovingly that all sinners need to repent. Excusing sin & cheering on sinners as they continue in their wayward direction of unrepentant sin is no different than handing a drowning man an electric cattle prod instead of a lifesaver in the form of The Gospel. Until the leadership changes in the UMC nothing else will change unfortunately. Sinners will continue to be coddled & The Gospel will continue to be unmentioned. I understand there are many trying to change things in this country in the UMC, but until the church in this country is led by people who want to shepherd people away from unrepentant sin through The Gospel the church will continue to move in an apostate direction. The radicals are refusing to leave & continuing to purposefully break the vows they took to become a UM pastor.

    • Faithful UMW says:

      Well, said, Ken McAlister, Jr., well said. I’ve had enough, too. I’m tired of being bullied by an aggressive, loud, rebellious group causing chaos and apparently delighting in splitting apart John Wesley’s vision from 271 years ago.

  22. United Methodist Woman says:

    A split denomination is a hypocritcal denomination by it’s very nature. You cannot serve two masters. If the UMC goes by the way of Presbyterianism, I will leave and never look back but will mourn for the generations of faithful Methodists in my family, including Isham Tatum, an itinerant preacher appointed by Francis Asbury to ride horseback throughout the colonies to spread Methodism. How tragic for those of us faithful to the righteous, holy and sovereign Word of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  23. Judith Foster says:

    Let me just interject some statistics into this conversation. In the U.S., according to several recent polls I’ve looked at online (NYTies, Gallop, NPR, LATimes, etc.), at most only 4.5% of the population identify as LGBT. Therefore I don’t understand why a mainline church is dividing itself over this small of a percentage of congregants!? I truly don’t understand how this has progressed so far. I agree with one of the writers here; our congregations will just drift away from God, and not really understand why we are doing this to ourselves — over less than 5% of our population.

  24. Blane Medley says:

    After 30 years of running, I’ve finally embraced my call to ministry in the UMC. Aside from the scriptural vs. doctrinal clash on sexuality, I find myself more concerned with the selfish deportment and self-destruction from both sides. “If one of you is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should restore that one in meekness, considering yourselves.” I’m not sure either side is working toward restoration … instead, we are working to prove we are right. “If meat offered to idols is sinful or offensive to my brother, I will not eat it … even though I am fine with doing it … so my relationship with my brother remains strong.” Where is our ability to bear all things, hope all things, endure all things? Both sides have embraced agenda over agape, to the point that our prayers are for our passions to prevail even at the cost of God’s purpose for the Church.

    We claim that we are sons of the loving God, siblings with living Christ, and saturated by the leading Spirit. Why do we argue about what EITHER book says? Let’s go back to the very beginning … gather together in one place, worship and pray until we are in accord with God, and let his Holy Spirit fill us afresh and drive us to decision. I think the breath of fresh air would do the Church a world of good.

  25. All conjecture with a biased narrative. Some churches – and I’ll bet more than some churches – when asked to “vote” to align, will simply say: “We’re not voting. What are you going to do to us?”

    Strict “unity” is at bet a false notion: the history of Christianity proves that. As Wheaton’s Jennifer McNutt has noted: “Protestant traditions diverged as they became regionally focused. Reformers overwhelmingly aligned themselves with the ruling governments – city councils, nobles, and monarchs – out of conviction that the state was also given a calling to ensure the reform of the church… Luther empowered the German nobility to encourage church reform through his affirmation of the ‘priesthood of all believers…’ Consequently, the Reformation developed differently in different contexts.” And, it’s a historical fact that Luther never encounter a united church.

    The church I serve has gay couples and parents of gay children who are Republicans. They are conservative about doctrine, money, and limited government (in the secular world and in the church). I don’t think my church is unique among rank-and-file United Methodists. I think the various factions are going to be disappointed and frustrated when some churches tell then, “We aren’t voting to belong to any of you.”

    Some will choose to be citizens of the Kingdom with a Wesleyan bent, and not factions and special interest groups… to the chagrin of IRD, WCA, Good News, Mainstream UMC, UMC Next, MFSA, and any other acronym and faction that I’ve left out.

    We are not as monolithic as the above groups would like us to be. Even the above groups are far from monolithic. All a wishful illusion from those who like to divide and conquer.

  26. Jake says:

    Dear Fellow Methodists,
    As much as you would like your beliefs to prevail, the coming generations will only believe that the Bible was written by men to try to convince other men a long, long time ago. They will not follow you and your Wesleyan fantasies. God bless you all.

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