At its recent biannual meeting, the General Assembly of the National Chinese Caucus of The United Methodist Church almost unanimously approved a resolution declaring support for the February 2019 UMC General Conference’s adoption of the Traditional Plan. The resolution also very broadly rejects actions of “resistance” to the decision that have been promoted by liberal white American caucus leaders and bishops in recent months.
The full text of this brief resolution, entitled “A Statement On Faithful Forward,” is as follows: “In light of the resistance to the decision of the 2019 Special General Conference in favor of the Traditional Plan, the National Chinese Caucus of The United Methodist Church makes this open statement: We support the decision of the 2019 Special General Conference and disagree with all actions contrary to the 2019 decision.”
This was approved on October 19 with 41 votes in favor, not one opposing vote, and just three abstentions.
The resolution was presented by the caucus’s Immediate Past Chair, the Rev. Dr. Peter Lau. Despite the same last name, he is no relation to the caucus’s current chair, Pastor Puong Ong Lau.
The National Chinese Caucus includes all of the Chinese-speaking United Methodist congregations scattered around the United States (mainly serving immigrant populations), as well as a number of Chinese American clergy and laity from other congregations. It convenes a General Meeting and Leadership Training Event for dozens of Chinese-American United Methodist leaders every other year.
In 1999, the caucus passed a resolution strongly supporting the biblical standards on sexual morality that were already part of our denomination’s governing Book of Discipline at that time.
Interestingly, its 2019 gathering was held within the notoriously radicalized New York Annual Conference, whose leadership has been at the forefront of promoting secularized liberal theology and blatant violations of the Discipline.
But the host congregation, Flushing Chinese United Methodist Church, has been at least modestly and consistently growing since 2015. For its part, the New York Conference as a whole has been declining dramatically, losing 7.1 percent of its members and shrinking by 6.6 percent in worship attendance between 2015 and 2019 (according to annual conference reports for those years). This congregation appears to be especially evangelistically effective, reporting dozens of professions of faith every year. In 2017, at least 5.6 percent of the affirmations of faith reported in the entire New York Conference were in this congregation, one congregation out of more than 430.
Those urging the church to abandon adherence to biblical teaching about sexual morality continually claim, in spite of all evidence, that the church must change its theology or die, for the sake of being effective in reaching the mission field in America today.
Our churches must compassionately welcome ALL people, understanding both that we are all broken sinners in desperate need of God’s grace and that God’s grace transforms us and empowers us to live lives of holy Christian discipleship. There is no longer intellectually serious argument about the facts that homosexual practice, like other forms of sex outside of marriage, is directly contrary to biblical Christian teaching. Nor have I seen anyone honestly and seriously disputing that proposals for church endorsement of same-sex unions would be contrary to the United Methodist Church’s historic, official core doctrine.
This recent development is further indication that as our denomination moves towards some sort of separation, whichever new group rejects biblical teachings on this matter will be less ethnically diverse, and less effective in reaching newer immigrant communities in a demographically changing America.