June 18, 2019

Prominent Liberal Caucus Leader Publicly Gives Up and Leaves UMC

Dr. Dorothee Benz, a prominent LGBTQ activist in the United Methodist Church (UMC), is leaving the denomination after many years of leading resistance efforts. Dr. Benz publicly announced her decision to resign her membership from the UMC by publishing a letter she handed to Bishop Bickerton of the New York Annual Conference.

In the letter, Benz, who is lesbian, describes her identity as a lifelong United Methodist and her years of both personal and public struggle with a church that does not support the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” She currently works as Chief Communications Officer for Lambda Legal, a national legal organization that advocates and litigates for LGBTQ causes. Benz said she has dedicated the last 15 years of her life “to right the immense wrong that the UMC has done to God’s creation with its theological lies and spiritual violence aimed at LGBTQ people.”

Benz was a founder and served as the first chairperson for Methodists in New Directions (MIND) from 2006 to 2014, a regional organization of United Methodists based out of New York that advocates for full affirmation and inclusion of LGBTQ people in the denomination. Benz also wrote for Reconciling Ministries Network, wrote and gave sermons for MIND, and was a frequent speaker at progressive United Methodist conferences.

In the comments of Benz’s Facebook post, Chett Pritchett wrote “Welcome to the club.” Pritchett was until 2016 the national director of the UMC’s oldest unofficial liberal caucus, the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). But he recently quit the denomination in protest of his group’s failure to overturn the church’s traditional, biblical standards on marriage and sex. Time will tell how many other hardline liberal activists will follow suit. As of this writing, his comment was the most liked one out of 86 made.

Elected as a lay General Conference delegate for 2016, Benz helped coordinate not only workshops and retreats for like-minded liberals, but also planned and led well-publicized disruptive protests at the global gathering. In 2016 she also disrupted a meeting of the Council of Bishops with a bull horn, to make demands concerning the Commission on a Way Forward.

She represented New York again in 2019 at General Conference and backed the Simple Plan, even giving a speech that led to the highly progressive plan getting a fair amount of attention despite having no chance of passing. After the passage of the Traditional Plan, she and other liberals protested on the stage, again unwilling to accept the body’s vote.

However with the passage of the Traditional Plan, Benz has had enough and is giving up the fight. Her statement notes how “the energy and time and resources of thousands” of liberal United Methodists is now “being poured into electing 2020 General Conference delegates and looking, delusionally, at that gathering for hope.” But for her part, she “can no longer participate in this charade.”

It is rather striking to see a liberal United Methodist leader of her prominence describe current efforts to overturn the Traditional Plan at the next General Conference as a “delusional” waste of time, in what she characterizes as a denomination unable to learn.

She accuses bishops of leading an institutional idolization of unity to that harms LGBTQ people such as herself, saying that they have “perverted the ideal of unity as to make it synonymous for queer Methodists with injustice.” To conclude she wrote, “I can no longer put my time and energy into a church obsessed with its own self-interest while injustice around me rises like flood waters. My call to follow Jesus is no longer compatible with my participation in the United Methodist Church.”

65 Responses to Prominent Liberal Caucus Leader Publicly Gives Up and Leaves UMC

  1. Mike says:

    The UMC has hardly done any harm to LGBTQ, or if it has, it is because of people like this woman, who cannot see the truth of Scripture when she stares at it. She studies only the parts she likes, and throws the rest away.

    Jesus did not give any encouragement to gays, and you can’t argue that He did, simply because the rest of the Bible does not support the idea that He would have.

    It is best that she quit the denomination. She has done enough harm. May many more follow her, if they do not repent and turn from their wicked ways.

    • Nick Abbot says:

      Mike, Jesus didn’t lend you even a smidgen of encouragement. Guess you’ll have to commit hari kiri. Sad. Well, maybe you could avoid that. There’s a congregation of snake handlers awaiting your arrival.

    • Walter Pryor says:

      Sex is a very strong emotion. People do not realize how much of an addiction it can become.
      Homosexuality is an addiction. For all of human history all cultures have realized this and marginalized homosexuals. Why? Because homosexuality leads to death not life. Just look up sexually transmitted diseases reports. Look up CDC sexual diseases spreading. In every report one group is always prominent, homosexuals.

  2. Non-Christian female who presents herself like a male leaves UMC . . . sounds good to me!

  3. Linda says:

    Praying the the eyes of her heart will be opened the the TRUTH of scripture and she will find her identity in Christ. May she truly repent of her rebellion toward her creator and be deliver from the deception of the enemy who holds her captive. In Jesus name Amen.

  4. MikeS says:

    At least she’s principled, unlike normal liberals who stay in a denomination and keep banging away until they take control of the buildings and the money.

  5. Winnie Landsverk says:

    God will have the last say when she stands before Him. My prayer is that she will accept all of Gods word as the ultimate truth and not just the parts she tries to interpret as her sinful nature imparts. Now if more will take her lead and follow another path besides the UMC.

  6. Jo says:

    I’m sorry but I believe Jesus said to love everyone as yourself, and he NEVER said that homosexuality was wrong. And if you believe Leviticus I suppose you will sell your daughter into slavery or Stone your son? Because that was ok, too. And how DARE you refer to LGBTQ people as “morons” with wicked ways! I don’t think God has abdicated his throne to you Mr. Self-Righteous Holier than Thou!

    • Mike says:

      If, as II Tim. 3:16 says, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (literally “God-breathed), since Jesus is God, He most certainly did condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms, by including them TWICE in the list of people who.based on their lifestyles, will not go to heaven.

    • Wayne says:

      Leviticus is concerned with the Mosaic Covenant, which as Gentile Believers we are not under. We are under the Messianic Covenant however, which instead of 613 laws (Mosaic) there are over 1,100! The Apostle Paul had a LOT to say about homosexuality being a sin. The church follows society downhill, only 15 years later. Thus this is where we are now.

      • Walter Pryor says:

        Jesus said; ” I do not do anything except what the Father tells me.” Jesus also said; “When you look upon me you see the Father.” Jesus fulfilled the old testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah.
        You cannot separate the old testament God from Jesus!

    • Palamas says:

      Jesus never said bestiality, or pedophilia, or necrophilia, or any of a number of other obviously sinful behaviors were wrong, Should we assume then that He approved of those, as well?

    • David Gingrich says:

      The Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament say that homosexual practice is wrong. If you reject that truth, you reject the truth of the entire Bible, including Christ’s words.

    • Charles Klink says:

      I don’t remember Jesus saying it was right, either. But Jesus did support the Old Testament and said for us to love all persons…love persons, yes…but not their sins and failure to repent for sins of commission and omission.

  7. Lee D. Cary says:

    “…she characterizes as a denomination unable to learn.”

    This from the learned Reverend Doctor Benz whose arrogant self-righteousness becomes thoroughly transparent.

    May she be the first of many to find solace in a “denomination” of their liking.

    • Joan Wesley says:

      What an unhappy life she leads; constantly frustrated and angry that not everybody sees things from her perspective!

  8. Happy Camper says:

    One down, a ton left.

  9. Marilyn Davis says:

    The previous comments are from fundamentalists who could never be Methodists. They stand for things John Wesley stood against. Wesley was not a literalist. Wesley stood for love and inclusion. My heart is breaking for this young person.

    • Mike says:

      I seriously doubt that Wesley would have had any sympathy for the idea that gays should be welcomed and affirmed in the Methodist Church. He had more regard for the truth of God’s word than that.

    • Dean_from_Ohio says:

      Actually he stood for holiness. The movement’s motto was “Holiness Unto the Lord.” I don’t hear much about holiness from the leftists in the UMC or any other denomination. Holiness >> “Inclusion”

      Repent and believe the gospel!

    • Mike.W says:

      “It is clear from an examination of the writings as well as the practices of John Wesley, especially as he guided the moral and religious life of the Methodist societies, that he rejected as a missing of the mark all human sexual activity that was not a part of a covenanted marriage between a man and a woman. In Wesley’s estimation, such sexual activity had no positive moral status. It was neither given by God at creation nor taken up into covenant and declared holy. Wesley’s judgment, then, is evident not only in his commentary on key New Testament passages; but it is also manifested in his vigorous appeal to the moral law of Scripture as well as to the natural law of a created order. His employment of the latter, that is natural law, was evident not only in the first two precepts of The General Rules of the United Societies but also in a more formal way in his arguments against slavery. ”

      Wesleyan Maxims
      Sexual Relations Between Man and Woman (Husband and Wife)

      Sexual Relations Between Man and Man; Woman and Woman
      Rooted in a Created Order

      In Harmony with the Eternal and Moral Law

      In Accordance with Natural Law

      Affirmed by the Four Witnesses of Natural Law

      Is Biologically Grounded and Productive of Children

      The Spiritual Dimensions of the Marital Relation are Taken Up into Covenant

      Is a Reflection of Trinitarian Relations

      Celebrated in Scripture

      Affirmed by Jesus Christ

      Human Sexuality and the Unity of the Church
      Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness
      Kenneth J. Collins

    • Russell says:

      John Wesley preached the Bible, and he preached that homosexuality was a sin. Look it up. HIs teachings are the foundations of the UMC, or are supposed to be.

      • Fletcher says:

        This is the problem. We need to stop looking at what people teach or taught – Dr. Benz or John Wesley. His teachings are not the foundations of our church. the Bible is. Solo Scriptura! Please everyone return to the scriptures. Study TRUTH. There is unity – in the Lord alone.

    • Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret.) says:

      Been called other things, but never a “fundamentalists,” Marilyn.

      But wouldn’t be ashamed if I was one.

      • Patrick98 says:

        Everyone is a fundamentalist, including Marilyn. Everyone has a fundamental set of principles below which they will not go.

    • Dr. Charles Klink says:

      Wesley also talked and commanded for us to be aware of our being imperfect people (Wesley never forgot that Savannah pastorate…plenty of personal sin and human failure on his part there!!…and the lesson-learned about human imperfection…)and the need to always be aware of human sin amidst our daily living and serving God.

    • Walter Pryor says:

      John Wesley and his brother would be shocked at the degradation of Methodism.
      Wesley’s love concerned the poor and oppressed, not the sexually deviant.
      This misinterpretation of love comes from Satan. Love does not justify sin of any kind.

    • Keith says:

      Wesley’s sermons listed sodomy right after murder I believe. It’s been a while since I read them .

  10. senecagriggs says:

    The people in the pews won’t follow.

  11. Genesis Granadosin says:

    She should tell and convince the gay people in the UMC to join her and leave the Denomination, form their own Church and be at peace . This way the UMC can focus more on the true ministry of Evangelism and Discipleship.

  12. Jack says:

    We are better off rid of hyperpolitical, radical divisive name callers such as this.

  13. Rodney Akers says:

    She should acknowledge authority of Bible, the lifesyle is a sin, admit being a sinner repent and ask Jesus to deliver and direct her future life, walk in His foot steps with a transformed life style and remain in the Church. No one is beyond the saving Grace
    of Jesus until their last breath.

  14. Diane says:

    I recently asked an evangelical (who was insisting that God sends unrepentant homosexuals to an eternity in hell) if God would send Alan Turing, a gay man who along with his team, was credited with breaking the German code that scholars believe brought WWII to a quicker end (by years) and no doubt saved countless thousands of lives, to an eternal hell because he happened to be gay.

    The evangelical Christian couldn’t answer.

    Anyone else care to try?

    • mamaditto says:

      Diane, the answer to your question depends on the condition of Mr.Turing’s heart toward Jesus. (cf. Jn 3:36). If he was an unbeliever, then your friend was right.
      Your statement presupposes that God thinks the way men think and that He is somehow obligated to reward us with eternal bliss because of doing something “good” during the brief period of time we spend on earth.
      On our best day we cannot compare with God’s holiness (Isa 64:6). This why it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die on our behalf. (Eph 1:7)

    • Steve says:

      Nobody can say in any case who does and doesn’t go to heaven. Only God decides that and he isn’t saying. Mr. Turing is no exception. I could give some pretty extreme hypotheticals involving historical persons that people assume are in hell for sure but want to stay out of trouble. Of course as much as and possibly more than most cases I hope Turing is in heaven. I do not consider him being a practicing homosexual to be an absolute bar, but have to concede the Bible suggests at a minimum that it doesn’t help. Remember the Bible saying that it is better to pluck out your eye than have it cause you to be damned; giving up an activity is nothing compared to plucking out one’s eye. I will grant you that an occasional outlier fundamentalist will occasionally claim to know if somebody’s in hell; if your fundamentalist was of that variety he deserved your scorn.

    • Mike says:

      Works do not get anyone into heaven. If Mr. Turing was not a born again saved person, he did not go to Heaven. That is irregardless of his lifestyle.

    • Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret.) says:

      Diane, the sad fate of Alan Turing is irrelevant to the current LGBTQAI+ debate in the UMC. Brit law changes, as did the anti-gay law in Germany (in 1950)

      One person’s statement does not a comprehensive, enlightened argument make.

      You should know that, Diane.

    • Dr. Charles Klink says:

      “Baiting” persons is not exactly a scholarly approach…but it does show the tactics reactionaries will use to win…fair? …who said life was fair! But we are not responding to their comments (that’s their perception) …we are defending our faith and scriptural teachings– if persons rake it personal, that’s on them.

  15. Jemmie Reynolds says:

    Anyone who thinks Wesley was “inclusive” simply has not studied Wesley’s history. Wesley reached out into the streets and desired that all be saved but when they became part of a “society,” they had rigorous standards by which they had to live. At one point the members were issued tickets that allowed them to be members. If you did not maintain daily devotions or were found to be immoral, you lost your ticket.

    I’m not advocating such stringent rules, but I do tire of people trying to point to Wesley in support of their agendas.

  16. Cynthia Campbell says:

    Lesbians (dykes), gays, transgenders, atheists destroyed the Presbyterian, Episcopal, and more recently, the Methodist church. Our small but very conservative, family-oriented church in Webb City, Missouri was torn apart when a Black, Lesbian, anti-American single mother of one child was forced on our church by ‘higher ups’ with whom we had had a recent dispute. She removed the American flags from the church and preached about ‘white privilege and intolerance ‘ until most members left. This was 7 years ago and the church is still bitter and divided. Godless people seem to make it their mission to destroy all that is Godly.

    • Charles Klink says:

      I am from Iowa and was appointed in my 4th year of ministry to a church exactly as you describe…called names, life threatened, each week sermon content publicly criticized and shouted at/about, the group trying to set church on fire at one point (caught it in time) American flag removed, Christian flag removed…and many other public and private protesting of myself as well as Christian faith — after 6 months of diverse efforts/protests, they finally left…today the church is still there — the protestors have scattered and are, as far as I know, still fighting their political-radical protesting.. but they are no longer hiding behind the guise of Christianity.

  17. John Smith says:

    Why do you believe this: “I believe Jesus said to love everyone as yourself, and he NEVER said that homosexuality was wrong.”? This is only a true statement if Jesus is not God. If he isn’t God who cares what he said? Or, it is only true if the Bible is not true, in which case how do you know what Jesus said? Or if the Bible is not God’s word, again, then who cares what it says?
    One can make a case for homosexuality but one cannot make such a case within biblical Christianity.

  18. Sam says:

    My former denomination, the Episcopal church, would welcome her with open arms- even let her be a priestess. So why is the UMC seeking some form of unity with the Episcopal church?

  19. Dorothee Benz says:

    Hi. Just a note: I’m not a liberal. I’m a radical. Liberal institutionalists have been the target of my strongest critiques in the UMC. Would appreciate a correction. 🙃

    • Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary says:

      Liberal. Progressive. Radical. A rose by any other name…

    • Steve says:

      Duly noted. What’s your definition of radical, even more leftist and confrontational than liberal? Do you also have problems with the article’s usage of the word liberal when not referring to yourself? They really can’t be in the business of correctly guessing each person’s preferred termiology of liberality or progressiveness for every person implicated in the article at any particular moment. Does the smiley face mean you’re not serious? I hope so.

    • Jim says:

      You are also and idolater. You worship the idol of sexual identity. Please stop referring to Jesus calling on your life. His calling is for your repentance and turning from your selfish wicked ways.

    • Translation:
      A “radical” is a worldly individual inside the pale of the Church of Jesus Christ whose sole intent and purpose is to subvert the Church, as a social institution, to service and promote his or her worldly agenda, and who has no regard for, let alone any genuine understanding of, “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), in fact seeing said faith as an impediment to accomplishing his or her stated intent and purpose.
      Conversely, a “liberal” is a worldly individual inside the pale of the Church of Jesus Christ who has no better grasp than the “radical” of the faith once delivered to the saints, but thinks he or she does, shares the “radical’s” worldly convictions and agenda, but not as overtly, and is much more prone to soft-peddle them.  The “liberal” values the friendship and insights of both “radicals” and “traditionalists” (at least those “traditionalists” not inclined to run them out of town on a proverbial rail) and think the Church of Jesus Christ would best be served by “radicals” and “traditionalists” worshiping side-by-side and learning from one another’s “perspectives”, in the rarified air of a church under wise, “liberal” governance, all the while blissfully ignorant of the Lord’s stern warnings against consulting the world’s wisdom (Rom. 12.1-2, I Cor. 1.18-25, Jas. 4.4, I Jn. 2.15-17).

    • Jon says:

      Dr. Benz, I pray for you and lift you up to the Lord, that your life be filled with love, peace, joy and hope for a wonderful future in the name of Jesus Christ, who is fully man and fully God. I pray that you have a life changing encounter with Jesus.

  20. Donald says:

    To my UMC Traditional colleagues: the key is going to be how the new plan is enforced. The enforcement will have to be fair and firm in order to be effective and demonstrate the required level of integrity.

  21. Nate says:

    well…. bye.

  22. Donald says:

    It continues to puzzle me that those who desire to live a profligate lifestyle typically don’t give Scripture much authority, except when they are absolutely sure that neither Jesus nor the Bible explicitly, thoroughly and satisfactorily condemned their specific behavior and attitude.

    • They still do not “give Scripture much authority,” even then.  Their sole purpose in making such statements is much the same as their father’s, when he asked of the woman in the Garden, “Did God actually say…?”  That is, they seek to sow discord and mistrust in the plain teachings of the Word of God.

  23. David says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. A pity that progressive Episcopalians had not done the same thing. Instead they took over the denomination and wrecked it.

  24. Gary Smith says:

    Buh bye…..

  25. Lynn says:

    The power source behind the LGBTQAI+ movement is satan. The father of lies as Jesus called him. The power source behind those of us seeking to take up our cross and follow Jesus daily, is the God of creation and sole owner of everything that exists. The battle raging is between light and darkness, and anyone who can read and does read the bible, knows that God wins. Sin and death have been conquered through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross paying the cost of salvation for everyone who truly believes. Jesus knows who truly believes. He gave us a clue by telling us that if you love me you will obey my commands. Daily, continual, God directed repentance is a hallmark of true believers. Anyone choosing to live in sin and refusing the call of the Holy Spirit to truly repent and follow Jesus is literally taking their lives into their own hands. And they apparently don’t love Jesus. Jesus loves each of us enough to let us make own choices. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The individual must open the door to Jesus. All the arguments back and forth among people are really a diversion from the real battle. It is between Jesus and satan. Jesus knows who side each person is on and what each of us think doesn’t matter. Jesus will decide where every individual resides for eternity and works will be of no consequence. Only faith in Jesus Christ will make any difference. Each individual has a clue as to where their eternal home is by the peace and serenity they have in their conscience, relationship and trust in Jesus. Please do not let satan fool any of you.

  26. Tom says:

    Good. For someone who claims to preach “love,” she has shown nothing but bitter hatred towards those on the other side of the aisle.

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