May 24, 2019

Liberal UMC Leaders: “We Cannot Affiliate” With Traditionalist United Methodists!

In a remarkably quick turn from the recent “unity, unity” rhetoric, a notable group of liberal United Methodists leaders, from Alaska to Florida to Germany, has declared in no uncertain terms that they “cannot” remain in the same church with Christians who support the traditional standards of the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline.

And they are apparently not sure whether or not they can continue to tolerate the presence of Methodists who have not yet settled what they believe about matters related to homosexuality and transgenderism.

In the last year, “Mainstream UMC” emerged as the major factional caucus (other than the Council of Bishops) pushing the so-called “One Church Plan” to liberalize church standards on marriage and ordination.

Rev. Dr. Mark Holland of the Great Plains Conference, Mainstream UMC’s executive director, has distinguished himself with numerous blatant misrepresentations of the facts. I have earlier rebutted his repeated claims that two-thirds of American United Methodists want to liberalize the church’s definition of marriage and that the so-called One Church Plan to liberalize our denomination would have “no effect on central conferences outside the United States.” Holland’s strident characterizations of the Traditional Plan as allegedly evicting people from our church simply for having dissenting beliefs are not only demonstrably false, but appear to be a case of projection, when we compare the details and implications of the Traditional Plan vs. the plan Holland’s group promoted at the 2019 General Conference.

But it is remarkable that this latest statement, disavowing any interest in continued affiliation with traditionalist United Methodists, was not sent in Holland’s name alone, but rather in the name of the whole Advisory Board of this caucus group.

In an email sent May 15 by Mainstream UMC to its supporters as well as to 2019 General Conference delegates across the spectrum, the Advisory Board asked for feedback on what they would want in “a new Methodism.” In its second question, the Board made clear that from now on, “we cannot affiliate with those who espouse the mean-spirited views … that are embodied in the Traditional Plan.”

And what about people who are not fully traditionalist in their beliefs about homosexuality, but who are, at this point, not sure if they fully embrace Mainstream UMC’s liberal perspective? Could such people have a place in the church Mainstream UMC envisions? The caucus does not yet know, and is asking for feedback.

Here is their own wording:

What does “full inclusion” of LGBTQ persons mean to you?  Is the inclusion “mandated” or “allowed?”  Is there room in the New Methodism for those who are unsure? This gets to the heart of whether a New Methodism will have progressives and centrists together or in separate expressions.  (Let us be clear, we cannot affiliate with those who espouse the mean-spirited views of certifying, punishing, and evicting that are embodied in the Traditional Plan.) [emphasis added]

(Obviously, no Traditional Plan supporter would accept this harsh characterization of these new church laws, the majority of which make no explicit mention of sexuality, as fair or accurate.)

While as a delegate, I received this Mainstream UMC email, I have not seen it posted online. But Mainstream UMC posted the same question quoted above on its Facebook page.

This striking declaration from Mainstream UMC was an early entry in a recent series of public statements and meetings by liberal U.S. United Methodists.

A meeting of liberal caucus leaders in Minneapolis last weekend seemed set on creating a new liberal spin-off denomination. From that meeting came a manifesto entitled “Loved and Liberated” which establishes a vision for a new church in which it would be “non-negotiable” to have absolutely no pockets of protected disagreement from their liberal vision of intersectional LGBTQ liberation. An article on the website of “UM Forward,” who sponsors that event, expressed the verdict, “The United Methodist denomination is, for all intents and purposes, dead” and “rotted to its core.”

Another recent manifesto of United Methodists opposing the UMC Discipline’s biblical standards is called “Creating a Future with Hope.” That statement includes a commitment to “seek nothing less than the full repeal of the Traditional Plan.” This would even including repealing the reforms of the just-resolution process that in 2016 were endorsed by the liberal “Love Your Neighbor Coalition” (see “Complainant as Party to Just Resolution” on page 2) and repealing provisions of the Traditional Plan that protect victims of abuse in matters not necessarily related to homosexuality. While the previous rhetoric of these supporters of the so-called “One Church Plan” was to profess wanting to include centrists, progressives, and traditionalists, this statement now shifts to saying “We are open to exploring new forms of Methodism that incorporate centrists, progressives, and all other United Methodists who embrace the principles contained in this statement” (notice who’s missing?). “Creating a Future with Hope” lists several groups as Principal Signatories, including Mainstream UMC, Adam Hamilton’s “Uniting Methodists” caucus, the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), and United Methodists for Kairos Response.

Hamilton’s recent gathering near Kansas City and a recent statement from RMN both displayed some divided sentiment between staying and fighting vs. starting a new liberal denomination (while both being evidently uninterested in listening to the global majority of United Methodists). But RMN’s statement did say of the UMC: “we cannot with integrity continue to partner with an institution explicitly set on harming the most marginalized among us.”

On social media, the Rev. Matt Miofsky, a St. Louis large-church pastor and prominent “One Church Plan” supporter, openly admitted, in the course of two comments, that “really the aim of” proposals for liberals to stay and fight is “that traditionalists leave,” feeling driven out by liberals’ tactics. “One Church,” indeed.

It is tempting to say that such recent divisive statements – especially the Mainstream UMC declaration of “Let us be clear, we cannot affiliate” with orthodox believers any longer – represent a dramatic reversal for such groups. And perhaps Mainstream UMC should refund money it got back when it was explicitly soliciting donations “for Unity in the church.”

But we cannot forget the behavior we saw from many of these same liberal leaders before the conclusion of the 2019 General Conference: the patterns of name-calling, false-witness-bearing, and anti-Golden Rule parliamentary tactics  against theologically traditionalist United Methodists, and the consistent refusal to listen to our deep concerns about the so-called One Church Plan. Who could forget Mark Holland’s vowing at the 2019 General Conference to filibuster until the monster trucks rolled in or Mainstream UMC Advisory Board member David Livingstone talking about using African delegates’ confusion over process as a parliamentary weapon?)I really do not see how else to interpret this pattern other than that it displays an unwillingness to see theologically traditionalist United Methodists as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, at least not in any meaningful way, despite all the rhetoric of “unity.”

As far as I can tell, the statements and reactions in recent months by liberal caucus leaders do not represent any fundamental change in their core values. Rather, what we are seeing is the unmasking of what was already there all along. But before February, this was perhaps a bit more obscured by the political sloganeering used to try to sell proposals to liberalize United Methodist standards at all costs.

The Mainstream UMC statement that “we cannot affiliate” with traditionalist United Methodists was simply signed “Advisory Board / Mainstream UMC” without listing individual names.

But beyond Mark Holland, the Advisory Board in whose name this effective call for divorce is issued reflects a geographically wide range of U.S. liberal leaders:

Jay Brim (the Rio Texas Conference chancellor)

Lonnie D. Brooks (from Alaska)

Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady (Upper New York)

Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver, III (Missouri)

Tim Crouch (North Texas)

Rev. Barry Dundas

Robert Fuquay (Indiana)

Neil Gately

Tom Harkrider (Central Texas)

Rev. Juan Huertas (Louisiana)

Rev. Lee Johnson (Great Plains Conference)

Rev. David Livingston (Great Plains)

Pat Luna (Alabama-West Florida)

Molly McEntire (Florida)

Rev. Werner Philipp (Germany)

Rev. Cynthia Weems (dean of the cabinet of Bishop Ken Carter’s Florida Conference)

Don Wiley (North Texas)

Nanette Roberts, co-founder (Great Plains)


64 Responses to Liberal UMC Leaders: “We Cannot Affiliate” With Traditionalist United Methodists!

  1. Joan Wesley says:

    Having monitored the development of this situation since GC2012, I completely agree with your assessment that “centrists”–including all levels of denominational leadership–do not view traditionalists as a viable source of Christianity for 21st century America and never have. The anti-traditionalist verbiage has gradually and quietly escalated over time–especially with Adam Hamilton–and hit its zenith at GC2019 and afterwards. I now feel like a personae non-grata in the very denomination that helped form my traditionalist perspective.

    • Reynolds says:

      What will Adam do if his congregation does not vote to leave. These people believe that their congregations will do whatever they tell them. I think there is going to be a rude awakening when churches start to vote and stay

      • Austin says:

        Adam Hamilton has stated for a long time and as recently as this week that he does not plan on pulling COR out of the denomination.

        • Bradley Pope says:

          That Is not his position it is his strategy & will most definitely change if by some chance his congregation wants to stay in the denomination and resistance efforts are not successful enough to be satisfactory to him. He is the very one calling for a “new methodism“ denomination if resistance doesn’t work. His plan is resist the traditional plan and change methodism from the inside out and if that doesn’t work start his own denomination. He has been very slippery with the language he has used to couch these positions over the last two – three years. Anybody who is taken him at his word on face value has seen a subsequent course correction because his words are not a great indication of his position but rather an indication of what he thinks will sell at the time. He is first a politician.

          • James Burcalow says:

            As a former conservative member of Adam Hamilton’s church, I absolutely agree. I think it more accurate to call Adam a snake oil salesman…his every word is about feeding his own ego wrapped in self-righteousness. He seems to believe conservatives in the church and stay while paying for his monstrous church while be insulted and disrespected. I hope COR fails and collapses into ruins around his feet.

  2. Andrew Hughes says:

    When liberals do not get their way they usually get hateful and intent on doing as much damage to conservatives as they can. This divorce will hurt all denominations, not just traditional Methodist. Seems like just what satan wants. Civility is not in liberals make-up.

    • Marc Haughton says:

      You’re right Andrew. The most intolerant people are the self-proclaimed tolerant Left

      • Diane says:

        “I hope COR (Church of the Resurrection) fails and collapses into ruins around his Adam Hamilton’s) feet”

        Those are words of intolerance from a bitter, angry, self-identified UMC “traditionalist”, not a “liberal”. They immediately preceded your comments that liberal, progressive Christians are intolerant when they don’t get their way.

        Take the log out of your eyes.

  3. Mike says:

    It is becoming fully clear that progressives and most centrists/moderates have completely abandoned classic Christian teaching. Since when have Christians believed that 1) persons are identified primarily by their sexual orientation or behavior, and 2) sexual activity is necessary for me to be fulfilled as a human being.

    Christian discipleship since the early church has been about self-denial, sacrificial living and finding joy in Christ alone – not in food, sex, money, or vocation. Yes, all of those things can provide meaning to our lives, but they are not the source of our identity.

    I’m amazed that church leaders like Adam Hamilton and many of our bishops have reached a different conclusion than the church throughout history – they seem to have acquiesced to our culture of self-gratification and pleasure over finding our deepest fulfillment in following Christ.

    Clearly, if this is the case, it is time to separate so that we can teach with clarity the richness of a life fully devoted to Christ and the demands and joys of his kingdom.

    • John Schuh says:

      I THINK THAT DESPITE THE DOUBLE TALK THAT THE LIBERAL CHRISTIANS HAVE REJECTED THE AUTHORITY OF PAUL.

  4. Leon Schwartz says:

    It is possible that ‘all’ are wrong!

    • td says:

      This may be the case. My fundamental belief here is that we have no authority to change the church’s teachings on these sexual issues that have been handed down to us from the apostolic age.

      If we are both wrong, then the safe choice is to not redefine sin. It is simply untenable that a church can disagree with itself on these fundamental issues- unless, of course, you don’t really believe in anything that has been handed down to us.

      • Diane says:

        My devout born-again Christian ancestors sincerely believed that their neighbor was possessed by the devil, consequently giving her special powers to do all kinds of ill-will. They only believed this after their horse unexplainably dropped dead. They held the traditional, biblical understanding of witchcraft, having no idea as to how disease and bacteria could cause their horse to die. Their obviously-demon-possessed neighbor, Elizabeth Howe, was executed as a witch in 1692, Salem, Massachusetts, by those who were certain in their biblical beliefs.

        The pre-scientific, though sincere biblical belief in demonic possession was eventually criticized and rejected.

        Today the argument is over the traditional biblical understanding of sexuality. For most of Christian history, anything other than opposite-sex sexual relationships outside of marriage were evil. Same-sex attraction and relationships are of the devil. It’s an evil, ungodly (of and caused by the devil or demonic possession) “lifestyle choice” say traditionalists.

        “Conversion therapy” or “ex-Gay ministries” are euphemisms for old-fashioned “exorcism” of demonic forces (or the devil) dwelling in evil -doers bodies. Most states allow licensed therapists to engage in such practices. Significantly, a few states have only very recently outlawed the practice.

        When I first realized my older brother was gay nearly fifty years ago, my immediate thought was “he’s not evil”. That that was the first thing that came to mind is indicative of how deeply entrenched this understanding of demonic-causation of same-sex sexuality is in our Judeo-Christian culture. One did not have to be particularly religious to believe that gay people are devil/demon possessed. It was and still is a pervasive understanding of sexuality based on ancient biblical belief.

        But just as the biblical understanding of witchcraft has changed and witch-trials are unheard of now, so, too, is the biblical understanding of sexuality. People like myself experience the scales falling from our eyes as our friends, families, neighbors, and co-workers come out as lgbtq.

        Only in the past fifty years has the lgbtq community become visible as “coming out” becomes more frequent. Use to be a veil of secrecy to avoid persecution and discrimination.

        Traditionalists can’t stop the unveiling and the resulting falling of scales from believers and non-believers eyes. Sexuality and gender/gender identity are not caused by indwelling demons.

        We are in a time of flux, just as in 1692. It took years before people put away their fears and belief of devil-possession created witches in the church, society, and among families, friends and neighbors.

        There’s no going back, no matter how much traditionalists persist.

        • Steve says:

          There’s a Steely Dan song from the first album about the kind of argument you’re making there: “Only a Fool Would Say That”. Great song, give it a listen. If you hadn’t noticed, the world around you is getting worse, not better.

        • td says:

          I am sorry that your ancestor was killed because she was determined to be a witch.

          I am not sure it applies to this situation though because your claim (that i have no reason to doubt) is that your ancestor did not practice witchcraft, which is still sinful today. However, persons who engage in same sex sexual acts are engaging in those acts and claim to do so.

          The difference here is that i think it is a sin and you don’t. I accept your opinion, i just don’t agree with it. You think it is a fact that it isn’t a sin; i still think it is a sin. We are at an impasse.

          I hope you can find some peace.

        • Cara Taylor says:

          Diane, the witchcraft comparison argument is totally and completely ignorant. God’s Word never changes, i.e., God never changes. Regardless of semantics, the Bible is clear. Homosexuality is a sin and will never be blessed by faithful Christians no matter how you try to re-package it.

  5. David says:

    I am a lay person with no degree or title but a child of God, which I hold tightly to. I am saddened by the attempt to glorify sin in our churches. Never have I witnessed the conversation of sin celebrated and encouraged as it has been in this battle. I have heard sin spoken of in testimony as it leads us away from God and separates us from the agape love of our Father and Savior. This will not end well for those advocating for this and those on the traditional side will be injured. No one wins a clear victory in this battle but God will prevail as He always does.

  6. Kevin says:

    This is a good thing. Clarity will make negotiations easier. We will all know where everyone really stands. The less deception there is the better we can talk with one another.

  7. Dan Eischen says:

    It is clear that legislation needs to be presented as the first item of business next May to divide the church into two branches of Methodism. If this does not happen several million dollars will again be wasted, the squabbling will continue and pastors and members will continue to leave the denomination. This will include me as I will leave to find a church to attend where God’s Word is honored and respected. So far, I am very disappointed in my church that ordained me to preach nearly fifty years ago.

    • William says:

      Mike
      Kevin
      Dan,

      AMEN!!!

    • j bowman says:

      since they ordained you that long ago do you feel any type of guilt over all of this ? were there any times you can look back and recognize as times when it was obvious that eyes were turning away from the Truth and Jesus as this was snowballing towards what it has became? this is not something that came about overnight obviously it began with small compromises and or had warning ‘flags’ and possibly if we can today start what maybe should of been done long ago it will help? a zero tolerance to compromise and a teaching of the standards of being and becoming sanctified. idk much but i just felt urged to reply. i pray for the UMC and all organized churches in our land to humble themselves and seek the face of Jesus and to return to desiring to please God instead of man.

  8. bob says:

    Saturday Night Live saw it first. Check out the Youtube SNL posting of “The Bubble” and substitute Mainstream (selectively) United Methodists and all will be clear…

  9. Matt Sandbulte says:

    Here is a far simpler take on the moderate and progressives’ stance post-GC 2019: There has been a deep desire to sustain a unified denomination. Thus these parties invested great energy in trying to pass One Church Plan legislation. It was a way that made room for traditionalists to hold to traditional teaching on ordination and marriage and for progressives to follow their consciences as well. It was an admission that the church is not of one mind on the particular sexuality issues, yet a declaration that we are together in many more beliefs that are integral to discipleship under Christ and the traditions of Methodism. Instead, a different plan was voted in. The TP uses aggressive policy mechanisms to forbid congregations and conferences everywhere from extending marriage and ordination to many Christ-following brothers and sisters. You may be entirely pleased and grateful for that result – obviously it was hard-fought – so congratulations are in order. But how is there any inconsistency and discontinuity of message if moderates and progressives now assess the new circumstances post-Feb 2019 and chart a new course?

    For a rather succinct and transparent summary of where many such people stand in the midst of an obvious need for transition, you may wish to refer to the following points issued this week after the meeting of 600+ folks at the UM Church of the Resurrection.

    “We believe these commitments are essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world:

    1. We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.

    2. We commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

    3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.

    4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.”

    • Eddie Swain says:

      Matt Sandbulte . . . Their first “committnent” clearly demonstrates the progressive departure from Christianity by substituting Scripture for “Experience” in the traditional “three legged stool.” If Scripture is no longer to be even considered as foundational to informing the faith, then how can these people even consider themselves Christian, much less Methodist?

      • Matt Sandbulte says:

        Eddie Swain, I think your eye skipped a line, Scripture is right there at the top in bullet 1. I have no disrespect for you or others taking a more conservative (tradition bound) approach to scripture interpretation. But I think these types of comments that ‘so-and-so have gone off and abandoned scripture’ often miss the mark. Is there any Methodist Christian who doesn’t in some way apply New Testament text to today’s context with some intellectual flexibility? Say, to allow remarriage of divorced believers or allow women to speak in worship?

  10. senecagriggs says:

    Interesting article on the liberal split off from the SBC and what has happened since.

    https://wordandway.org/2018/07/27/looking-ahead-to-what-the-future-holds-for-cbf/

  11. Wayne says:

    Hahaha…..United Methodists for Kairos Response….. should have known this anti-Semitic, Replacement Theology group would jump in with the non Biblical view of things on this subject.

  12. John says:

    How is it that Methodist leaders are even allowed to teach their unbiblical beliefs? We hold those committing sin accountable but not those leaders who support that sin?

  13. James williams says:

    In the words of Doc Holliday, ……well bye. Church has spoken. Abide by church law or feel free to go somewhere else. Got bless

  14. David Livingston says:

    Mark and almost all of us on Mainstream’s board would be happy to affiliate with traditionalists that allow difference of opinion. The traditionalist plan does not allow for that in any meaningful way. You rejected compromise, which is your right to do. Don’t pretend like you’re rejection of compromise means we have rejected you.

    Also, the parliamentary tactics I mentioned exploited the fact that you handed out a checklist to your delegates telling them how to vote on lockstep. It’s not my fault they did exactly what you told them to do.

    • Steve says:

      Please, I’m sure there’s plenty of “differences of opinion” that you do not accept, plus I’m sure you and yours aren’t shy about distributing polling advice yourself. Basically, you reserve the right to organize to yourselves. Textbook case of hypocrisy.

      • David Livingston says:

        Steve, really the answer to that is no. I can sign off on every statement on the WCA beliefs page except for their statement on human sexuality.
        At General Conference, yes of course we Church positions and share those opinions. Our language was always “we recommend…” and then people could make up their own minds. That feels different to me than telling people how to vote without them knowing why they should vote that way.

        • Lee D. Cary says:

          Mr. Livingston:

          You state: “Our language was always “we recommend…” Perhaps.

          But your position’s collective tone and demeanor, sir, has always been “we demand”.

          And this wide difference between language and tone is very significant.

        • Steve says:

          Thanks for providing a little more clarity on what you meant by “allow differences of opinion”, which appears to be, you don’t want sex to be limited to marriage between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, the experience in other denominations has been that once such differences were permitted, they became mandatory. I am also concerned that the only limit on this permissiveness will be the concept of consent, so we can look forward to things like polyamory, polygamy, incest and what is generally considered pedophilia (given current laws regarding ages of consent). Did you hear about that TED talk calling pedophilia an unchangeable natural orientation? Would you also fault traditionalists for not accepting differences of opinion regarding these practices? We are talking about differences in practices, not just some opinions. When I was growing up, parents would often remark that kids were growing up too fast, that they should be able to have a childhood. I still think they should.

    • Creed Pogue says:

      In essence, David is happy to retain any traditionalists who are willing to keep their mourhs shut and open their wallets.

      With that, we are all better to spend our time working out an amicable separation.

    • td says:

      I respectfully submit that it is unteneble that there can be a difference of doctrine within the church on what constitutes a sacramental marriage and whether ot not same sex sexual acts are sinful. Of course individuals may always petsonally disagree, but the church can not have a policy of disagreeing with itself.

      If same sex marriage is allowed somewhere, it has to be recognized everywhere. If same sex sexual acts are holy somewhere, they must be holy everywhere. And most certainly we can agree that our clergy must have basic standards of adhering to their oaths and seeking to live a life in accordance with our doctrines.

      The only way the one church plan was acceptable was if that person believed that same sex sexual acts are holy; obviously, this was not what a majority at GC believed.

    • Steve says:

      Just did a search of this page for the word “reject”. It occurs three time; all three times it was in your comment. So I think you’re unfair to assert that Mr. Lomperis “pretend(ed)” that your side had “reject(ed)” anybody. You’re the one that dealt the rejection card.

  15. Gary Bebop says:

    Thanks, John Lomperis, for pursuing these revelations. You may be uniquely positioned to unmask the tricksters that plot the overthrow and plundering of the church. We must never forget the last day events of GC2019. Contumacy operated in full, lurid spectacle. The record testifies against the center-left claque.

  16. Trish says:

    Too bad the Western Jurisdiction hasn’t come to their conclusions. They are still in denial–the OCP alive and well never mind that it was voted down.

  17. Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary says:

    This is a timely and well-written article. Thank you.

    This decision, announced by “Mainstream UMC,” represents an opportunity to bring an end to the rancorous, growing division that has plagued the denomination for decades.

    Those unsure if they can tolerate the presence of others who do not embrace the same ecclesiastical understanding, practice, and polity concerning homosexuality and transgenderism are, and should be, free to create a new church family with beliefs consistent with their own.

    No one can be, nor should be, required to conform to that with which they do not believe.

    Therefore, Mainstream UMC’s pronouncement should be accepted, not as an impetuous or disingenuous threat, but as a sincere and solemn statement of intent. The intent to split.

    Consequently, the UMC should now prepare to offer reasonable assistance to their departure, rendered from all the denomination’s current operational levels, so as to give aid during the transition to the establishment of a new “denomination” where Mainstream UMC persons can create the sort of church they wish to be.

    Meanwhile, it is time the global UMC enforce the consequences of the decisions made at the 2019 General Conference, post-haste. Any delay will only prolong the rancor and embitter feelings that exists within multiple, strained relationships.

    So – plan and execute a judicious and cordial split – starting now. Please.

    • William says:

      Amen, Dr. Cary.

      It is time. The debate is exhausted. Beating the dead horse must end. Either a negotiated or a non-negotiated petition (if these folks plan to stay an continue the fight), must be presented at General Conference 2020 and get this process underway ASAP.

    • td says:

      Yes, i agree. But the simple fact is that the majority can not determine how the minority should split. I contend that a majority at GC, much less 2/3 of GC, will ever be able to pass a managed splitting that will please the minority.

      I think the minority would be better off if it focused on how the exit provisions could be enhanced with denominational set-up funding and a transition agency for clergy and exiting local churches.

      I realize that the minority now wants to concentrate on a managed splitting probably arranged around letting entire ACs leave with all their local churches. I can’t fathom that a majority at GC would approve any policy that allows any local church to leave the majority UMC without a 2/3 vote.

    • Scott says:

      Rev. Cary, you state that we should accept the results of Mainstream and the traditionalists should leave the church. This is a case of the tail wanting to wag the dog. Have you forgotten that this is an international denomination and is not under the dominion of the US churches. Your attitude is very colonial. Traditionalists have the votes to control the church and will only strengthen their position in the common years. WE ARE NOT LEAVING! We told progressives that we would not accept the OCP and you did not listen. Now we are telling you that we will not leave and you are not listening. Either stay with us and conform to the rules, or leave and create your own progressive denomination that is US based and locks out most of the rest of the world. I am tired of having to hear progressive fantasies about turning the UMC into another progressive denomination. Please give it up and face reality! We have already stated that we will do a fair and equitable split and will even get rid of the UMC so there are no winners and losers. Why not take us up on it. This should not be a winner takes all contest, or a your way or my way battle for control. We all need to take the third option and embrace peace.

    • LB says:

      After decades of praying that somehow the central issue in the UMC fray could be resolved and the church could focus on our mission of bringing the world to know Jesus Christ, I have finally accepted the sad truth. “The issue” that divides us, and that causes us to behave sinfully toward each other, and which paralyzes the UMC for all practical purposes … is genuinely an irreconcilable difference. There is simply no middle ground — either homosexual practice (not same-sex attraction!) is sin, or it isn’t. No half-way point in that juxtaposition exists. If we recognize this as true (and I sincerely and sadly believe it is), then the most God-honoring thing we two warring groups can do is to negotiate a fair (although complex and time-consuming!) and peaceful complete divide, leaving each group free to keep its rightful property and proceed without entanglements, bitterness, or vindictiveness to establish and operate as a complete church, each with its own view of Scripture and its own operational doctrines and faith practices.
      Oh, how very much more pleasing to God would a peaceful divide be, than a never-ending, perpetual, every-4-year war where no permanent resolution is ever accepted as final, and where each group is focused not on the task of introducing the world to Jesus , one person at a time, but on the war that consumes us all !!!!! A total divide, done peacefully, fairly and without rancor, would allow all of us to focus on Jesus, for a change, instead of focusing on each other. I used to think, for decades, that a “church split” would be a tragedy. Now I realize that the true tragedy is a never-ending church war. Please, could we now please just quietly divide?

  18. MikeS says:

    They can’t stand it and must leave? Well I’d be glad to help them pack their things!

  19. Michael Stidham says:

    And it seems to be bearing fruit. One traditionalist pastor, who is on the WCA board, stated in a blog last week that perhaps the time has come to shake hands and walk away while we still can.

  20. J David Trawick says:

    It is long past time for “centrists” and progressives to part company with traditionalists. After a 40 year brawl, let’s stop the bickering and separate peaceably for each of us to do ministry as we feel God has called us. Some have talked about it being like a divorce. I think of it being more like siblings who grew up together, then move away and apart. I love my sister, but we couldn’t possibly live under the same roof.

  21. Victoria Rebeck says:

    If the above-mentioned groups have “declared in no uncertain terms that they ‘cannot’ remain in the same church” as those who disagree with their view of homosexuality and Christian faith, it appears that Good News is of the same sentiment. They recently published an opinion piece by David Watson and Kent Millard, who say, “We have both come to believe, then, that the best course of action would be for The United Methodist Church to enter a formal process of separation.” (See https://goodnewsmag.org/2019/05/case-for-separate-paths/). That Good News would publish this opinion piece indicates that they do not find the suggestion offensive.

    Peace be with you, John.

  22. Byrom Wehner says:

    I’m not sure what the liberals or One-Churchers will do. Their history is that of fighting and willful disobedience. I’m already thinking about my own way forward, but am still not sure what God has in mind for me. I have a Presbyterian girlfriend, who is a Session elder, whose particular congregation has relocated to another nearby city, which is not convenient for her. I don’t know what she might do, but there is an ECO (Evangelical Covenant Order) Presbyterian church close to both of us which could be a compromise – orthodox for this Methodist and Presbyterian for her. Time will tell.

  23. Wade Compton says:

    Another excellent article John. Thank you for your clarity and forthrightness.

  24. Terry says:

    What is the difference between denominations these days? We’re talking about how to split denominations when there is little difference between the denominations anyway. That goes for both conservatives and liberals. If I am liberal, wouldn’t it be easier to join an already existing liberal Presbyterian, Episcopal, UCC, or whatever church than going to all the trouble to try to organize a new liberal Methodist denomination? The same is true for conservatives. Evangelical United Methodist churches are pretty much like evangelical churches in most other denominations. Where is the Calvinism in Presbyterianism, and where are our Wesleyan doctrinal distinctives in Methodism? It seems that making people feel good is the practical theological priority of most any evangelical denomination today. Why bother with retaining anything Methodist these days? It doesn’t mean much to any non-Methodists, and most Methodists don’t seem to understand or even care what is supposed to make Methodism unique.

    • Loren Golden says:

      “Where is the Calvinism in Presbyterianism?”
       
      The Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, to name a few.

  25. John Schuh says:

    These people do not even speak the same language as John and Charles Wesley.

  26. Jon E. Bell says:

    Who re we to change GOD LAW?

  27. Jim says:

    Adam Hamilton doesn’t want to leave because he owes his soul to the company store (Cokesbury)

  28. Terry says:

    I should have asked where Calvinism is in the PCUSA, and where Wesleyan theological distinctives are in the UMC. Like in Presbyterianism, the Wesleyan theological distinctives are proclaimed among other groups, such as the Free Methodists, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, CCCU, AIM, and several others, plus the several Holiness camp meetings, many of which are well over 100 years old and still going strong.

    • Loren Golden says:

      Classical Reformed Theology, such as was taught by John Calvin and professors from the first century of Princeton Seminary’s history—great stalwarts of the faith, such as Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield—has not been taught from the PC(USA)’s seminaries for decades, and I seriously doubt that there are many—if any—who preach it from the PC(USA)’s pulpits today.  Classical Reformed Theology is anathema to the Liberationist Ideology that has captured the heart and soul of the fastest dying branch of American Presbyterianism.  To be sure, Calvin’s name, like those of the Old Princeton professors, are held in high esteem, and Calvin’s works are referenced whenever some current PC(USA) seminary professor wants to try to claim some semblance of link to the modern founder of Reformed thought, but more often than not, such teachings are isolated, torn from their original context in Calvin’s Institutes, Commentaries, Sermons, and other Works, and so twisted to fit the Liberationist context, as to render them unrecognizable to anyone truly steeped in Calvin’s work, or else the forms of Calvin’s thought are emptied of their Biblical content and refilled with meaning relevant only to the passing spirit of this ungodly age.  And the Old Princeton professors?  They are honored in name only.  Alexander’s and Hodge’s names are associated with dormitories on the PTS campus, and Miller’s with the campus chapel, and Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and Benjamin Warfield have donated their names to endowed chairs of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Systematic Theology, and Medieval Church History, respectively, but their theology is not taught as one that ought to be adopted by the PC(USA) today.  To paraphrase the words of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 15.8-9), “Contemporary PC(USA) Presbyterians honor the Calvin and Old Princetonians with their lips, but their hearts are far from them, … teaching as Reformed Theology the commandments of Liberationist Ideology.”

  29. Skipper says:

    These poor people have rebelled against God and grumbled for a lifetime. They finally realize that they can’t order us around. Since they can’t accept God’s way of life for families and the natural order of things, it’s good that they realize how incompatible they are with us.

  30. Mike says:

    The current debate in the Methodist church is offensive to anyone who believes that mankind was made in the image of God; that we are sentient, rational beings whose purpose is more than just sexual activity.

    As a heterosexual man who has not yet had sex (because I’m not yet married), I have spent most of my adult life pursuing the heart of God – and trying to share that heart with those that do not yet know Him. I never asked anyone who they were attracted to or wanted to have sex with, largely because it was none of my business and I didn’t care. I do believe that this topic is private, and no one has the right to ask another “which way they swing”, so to speak. However, I do also believe that marriage was intended for one man and one woman, for LIFE. The Bible seems pretty clear on this to me.

    What is also clear, however, is that we are a very sinful people (of which I am the worst). Our hearts are inherently far from God; we all do, say, and think things that break His heart. Our frame of reference is most often not, “what does God want for my life”, but rather “what do I want for my life”. So as Christians, we seem to spend an inordinate amount of thought on how we can justify our desires and behavior as though it was ‘OK’ to God.

    As a result, we spend our time debating and voting on things that are of lesser importance than the Great Commandment. What a waste of time!

    My question for those who would mire our denomination in issues of sexual preference is this: Do you truly believe that God is alive, that Jesus is your living savior, and that He wants the best for you? Do you believe that He is the Great Provider, as it says in the OT?

    Because if you are focusing on minor issues that have already been resolved in God’s Word, you are missing the point – and missing out on what you are called by God to do and be.

    This, unfortunately, seems to encompass all of us, regardless of which side of the US political “aisle” we are on. “There is no one righteous; not even one.” (Rom 3:10) What a poor example we are to the world filled with not-yet-believers! Where is our witness to the greatness of God and the atonement given to us in Jesus?

  31. Child of God says:

    My Brother Mike, and all those who love Jesus and His Word, as it is:

    Thank you for your clarity of thought. And thank you for standing on the Words of Jesus, for they are clear to believers who are seeking His will, not their own.

    The UMC Conservatives need to stand strong for Jesus, without blinking, just as our Brothers and Sisters in Africa did at the recent Conference. God’s Word doesn’t change; man’s will changes as he tries to justify his sins. We need to stand strong on God’s Word.

  32. Raymond says:

    I wonder how the devil (yes, he is real) got the UMC into taking all this rubbish. If I remember correctly from the Screwtape Letters it was the junior devil’s responsibility to trick the Christain into thinking he was doing right when he was, in fact, doing wrong. Seems to me that this is exactly where we are today.
    Joshua 24:15 (King James Version)
    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
    Make it happen, people and stop talking about it!

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