UMC disaffiliation

October 9, 2019

Liberal Congregations in Five States Move towards Leaving UMC

Recently at least eleven liberal United Methodist congregations in five different states, from the Deep South to the far North, have publicly announced that they are taking at least initial steps towards leaving the United Methodist Church. These moves are all being made directly in protest over our denomination’s continued official traditionalist policies on marriage and sexual morality. Eight of these eleven congregations are formally affiliated with the LGBTQ-liberationist Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).

On September 8, members of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church in Savannah, Georgia, voted by a whopping 309-7 to disaffiliate from the UMC.

Then on September 17, the church council of Central United Methodist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina reportedly issued statements indicating its intentions to not remain affiliated with a denomination that maintains the UMC’s traditional biblical standards on marriage and sexual morality.

Then on September 26, nine New England congregations, located across Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, announced that they have all begun a process of discerning whether or not to disaffiliate from our denomination, based on having thus far decided “that their understanding of human sexuality and God’s inclusive love is in direct and potentially irreconcilable conflict with the policies and practices of The United Methodist Church.”

Will Green, a prominent gay activist and provisional elder in the New England Conference currently serving one of these congregations, issued a press release on behalf of this group of nine, and the United Methodist News Service promptly published its own report.

Each of these eleven congregations has in various ways indicated that these matters will not be finalized before the May 2020 session of General Conference. However, there are plenty of indications that their resolve is much stronger than the church equivalent of blustery guys insincerely mouthing off in a bar.

The official announcement of Asbury Memorial UMC in Georgia makes clear that this was a formal vote taken of their congregation, that their district superintendent was there to facilitate the meeting, that over 97 percent of the voting members of this good-sized congregation voted “to become an independent church” rather than “remain United Methodist,” and that this was in direct protest over the 2019 General Conference’s adoption of the Traditional Plan.

This was much more than a rash, spur-of-the-moment decision. This congregation’s newsletter outlined how this step was taken in a rather deliberate manner in a formal “church conference” apparently convened per ¶248 of the UMC Discipline. Members were informed of the coming church conference and vote in an August letter. The church newsletter issue published before the vote dedicated five pages to preparing for it and provided contact information for the district superintendent for any concerned members to share questions or comments. Before the big vote, Asbury Memorial held multiple “informational sessions” and “discussion group opportunities.” Congregational leaders also counted the cost, openly telling members ahead of the vote that the price of their disaffiliating from the UMC would be $280,000, “due in the spring of 2020.”

For his part, Asbury Memorial UMC’s pastor, Billy Hester, admitted to his flock, “It became clear at the 2019 General Conference that due to the large number of delegates from overseas, this inclusion [he desired on LGBTQ liberation] will not happen as the denomination exists presently.”

So the lifelong Methodist declared, “I cannot in good conscience continue pastoring in a denomination that does not fully include LGBTQ people” and announced his intention to personally quit our denomination in June 2020. But he also expressed willingness to continue as the congregation’s pastor if they followed him out of the UMC, as they have now voted to do.

The New Englanders also appear to be pursuing this in a deliberate manner. Their press release reported that pastors as well as key laypeople from these nine congregations “have been meeting almost weekly since April 2019.”

One key factor for them is that at its 2019 annual conference session, the New England Conference added a harsh new policy of imposing heavy burdens, on top of those already specified in the 2019 General Conference’s Gracious Exit policy, to make it much more difficult for any congregation to leave. (These New England burdens are presently being appealed to the Judicial Council.) Perhaps this group of nine would have been joined by a larger number of other like-minded congregations if it were not for this heavy-handed New England Conference policy, which includes requiring congregations considering disaffiliation to first “undergo a discernment process of not less than eight months.” While these congregations have made clear that they have not finalized any decisions, their willingness to take the first steps in the disaffiliation process even knowing all the barriers thrown in their way suggests a genuine depth of commitment to their values that may be even more important to them than keeping the “United Methodist” name.

The New England congregations shared in their press release that their goal is “to embody the values and commitments articulated in a proclamation entitled ‘Loved and Liberated,’ released in May 2019 by a group called UM-Forward.” This “Loved and Liberated” manifesto, about which we have previously reported, features talk of “the Queer Christ,” stating “The greatest threat to queer liberation is centrism, not conservatism,” and making it very clear that it is “non-negotiable” for this manifesto’s signers in which there is no room for clergy and congregations who are not affirming of homosexual practices.

With such commitments, Green told United Methodist News Service that these congregations were coming to see that “we might have irreconcilable differences and it’s time to go.” We previously reported on Green’s calling for his liberal-dominated annual conference to boycott the 2020 General Conference by refusing to send delegates.

As for Central UMC in South Carolina, this congregation’s leadership is not emphasizing potential disaffiliation as much in the forefront.

Pastor Tom Norrell, expressed hope to one media outlet that the 2020 General Conference would result in “adopting the ‘One Church Plan,’” the plan rejected at the 2019 General Conference which would have liberalized the denomination’s policies on homosexuality to a significantly greater degree than the liberalizing changes which split apart the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

However, Central UMC’s lay leader, Dr. John Simmons, made clear, “If the General Conference does not reverse the decision made in February 2019,” then the congregation “will seek affiliation with a more affirming, more welcoming connection.”

The Central UMC church council as a whole reportedly declared, “If great progress is not made in eliminating hurtful language toward LGBTQ+ people and if the United Methodist Church doesn’t move dramatically toward more inclusion of LGBTQ+ people at General Conference 2020, the Church Council of Central United Methodist Church will recommend that the congregation vote to ‘disaffiliate’ with the U.M.C” (emphases added). While acknowledging a range of possibilities, this same statement continued, “Whatever the mechanism, the Church Council wishes for Central to follow the most inclusive option available at the close of General Conference 2020.”

In another recent interview, Norrell observed “a feeling of urgency” among some liberal United Methodists, such that “a lot of the progressives are going to be leaving as institutions or individuals” if the denomination does not officially liberalize its sexuality standards soon. Norrell described the Traditional Plan as provoking a “crisis” in his own congregation, in which “we had some progressives tell us if we didn’t make a statement they would consider leaving.”  While acknowledging reluctance about leaving the United Methodist Church, Norrell cited liberals following their conscience with regard to standards on marriage and sexuality as ultimately a greater value.

These are just eleven liberal United Methodist congregations of which there have been recent, confirmed public reports that I have personally seen. While I am generally not invited into private discussions among liberal activists, I expect that no one has a precise statistical measurement on the extent to which such conversations are happening in other liberal congregations. The aforementioned UM Forward group now has an online survey for liberal United Methodist individuals and congregations considering leaving the UMC. But it is not clear how much of the intended audience is even aware of this survey.

Some annual conferences, including South Georgia and Michigan, have recently moved to adopt their own policies for congregations disaffiliating from the denomination. The core of such policies may remain in some annual conferences, regardless of what happens with recent questions about the legal status of the Gracious Exit legislation passed by the 2019 General Conference.

I have previously reported on how ten of our denomination’s most liberal U.S. annual conferences, including New England, have recently begun exploring leaving the denomination as entire annual conferences. In that article, I begged readers to take a gracious attitude, and avoid such ugly loveless rhetoric as telling adherents of potentially departing churches “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” – whether it is liberals saying that to departing traditionalists or vice-versa.

As we continue to move toward a parting of ways, the same caution against being ugly to each other, and horrible witnesses to a watching world, applies just as much here.


61 Responses to Liberal Congregations in Five States Move towards Leaving UMC

  1. “The New England congregations shared in their press release that their goal is “to embody the values and commitments articulated in a proclamation entitled ‘Loved and Liberated,’ released in May 2019 by a group called UM-Forward.” This “Loved and Liberated” manifesto, about which we have previously reported, features talk of “the Queer Christ,””

    These people worship their sexual perversions, not Jesus.

    This is great news for the UMC. The more that leave, the better. The real Christians in the U.S. UMC should thank God daily for the Bible-believing Africans that have kept the denomination from complete apostasy.

    • Lee D. Cary says:

      “The real Christians in the U.S. UMC should thank God daily for the Bible-believing Africans that have kept the denomination from complete apostasy.”

      Right, but that would mean that the LBGTQAI+ movement would need to recognize the African UM’s as equal, in all regards, to the largely white, pro-One Church Plan contingent. Not going to happen.

      • Karen Ogden says:

        If God says it is wrong it is wrong. You can not continue to twist the scriptures around to accommodate the worldly ways.

        • Steve Kamerick says:

          I agree with Karen and obeying what God says……… the final comment in the article is worth reading over and over to yourself while you and I re-examine ourselves since we are ambassadores of Christ, and the world does watch all of us on both sides of the fence. What did Jesus say when asked how others would know we are christians? Well he said they would know because we love one another. The closing paragraph of this article read: “As we continue to move toward a parting of ways, the same caution against being ugly to each other, and horrible witnesses to a watching world, applies just as much here.” we don’t agree with those who desire sinful homosexual lifestyle but they are caught in a sinful influence that the devil controls. We still love them and pray that our example of caring about them is stronger than Satan’s hate that involves the weak sex dominated influence. WE need not judge or condemn with cruelty. We all have a hard time understanding how this works but following Jesus’ commands and example will bring Glory and respect to our God and Father in Heaven.

          • Phyl C says:

            I agree with your commentary. I have no problem with them coming into our church. That’s where we all need to be growing in Christ. However I do have a problem with them being behind the pulpit teaching/preaching their beliefs. Everyone needs to know what God’s word says including not sitting in judgment. That’s not our job. That’s up to God.

    • JR says:

      “The real Christians in the U.S. …”

      I love the language. Keep going. No need to hold back.

    • Larry C says:

      You are so right. How about conforming to Scripture? These folks are taking their guidance from the Gay manifesto. Good riddance.

    • Paul Rairden says:

      It is surprising to me that that many people do not know the Bible and definitely are not being deciples of Jesus the Christ.

      • Barbara Gooby says:

        I agree Paul. It’s appalling that so-called “Christians” spew vitriol and hatred are glad to see those who follow the teachings of Jesus (i.e., the New Testament) — that is, real Christians — leave and make the painful decision that the current UMC does not follow Jesus. Jesus’s teachings are love for all, the poorest, the sickest, the Gentile, the Jew, the Samaritan… these are the people Jesus preached to and about. For we are all Children of God, and loved by God, even if not by our fellow man.

    • Dot says:

      The Bible is crystal clear about sexual practices, and it is crystal clear that sex between two males or two females is wrong. And it is clear that we should love the person, adhere to the Bible teachings, and abhor the abnormal practices. I find it interesting that the majority of these confused people have experienced sexual abuse or other trauma at some point in their lives. It is of interest that no studies have been done to document the prevalence of sexual abuse and other trauma among gays and lesbians and queers and transgenders.

      • Your confident stance is overstated. Nothing transcends the law of love (ie the Law of Christ) As I stated to someone at our denominational meeting in Jacksonville, “some people would not mind if gay people went to hell as long as they were trying to be straight.” Where is the “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” among some of you who name the Name of Jesus? Have you ever read the parable in the Brothers’ Karamatzov where the “righteous” enter the halls of judgment, all happy until some of those they don’t see as worthy, you know perhaps like the LGBTQ community, enter the halls and they begin to protest to Jesus about the presence of those they thought deserved hell? According to the story, at that moment, they are damned because they begrudged God’s mercy and preferred human judgment? Well?????

  2. Sam says:

    Can you report on what is happening in the Florida churches?

  3. John C Mech says:

    I belong to a church that has become ‘Pro-Gay” and I am NOT happy. Years ago, it was not publicized what orantion you were and everyone got along fine. The church of today seems to be putting LGBTQ people on a pedastil. Not the way to go. As a result, I rare attend church anymore. Plus this church is dying a slow death going from 2,000 members 25 years ago to less then 500 today.

    • Barbara Gooby says:

      I don’t consider us pro-gay — just pro-human — because we are all children of God. You, me, gay people, black people, people with handicaps, Arabs, Chinese… every single person alive is a child of God, and therefore is loved by God. If you choose not to believe that, then you should please not call yourself a Christian, because that is truly what Jesus Christ taught us.

      • Dot says:

        Yes, we are all children of God and should love one another, but that does not mean that we should promote abnormal sexual practices, and the Bible is crystal clear about loving the person, but not the sin. And the Bible is clear that sexual intercourse is to be between a man and a woman, not between two men or two women.

        • I am afraid the Bible is not as clear as you suppose on that matter. We are commanded to love and we are commanded not to judge. If you care about the souls of the LGBTQ community, you will love them into faith in our gracious Savior and let God take care of the behavior changes. Stop being like a Pharisee lest you find yourself on the outside looking in. Pray if you really believe and let Holy Spirit fight the battles that need to be fought.

  4. Jim says:

    Good riddance!

    • barbara walts says:

      I agree “Good Riddance”!!! Every year at Conference they push the issue! I’m embarrassed of the UMC. Thank God for the African Conference. I have been Methodist for over 40 years but as soon as they officially embrace the LGBTQwhatever else they decide to tack on I will have to leave.

      • Alice S. Burris says:

        +As a member of one of the disaffiliating churches in this blog, I would like to just tell these “real Christians” the following which I say with great love:1) One person stated that when our LBGTQ+ were “in the closet” that all was “just fine”. For whom; all the heterosexuals in the congregations? Yes, but how about those who were not free to be their best true self or serve in the church if they were “out”. 2) “Good riddance”; is this the language of love that Christ teaches? 3) If some of these people would do some reading, they would see that the preponderance of studies/evidence shows that sexual orientation is predetermined in-utero. So why such vitriol against fellow people of faith that they do not have a choice in. In closing, I would rather continue to sit beside and worship with the wonderful LGBTQ+ members of my congregation, than the mean-spirited responses here. And I make these observations as an older, white, heterosexual person. of faith.

        • Trent says:

          If a person has a persistent urge to commit adultery, what should the person do about that? Should she stay “in the closet,” trying to work through the temptation to do evil? Or should she declare that she is an adulterer and proud of it—that to be her “best self” she must not only embrace her identity as an adulterer but that all around her must also celebrate her fleshly desires?

          No doubt there is much sin on both sides of this conversation, and no one should be casting stones at others. But we must also be able to recognize sin as sin, or else we are just making up our own version of Christianity in the image of ourselves—and people who do that should be honest enough to admit that they are not seeking Christ.

          • Barbara Gooby says:

            Love is not a sin. Please read the New Testament and tell me how many times Jesus says either that love is a sin, or that He condemns homosexuality. Jesus taught that God is love, we are all God’s children, and we are ALL loved by God. I would be interested in your findings.

          • What about volution? I have never met a gay person who did not earnestly seek not to be LGBTQ, some with disastrous consequences. Read “Torn” by Justin Lee for insight into a very orthodox believer from childhood struggled. Do you know how many LGBTQ young people commit suicide, including Christian LGBTQ persons. NO ONE needs their “sins” pointed out. God did not give any of us that charge. Do you really think that reinforcing what bigoted non-Christians say will draw people to Jesus? Do you still sin? Do you need to have that pointed out to you like by other Christians Jesus followers? Get a clue. You’ve got some repenting to do in my opinion as do we all.

  5. José do Carmo da Silva says:

    Vão em paz. “Saíram de nosso meio, mas na realidade não eram dos nossos, pois, se fossem dos nossos, teriam permanecido conosco!(1Jo 2.19.) ”

  6. J Spaulding says:

    The definition of stupid is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. This divisive group has been trying to tear the UMC apart for the past 47 years. Each time they lose by greater margins even while prohibitions are added and penalties are increased.

    It is hard to feel charitable after all that’s been said and done.

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

    “For his part, Asbury Memorial UMC’s pastor, Billy Hester, admitted to his flock, ‘It became clear at the 2019 General Conference that due to the large number of delegates from overseas, this inclusion [he desired on LGBTQ liberation] will not happen as the denomination exists presently.’”

    This is a recurring “dog whistle” – implying that UM delegations for outside the US – mainly Africa – are the cause of the 2019GC voting down the One Church Plan.

    I’m thinking there’s more than a tinge of colonial geo-racism in that notion. Could that be? Racist LGBTQAI+ progressives?

    • William says:

      Their agenda is #1 with nothing else even close, including God. But, the strangest thing happens here — they can exhibit racist attitudes and behavior and get away with it. In fact, the LGBT+ movement can do no wrong. The ends justify the means. The invasion of this into the church is so pronounced that it even displaces God when His Word when that appears to stand in the way of their agenda. They certainly place their idol worship ahead of God.

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

        William, they “get away with it” because there are few in the UMC general church bureaucracy, and none in the episcopacy, to challenge their implicitly colonial, racist response to the support of the Traditional Plan by African United Methodists – who represent the growing edge of the global UMC. The Africans are, condescendingly, viewed as children, babes in the complexities of the faith, by the U.S. adults supporting the LGBTQAI+ movement.

        I watched the 2019GC live-streaming. For me, the most memorable moment came as delegates lined up at a microphone to speak for and against a reconsideration of the One Church Plan.

        A small, African delegate came to the mic wearing a jacket that didn’t fit – too big – and wearing a skull cap. (I later learned that African delegates who came unprepared for the weather were given warmer clothes.) He, as I recall, essentially said – We vote our biblical beliefs.

        He was followed by a tall, white, well-dressed, articulate, U.S. pastor of a large UMC who took a counter position largely based on something called “contextual differentiation”.

        And there it is, William. Pride goeth before the fall.

        • William says:

          Thank you. It is hard to not think of an overall conspiracy here. For these last several decades, liberals have moved into the power vacuum of the UMC and successfully sowed skepticism, suspicion, and confusion with relation to Scripture and Doctrine. Once they managed that through the seminaries and church leadership appointments, they concocted that concept you point out of the “complexities of the faith” so as to assume the roles of deciphering those complexities FOR us.

          Of course it’s racist to look down on the Africans from their pedestals, but American traditionalists are viewed as children in the complexities of the faith as well. And, the liberals are throughly confused and frustrated. Why can’t these children in the faith realize that the liberals are here to rescue them from their bigotry, prejudice, homophobia, and even racism and bring them into a new revelation light?

          • Dr. Todd says:

            Spiritually speaking it is most certainly a conspiracy – Satan has had his day and way dividing the American Church as we placed our “freedoms” and “justice” ahead of Biblical orthodoxy. A brilliant plan, brilliantly executed. But the King is coming.

        • Search4Truth says:

          When the apostasy of TEC (The Episcopal Church) was condemned by the Anglican churches of the Global South many racial epitaphs and intelligence slurs went sent from TEC toward the African leaders. Seems the TEC leaders couldn’t deal with our very studious (PHD holders) and Godly African brothers. Some things never change.

  8. senecagriggs says:

    The churches that split from the SBC became “Cooperating Baptist Fellowship” in 1991. They have NOT prospered. Churches have died, they have trouble paying their bills and the future appears dim.

  9. Tom says:

    Two things: (1) In the UMC, doesn’t the denomination own the property? Are these congregations proposing to leave without their property? (2) What is it with New England? Did the pro-LGBT people think they would win and try to make it difficult for the Bible-believing Methodists to leave? And is their own policy now coming back to bite them? Or is something else going on?

    • Dr.Charles Klink says:

      Believe me, there will not be any issue with the property clause of our Discipline. I guarantee that, if there is a request to depart, there will be an expectation that apportionments not paid be paid, and then the contents of the facility and the facility itself will be “allowed” to go with them. If not, the persons will still depart and build another facility and/or find another place to meet until they decide on a new facility plan. This has been done in the past, and it will happen again.

  10. Tamara Sites says:

    It is what it is! If their beliefs are not consistent with the UMC beliefs, then they should worship elsewhere. If the vote had gone the other way, I would have left the church due to that difference. Why should the denomination have to change?? Go join a church that shares your beliefs or start your own. It’s just like the boy scouts. Why should they have to change their policies. If someone does not believe in what they stand for, then start your own organization. This is the problem. It’s always someone screaming discrimination!! I should not have to change my beliefs (just like the church) just because it’s someone else’s. You are saying that your beliefs are important and mine aren’t. When you push for change, you just may find a fight!!

  11. Charlie Winkelman says:

    Bravo to the United Methodists and the African pastors who are keeping it true to Jesus and the Bible! My own apostate PCUSA denomination has gone the opposite way and it is the conservative churches that are being forced to leave. Its enough to make this Presbyterian pastor consider becoming a Methodist!

  12. Delbert Stanton says:

    “When there is no king in Israel, people will do what is right in their own eyes.” We have become a nation that worships “humanism”. A person could phrase this as “when there is no God in America, people will do what is right in their own eyes.” We worship our genitalia, and people don’t give a damm about what you allow into your inlets and outlets, just leave our kids alone.

  13. Lizzie Warren says:

    I live in Savannah, GA. Billy Hester’s church, Asbury, focuses on producing high quality, musical plays. When locals mentions Asbury the first response is “Oh they have some talented musicians and actors”…. not….. “They are a gospel preaching” church.

  14. Nancy says:

    They should remove their churches. A person believes the Bible

    or they don’t. They will be sorry one day

    • Dr.Charles Klink says:

      Read the history of the 1868 split within the then-Methodist system. This has happened before and, as in a couple of communities where I pastored over the years, there had been both a “north” church and a “south” church — and in 1968 we came back together again. Yes, it took a 100 years, but we did get back together. My point is this — if there is a desire for a split — then DO IT! Stop the “wringing of hands” over this process — we’ve been here before, and why would we think otherwise when we consider the human condition (see Genesis)?! It is not the possibility of a split that is the issue — it is the continual “angst” we are wasting on arguing the issue. As goes an old saying I was told for years when it came to making a decision: “Either ____ or get off the pot!”

  15. Gary Smith says:

    It seems that those desiring to break away are practicing their own form of bigotry.

  16. John Smith says:

    While we may desire the departure of those with whom we disagree for the sake of peace, if nothing else, we must also be aware of a larger context and might benefit from a mirror.

    Do we reach the lost by saying “Good Riddance!”?
    Do we engage with them by saying “Racist, Bigot, Neocolonialist!”?
    Are we different from them when we attach labels or hurl epitaphs?
    Do we treat the other sins and sinners in our churches the same as we treat them or do we have our pet sins we are tolerating?

    • Jeffrey Crawford says:

      Amen to this! The seemingly inevitable split is not something that we should be thrilled with at all. It is a tragedy and it is something that we should not accept lightly. Ultimately, if a split happens, it will be costly and it will hurt. The UMC must absolutely stand up for the Gospel message, absolutely! But, we should never willingly applaud when someone or groups of someones walk away from the body, no matter their theological beliefs. “Us and Them” should not exist in the body of Christ!

  17. Wayne Parrish says:

    Do we yet have enough votes to get rid of the Church & Society crowd otherwise known as the Democratic platform cheerleaders

  18. Anthony Ferguson says:

    This is the inevitable result of an unconverted ministry. Please pray for these Ministers and their congregations to come to Christ and be ‘born again’.
    Please pray for Revival for all of us.

  19. Jeff Winter says:

    As a former PCUSA pastor I prayed for years liberal churches in the denomination would leave because they couldn’t align themselves with the clear teaching of Scripture that homosexual expression is sinful. This didn’t happen. The liberals worked hard to divide the PCUSA. It didn’t matter to them that they would bring down this denomination in order to get their way. I am sorry the PCUSA doesn’t have Bible believing African churches to help steer a biblical course.

    • The Church of Jesus Christ has never grown because of Theologically Liberal teaching.  The Church grows when the Gospel is studied, believed, preached, and practiced.  The PC(USA), after more than a century of internecine conflict between Biblical Christianity and Theological Liberalism for the heart and soul of America’s largest Presbyterian denomination, has finally so alienated the Evangelicals in her midst that they departed in droves.  Today, for the first time in history, there is no Evangelical presence in the PC(USA) strong enough to thwart the Theologically Liberal leadership of the denomination from making genuine progress toward fulfilling the goals of its humanistic agenda.  The denomination’s General Assemblies are marked by a high degree of agreement and cooperation, and finally there is peace.
       
      The peace of the grave, that is.
       
      What is left of the PC(USA) is not living but dying.  Despite the absence of the well-publicized rancor between Presbyterian Liberals and Evangelicals at Presbytery and General Assembly meetings, the denomination continues to hemorrhage about five percent of its membership annually.  At that rate, membership in the PC(USA) will drop below the one million mark in 2024 and below the 100,000 mark in 2069.  The PC(USA) is a branch that fails to bear fruit, because it does not abide in the Vine, and the Vine’s words do not abide in it, and so it withers, because it has been cut off from the Vine (Jn. 15.1-6).
       
      The PC(USA) is in dire straits, and yet the leadership continues to maintain the status quo, and its efforts to reform itself are pitiful: In typical Presbyterian fashion, it is addressing the problem of continued catastrophic membership loss by appointing useless, ignorant, and impotent committees.  The Way Forward Committee is preoccupied with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while the 2020 Vision Team is vapidly tweaking the denomination’s vision statement, as if a retooled vision statement, to encourage PC(USA) laity and clergy to greater efforts of social work, and reorganized denominational offices, to allow the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board to achieve greater levels of communication and cooperation, were all that were necessary to stimulate new life in a dying denomination.  “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities!  All is vanity!” (Eccl. 1.2)
       
      I sympathize with you, brother Jeff.  The PC(USA)’s heart is hardened against God and His Word, trusting more in sophisticated “interpretations” of His Word by Theologically Liberal scholars than she is in Him and His Word themselves.  And failing a heart transplant (Ezek. 11.19-20), she will continue to languish and die.

  20. Jeff says:

    What about UMC churches in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area?

  21. CBByrd says:

    I had seen articles referencing the “ONA” (Open and Affirming) designation used for liberal churches that advocate for full participation by gay persons and which do not view homosexuality as a sin. Churches that follow a traditional biblical view are referred to as “non-affirming”.

    This is so sad to me. In my own life’s journey with Christ, there were early years in which I struggled with a need to feel “affirmed.” That need was given a name when it was pointed out to me in a counseling session with a UMC pastor in my 20s as I struggled in my marriage (now 47 years long). “What you are saying is that you want to be affirmed by your husband.” I clutched at that like a starving child. It became my mantra in my marriage. It would be years later that I would come to understand the dynamics of co-dependency and birth order influences and sheer human-condition selfishness in my life. Years of loneliness from what was, in my mind, an unmet need led to a lot of hurt and eventually to an emotional emergency that became the doorway to spiritual emergence. In the maelstrom that ensued, a breakthrough came at a point when my Dad lay near death from a hemorrhagic stroke. Wonderful Christian counseling and a deep love of the Lord and scripture had finally shown me that I had felt displaced in my Father’s affection by two younger brothers whose time and common experiences with him had left me feeling like an also-ran in a 1950s-1970s small community, traditional-styled family where male-female roles were still very entrenched. My jealousy and rebellious spirit had not been clear to me until the moment in my late 40s when I pleaded with God to give me more time with my gravely ill Daddy to try and get our relationship to the warm and emotionally intimate place I desired. In that split second, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart with words that rocked my world: “Affirmation is not love. Sacrifice is love.” I suddenly saw my Daddy from a different perspective. He had loved his children. He had worked extraordinarily long and hard hours as a small trucking enterprise business owner. He sacrificed to assure that we had the things we needed to succeed in life…education, connectedness to extended family, participation in church life as a family. Having my two brothers participating in the family business from the time they could roll a truck tire was an economic necessity. And I was relegated to helping care for a baby sister 10 years younger than me while our Mother worked and helped with the family business, too. It was not the life I intended to live and I hastened to a future in which I would not be valued less than any man. It was the cultural bullet train that carried me through adolescence and early adulthood….feminism, sexual liberation, equal rights, etc.

    But in one brief moment, as I pleaded for a little more time with my Daddy, a word from God showed me that I had misunderstood the true nature of love…. the love of my Daddy, the love of my husband and even earlier in my life, the love of God, as well. I cried, broken hearted over my childish, selfish view of love defined by my desire to be affirmed, to be special or “cherished”, as I described it to the men in my life.

    God gave us another 12 years with Daddy and, thankfully, I was able to resolve my past hurts, rebellion, and sense of having been abandoned when his sons, my brothers, entered the picture. And the relationships with my husband, brothers, other males in my life all were changed, as well. ‘

    Nothing has changed in the culture. The same lie is perpetrated. The nature of love is perverted and God is heartbroken by hardened hearts, blind eyes, and deaf ears that will not hear his Word.

  22. Donald says:

    As I have said before, the real challenge here is going to be for various conferences to enforce the Discipline’s standards going forward, for both current clergy as well as individuals applying for ordination. The old ‘wink-and-nod’ “Good Ol’ Gal / Good Ol’ Boy” system is what the Progressives have always counted upon…as well as the traditional psychology of clergy and church people who always wish to avoid conflict in the name of ‘peace.’
    In other words, you’ll have to grow spines.

    • John Smith says:

      So, since the passage of the “traditional” plan how much enforcement have we seen? Obviously there could no longer be a bishop in violation of the BOD anymore, could there? Oh yeah right, still there, still in charge with no pending charges. Until the bishops get taken care of does any of it really matter?

  23. Jeff says:

    Obviously an issue that goes against the basic direction of God in many ways. The sexual issues aside, we need to understand two other concerns.

    The 1st issue is how would God want us to include those continuing to sin, in His Church and in our personal ministry.

    The end is the removal of our right of discernment. Biblically we have the right to be Discerning, not judgemental. The bullying by the sexual left on the still mainstream traditionalists has to be managed and highlighted. These aggressive behaviours are undermining our right of Discernment.

    We have to engage them. We must pray for them. We must be the Light of Christ for them. But we must not give up our rights. And we must not give up the Ministry of Christ.

  24. Joan Sibbald says:

    Those who do not believe in the Bible’s teaching regarding sexual relations:
    – “Man must not lie down with man nor woman with woman. It is an abomination in the eyes of God.”
    – “From the beginning God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and the two will become one. What God has joined together let no man separate.”

    have chosen to believe in “Self!” Satan smiles…

    • Barbara Gooby says:

      Hi Joan — are you Jewish? Because those verses are most definitely from the Pentateuch, or Torah (Genesis and Leviticus). Those true to the Christian faith use the Old Testament to inform their understanding of Jesus’s teachings, or the New Testament. In the NT, Jesus tells us first and foremost that we must — MUST — love one another as He loved us. And by one another, He meant all of God’s children. Guess what? We are ALL God’s children — every human being is a Child of God and is loved by God.

      • Jim Moelk says:

        Guess what Barbara, we are not all God’s children. We are all created by God but are not children of God until we put our faith in Christ and are adopted into His family. That’s what the NT says – Jo. 1:10-13; Ro. 8:12-16; 9:8

      • John Smith says:

        Those true to the Christian faith recognize that Jesus is God. That the Bible, all of it, is the word of God. That every word in the Bible is there because Jesus wants it there. The entire Bible is the teaching of Jesus. The OT doesn’t inform the teaching of Jesus; it is the teaching of Jesus.

  25. Rev. Jim Moelk says:

    I am a pastor in the PCUSA. I wish that those who are in favor of changing the traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality would have chosen to leave the denomination rather than tear it apart and force out those who were just fine with what the denomination had always and consistently believed and taught (and Scripture too!) Instead, they have, in essence claimed a new revelation concerning what the Bible and God actually mean and any who do not agree with them are unloving heretics. We tried the middle grpund, one church kind of approach, but it didn’t and couldn’t work. Darkness and light cannot dwell together.
    So I say, let them go with your blessing, shake the dust from your shoes and move on.

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