First United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

No One Is Leaving The United Methodist Church

on January 16, 2020

UM Voices is a forum for different voices within the United Methodist Church on pressing issues of denominational concern. UM Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.

This is the first of two articles offering different perspectives on the new “Protocol” proposal to divide the United Methodist Church. You can read the second one here. Rev. Teddy Ray is the founding pastor of the Offerings Community of First United Methodist Church in Lexington, KY, where he also serves as the Pastor of New Communities and Leadership Development.

Under the proposed Protocol, among other proposals, The United Methodist Church is about to cease to exist.  Though the name, logo, and agencies may remain, they won’t represent the same denomination that has existed for fifty years. That denomination is dissolving and giving birth to new denominations.

This is sad. The UMC has done a lot of good work in our world. Millions of people have become Christians, been nurtured in the faith, and reached out to others through this denomination.

It could also be hopeful. Don’t view this simply as a schism or dissolution. Also see in it a new birth for at least two denominations. As much as we lament church separations, we can also acknowledge that they are a standard part of Protestant history. And we can celebrate that the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, and so on, have all done a lot of good things in the world through their unique contributions.

Whatever it is, it’s necessary. Since the UMC’s inception, we’ve been united by organizational structures, not theology. Dale Coulter’s excellent article on the Methodist experiment’s failure details the problems with this. A church united by structures and not by theological and moral substance is doomed to failure. Our beliefs and practices regarding same-sex marriage finally revealed this. It turns out that theology and morals do matter to virtually everyone in the UMC. And we hold theological and moral stances that are not merely at odds, but mutually exclusive. We have reached a breaking point.

We have (at least) two parties who have been sharing assets, and we’re about to stop sharing. Various proposals would divide those assets. In a divorce, these include things like the house, the cars, the dog, the kids, and the money. In an organizational dissolution, they include things like the name, the logo, the agencies, all of the local churches, and the money.

While many reports say traditionalists are leaving the UMC, and some proposals even frame it this way, that doesn’t represent our reality.  Neither traditionalists nor progressives are “leaving.”  What we had together is going away. Everyone now will have to choose. Will they become part of the new progressive Methodist denomination, the new traditionalist Methodist denomination, or perhaps some other option?

Depending on which proposal passes, one of these groups may retain the UMC name, logo, and agencies. One of them may be the default position for churches or conferences that don’t actively decide with which new denomination they’ll align. That would make it easier for that new denomination to frame this as a question of “leaving” or “staying.”

So far, most proposals have the progressives and institutionalists retaining most UMC assets. That can position them as the “remain” group and the traditionalists as the “leaving” group. Many ask why the traditionalists would leave, since they won the votes.

Traditionalists are a thin majority of General Conference delegates and the wide majority of United Methodist membership. So why would they give up most assets? And why would they craft proposals that give the appearance that the traditionalists are “leaving” and the progressives “staying”?  One reason is that traditionalists seem more tired of the fight. While progressives have declared their resistance to ratified UMC legislation, more traditionalists have said they’re “tired of the struggle.” Like the spouse ready to move on, traditionalists seem ready to concede assets to end the fighting.  It’s also important to remember that traditionalists are conceding what they never had:  United Methodism’s bureaucracy.

United Methodism’s name and logo may remain, but they’ll represent a different institution. Though some group may be the “default” new denomination for conferences or local churches, you’ll still have to leave the current United Methodist Church to go there. Everyone will have to choose. Will you go to the new progressive Methodist denomination, the new traditionalist one, or something else?

For laity: The single issue of same-sex marriage has been raised to such a level that as a church member, you may feel that you must go to a church that aligns with your personal beliefs. I want to say clearly to you that you do not have to fully agree with your denomination to be a part of it. If any of a number of our church’s positions became the litmus test for whether you could participate, I expect something would eliminate nearly all of us. And the same would be likely in any other church, as well.

The position my church holds in common is that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. We put our full trust in His grace. That does not make any of our other positions unimportant. But none of them are first in importance.

For each of us, agreement with our church on a particular issue may be essential to our ongoing participation, and as a pastor, I’ll respect any church member who comes to that point on this or another issue. But as a pastor, I want to also assure my people that we will continue to love and welcome every person who is a part of our community, regardless of their position on this or any other matter.

For clergy: Choosing is different for clergy. The options set before us in a new progressive or traditionalist Methodist denomination are likely to be “you must” or “you must not.” In the progressive denomination, I expect clergy to hear “you must” perform same-sex marriages, ordain people in same-sex marriages, and affirm same-sex marriage in your teaching on sexuality. In the traditionalist denomination, I expect clergy to hear “you must not” for all of the above.

Though church members may be able to be part of a denomination with which they disagree, I don’t expect clergy to have that same luxury. You’ll have to be aligned with your denomination on this issue or risk violating conscience or covenant. That is a devastating reality for any pastors who love their local church or annual conference but may not be aligned with them on this one issue. I wish it were different, but I’m afraid it won’t be.

  1. Comment by John Smith on January 16, 2020 at 7:15 am

    I’m not sure if this is a “happy, happy, happy” post, a “nothing to see here” post or a plea for the orthodox not to take their “tithes, talents and time” (especially the first) and leave the progressives.

  2. Comment by Ed on January 27, 2020 at 11:58 am

    I’m just an old man. 63 years I’ve lived on this Earth and I’m I have seen alot. I have a few friends who are my age and homosexual. I use that word because that is the word they use for themselves. We attend the same church and pray and read the bible like a “Christian” should. But there is one huge difference in my friends than most homosexuals. They choose to be celibate. They understand what they read and practice their faith above all things. The help those in need, donate to the widowed and orphaned not only in money but with their time. They are sure in their trust in the lord and the bible. I believe they will see heaven because of their life and following Gods words.
    One who sends deliberately against God’s word we’ll see strict judgement. When a man is with a man as a woman it’s an Abomination to the Lord. The term man was used and those days and meant men or women.
    In the Bible it says to be a deacon in the church you have to be Beyond reproach. The same as such for a minister. For those who want to practice at Abomination to the Lord and then preach forgiveness for all is a hypocrite at a heretic. A false prophet and they’ll pay when they are judged.
    I respect my friends 100%. I would like my son if he was young go camping with them on boy scouts. These are men who do not lie. These are men who have shared values of Christianity. These are men that refuse to let someone hijack their Church. These are men who make a choice the follow the Lord’s teaching. If the founders of a religion that is based a Biblical text at the words of Jesus the son of God who died on the cross was resurrected and woke up again why should there be a split of any type in the church? The church does not change or placate due to social norms or the whims of mankind. Why not put up bronze idols made by man’s hands and pray to the gods that man has made. I suggest you all go back and study the book of “JEREMIAH”. Just a note…I am not telling his name at you… The Bible always Capitalizes a book’s name.
    God bless everyone who follows the word of God.

  3. Comment by William NC on January 16, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Your observation about the beurocracy of the UMC is brilliant because it is, admittedly, so obvious. This single sentence explains why we are where we are as a denomination today.

    “Traditionalists Concede What They Never Had” should be the headline of General Conference 2020.

  4. Comment by Dan W on January 16, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Reverend Ray’s comments are a good summation of what I am hearing from UMC members and clergy. Will UM clergy really choose the denomination that aligns with their beliefs, or will they choose a steady paycheck and benefits? Will they continue to “resist” as elders in an orthodox, but financially secure denomination? When the progressive denomination(s) fully included L and G elders will they also include B, T, Q, + elders?

    Just asking…

  5. Comment by Should I Stay or should I Go? on January 17, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Dan,

    Are you trying to be offensive or was it an accident?

    If those of us who are clergy and against this horrendous destruction wrought by the political and social left of the
    denomination, are we really going to sacrifice our beliefs, conscience, and our commitment to the Church for a bag of silver?

    I dare say that if some clergy who disagree with progressives stay in the church, they will be there to continue the fight, not bow to the left. If the left of the church can fight this issue on moral and biblical grounds, so can people on the right/traditional side of the church.

    As a practical matter, do you really think that those traditional clergy who stay will do it so they can advance in the hierarchy? The progressives in the hierarchy who are bishops and DS’s know who they are, and they will be stuck in minimum salary appointments in placed in situations where they will be forced out of the church.

    Please do not project your anger onto people who are servants. Thanks

  6. Comment by Should I Stay and should I go... on January 17, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Sorry about the mispellings

  7. Comment by Carol Hill on March 20, 2020 at 11:09 am

    This not having Church as I still think it isn’t right not everyone has computers . Found one last week and we just didn’t sit close to each other . Like someone today at Beautiful Shop Said it is the Devil. This is,worse than a Hurricane .

  8. Comment by Joan Sibbald on January 18, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    The Progressive’s agenda is to transform not only Western Civilization’s individual sovereign nations into one “Open Society” ruled by an unelected bureaucracy, it is also to replace Christianity with secularism and eliminate all ethnic cultures.

    You ask, will they also include B T Q + elders? History teaches, Yes, because progressives never stop “progressing.”

    They are very clever. They realize people would reject their ultimate goals if they laid out the truth in the beginning.

    For example, who would have thought when abortion was first proposed in the 1970’s that today a woman would be able to kill her son or daughter in the womb up to the moment of birth or that two men or two women would be able to marry and raise children? Who would have believed that anyone could change their gender as young as three years old? Who would have believed that drag queen’s would be reading to preschoolers at libraries during children’s hour and being invited to schools to interact with students?

    When traditionalists are accused of “hate” speech for saying, “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. What God has joined together let no man separate.”

    Instead of becoming tired and giving up they should say in a polite and firm voice, “This is not my opinion. I’m repeating God’s Word.

    Remember, when progressives win Satan smiles!

  9. Comment by Lee Cary on January 19, 2020 at 10:17 am

    “One reason is that traditionalists seem more tired of the fight. While progressives have declared their resistance to ratified UMC legislation, more traditionalists have said they’re ‘tired of the struggle.’”

    Progressives are nothing if not determined to have their positions prevail. In America, it happened with eugenics, prohibition, abortion, and same-sex marriage.

    Conservatives (AKA Traditionalists) weary more easily.

  10. Comment by David on January 19, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    My, this sounds like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  11. Comment by Gordon Van Namee on January 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Excellent

  12. Comment by Bryon Stone on January 25, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Wow! I am a United Methodist who happens to believe in the in the full inclusion of LGTBQ persons in the church. I go to church weekly, read the Bible and pray regularly, am involved in church activities, and do what I can to spread the Word of God. I come to my beliefs, I believe, sincerely after contemplating my traditions, experiences, reason, and scripture. I am open to the views of others who hold the opposite view, though, at my age I doubt there will be this vast rewrite of my thoughts and philosophy. A disturbing tendency I have seen in those who stand in the opposite side of the political spectrum than my own is that they claim that there is this vast unnamed political agenda on the left. Like the current office holder of the White House, Ms. Sibbald without any evidence has added her voice to this crowd by saying progressives “realize people would reject their ultimate goal if they laid out the truth from the beginning.” Where is this vast to do list that progressives have constructed and passed among themselves without being revealed to the public? I suspect that people that traffic in conspiracy theories, as is being revealed in the case of POTUS though I can’t say anything about Ms. Sibbald, only do so to justify to themselves their own obfuscation and deception.

  13. Comment by Search4Truth on January 19, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Well, what do you know, another journey into a delusion? Please tell me, Is God God? Or are we claiming that title (and all that goes with it) for ourselves.

  14. Comment by Scott on January 16, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Must and must not will also apply to individual churches. Even if it doesn’t start that way the progressive church will quickly progress to full inclusion including gay weddings and gay pastors in all churches in that denomination. They may start with a local option, but it won’t last long. Also if all sexual behavior is removed as chargeable offenses as many progressives propose, you will have anything goes at the parsonage and in the pulpit. How long before pastors in multi-partner marriages or non-marital relationships. Didn’t this website report last fall on an incoming Episcopalean Bishop who performed a three way wedding?

  15. Comment by JR on January 16, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    You hit two slippery slope arguments in one paragraph. I’m impressed!

  16. Comment by Psalti on January 17, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    “When orthodoxy becomes optional eventually it becomes proscribed”

    —GK Chesterton

  17. Comment by JR on January 21, 2020 at 9:12 am

    “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” – GK Chesterton

  18. Comment by Dina Harper on May 14, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Loving neighbors and loving enemies simply defined is telling truth. What is truth asks Pilot? Pilot was blind and could not see truth due to scales on his eyes and only reading his newspaper and perhaps his Roman devotional with no chronological order which kept him in a state of nongrowth and immaturity. But if he would have only studied the scriptures of the Old Testament (since New Testament was being written before his very eyes) perhaps he could have seen the Truth standing in front of him. Yet he went with the crowd, the progressive movement without digging any further and washed his hands of the Truth. Don’t wash your hands of the truth and as a Sunday school teacher within the Methodist church I can sadly attest to the fact that just a weekly Sunday school lesson and jumping around throughout the Bible will only serve to confuse the people. Only a repetitive chronological study of the Word will open the eyes of a progressive church and as long as the Sunday school literature treads lightly on scripture and stays away from fishing in the deep then my dear friends I’m afraid we will only become bait ourselves. I have to say that I too will be leaving this church.

  19. Comment by Charlotte on January 17, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    I have said this. Once the deterioration starts, it will continue. Yes, a slippery slope. When will they say, well being a pedophile is a disease. We cannot prevent an alcoholic pastor so we can’t the pedophile either. It is just a disease?? LORD help us… Satan is alive and working overtime. How have we gone so far from the Biblical truth of God’s Word?

  20. Comment by Wayne on January 17, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    David Pawson, a great Bible teacher, said it best….”the church follows the world, 15 yearse behind”.

  21. Comment by Carl on January 20, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Truer words cannot be spoken. Indeed, where is the line? Is a marriage between 2 women and 1 man acceptable? Yes? Then maybe we should bless the union of 2 women, 3 men, and perhaps a goat, should be blessed as well.

    Whoever mentioned that traditionalists are tired is absolutely correct. I’m 72, and I AM tired, and I had hoped that when I die, I could have my ashes sprinkled in my local church’s memorial garden. Now I really don’t want that to happen, because I fear my local church will be the “progressive” branch.

    Not only tired, I am very, very, sad.

  22. Comment by Edith L. Parker on January 25, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I am 82 and tired and sad,also.
    This is not about the Church! The Church is people who believe the Bible is the Word. People who follow the Christ. The UMC is just an organization similar to a country club. Wesley would
    not have any part of this club!

  23. Comment by Robert Hogan on June 21, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    We are seeing the falling away of 2nd thessalonians 2:3 before our very eyes. The falling away from doctrine. The rapture is not far behind. It’s not just happening in our denomination but in all denominations. This is a warning. I dont want any one to go to hell so turn from your abominations. Repent is to turn away from your sin. Do you love your sin more than God.

  24. Comment by Paul knag on January 17, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    The faithful are in control of the Methodist Church but by leaving they will leave the left in control. No one should be allowed to leave with church property and the faithful in particular should not go anywhere.

  25. Comment by John Smith on January 18, 2020 at 7:53 am

    If the faithful were in control would the Bishops be so out of control? The seminaries? The boards and agencies? The faithful may be the majority but they are not in control. Creating an elite answerable only to itself is a mistake. (Yes, they will eventually answer to God for their shepherding. Since many Bishops don’t seem to believe in God, the divinity of Jesus, or a final judgement this hasn’t been much of a deterrent.) Will the new denomination learn?

    This whole affair makes me want to consider a Congregationalist church.

  26. Comment by Carlos on January 18, 2020 at 11:08 am

    The “faithful” are not currently in charge of the UMC. We are merely paying the bills!

  27. Comment by Renee on February 16, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Going to visit a congregation church today. The progressives will fight to the death about an agenda. Ultimately the small traditional church will close with all their assets stripped. Not sure the fight is winnable.

  28. Comment by Dee on January 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Just a thought, by comparison, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have tried to alter their identity/status. The roadblock for them has been the outsiders – media, public, etc. who immediately defined them and interpreted their agenda in ways Harry and Meghan would probably choose to disagree. Too bad for them.

    As to the UMC, the outsiders are not defining the United Methodists as traditionalists or progressives, orthodox, or whatever. Read the news….it’s ‘anti-gay” or “lgbtq inclusive”. As an outsider with outsider friends, we concur with the press. None use “traditionalist”. “Anti-gay” may be a false equivalency to “traditionalist,” but it’s what sticks in the minds of outsiders. The media has defined this as a split over lgbtq full inclusion.

  29. Comment by Sam on January 16, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    More and more I’m ready to join the Catholic Church and say forget the Methodists. The Catholic Church has a lot of “additional” beliefs that I’m not ready to add — but, as the author noted, one doesn’t have to be in complete agreement with one’s church to be a part of tht church. At least the Catholic Church speaks with authority and doesn’t leave everything up to a general conference or the vote of the local church. And, at least we know that the Catholic Church will never, never sanction same-sex marriage since one man, one woman marriage is a dogma of the Church and not a doctrine.

  30. Comment by John Smith on January 16, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    OTOH the current Pope is making some strange comments and appears to be looking at some changes. Since despite all the talk of the magisterium it still comes down to one man….

  31. Comment by JR on January 16, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    Your whole faith is hinged on one man, one woman marriage?!?

    So you must also oppose divorce, because that’s an obvious offshoot of that doctrine and was also specifically called out by Jesus.

    Seems like poor theology to me, but I’m just a guy on the internet.

  32. Comment by John Smith on January 17, 2020 at 6:17 am

    My theology is tethered to the sufficiency and authority of scripture. I’ve commented elsewhere about my opinion of the church’s embrace of divorce and preferred sexual (and other) sins. For some reason, in the UMC this has manifested in a fight about same sex marriage. From the orthodox view this is stupid. The fight should have been fought long ago on different grounds but wasn’t. This allowed the progressives to frame the fight as one about compassion, care, etc of the outcast (LGBTQ+). Lets be clear, biblical marriage was eviscerated by the churches and christians that stepped away from biblical teaching for various personal reasons (it was love, God brought us together, He’s such a gifted Pastor, They give so much money to the church, The family is very prominent in the local community), gay marriage simply made it public.

  33. Comment by JR on January 17, 2020 at 8:34 am

    Okay, I don’t disagree with you on the basics – by permitting remarriage after divorce, the UMC ceded the ground that eventually led to gay marriage acceptance.

    Interestingly (from an historical perspective), that first battle ended just shortly before this current one began.

    I don’t agree with your firm point on theology, and that’s something that we can agree to disagree about (without needing to be hard on each other about it). I have firm beliefs on why I stand where I do, and I’m sure you do too.

    And that’s really the basic reason why we should split the church. The core reason isn’t over gay marriage or gay pastors – it’s that there’s dramatically different theology under one tent, and they don’t really mix well.

  34. Comment by John Smith on January 17, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I agree with the need for the split; I disagree with the stated reasons (which is why I often use the term Orthodox instead of traditionalist) and I dislike the terms.

  35. Comment by David on January 18, 2020 at 3:39 am

    The Bible spells it out,” For the time will come when people will not “put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” God’s word! Nothing more, nothing less, Nothing else!

  36. Comment by Dean on January 17, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    There is such a huge difference in forgiving of sin and celebrating sin. I’ve never been to a church that celebrates divorce. I know the Catholics do not.

    That is the crux of this whole issue. It’s not about accepting or rejecting LGBTQ people as so often parroted by the leftist crowd, it is about rejecting the “Will of God” with regards to sexual relations as created (either by God, or through the creative functional process in nature). Unrepentant LGBTQ Clergy, and the celebration of same sex marriages are a rejection of Gods Will and thus should not be embraced. It literally is putting the ever changing will of man’s culture as superior to that of the creator.

  37. Comment by Pudentiana on January 17, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    This is an excellent point, not taken often enough. It is valid.

  38. Comment by Charlotte on January 17, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    I agree… a friend on mine is a devout convert to LMS or so I thought. Her 3 son is gay and to be married. She said as long as they are happy that is all she cares about. I am over here thinking, what about heaven? How to take sin so softly; if it makes you happy just do it. Yes, they are welcome with the rest of us sinners, but we just don’t embrace sin as ok, because it makes us happy.

  39. Comment by Donald E Null on January 17, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    I belong to a rural Missouri UMC that is just hanging on financially. It is also one where some people are more willing to buy into the progressive agenda whereas others are not. For the time being we co-exist. Force us to vote, one way or the other, and I believe our church ceases to exist. Even losing a few families will result in a church that cannot pay it’s bills, I believe. Thankfully, we have other Christian denominations that will welcome in the traditionalist. None of the other denominations will welcome the liberals. I think this will be the same story over and over again in rural Missouri and probably other states too. I believe that Charles Wesley would be turning over in his grave with what is presently happening to the church he founded.

  40. Comment by Kimberly on January 18, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Sam, I’m in agreement with you. I listen to Catholic radio every day and have learned more about it and its beliefs than I know about ours. When it comes to our beliefs, I am largely self-taught, as we aren’t taught much our denomination’s doctrine in the UMC. So, most of us don’t even know what “we” as a denomination believe. Additionally, Christian education/faith formation has been sorely lacking in the UMC for decades, and in lots of churches, essentially doesn’t exist anymore, from what I understand. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about church history, the Bible and Christian teaching/belief/scriptures, and how to live the Christian life through Catholic radio.

  41. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 16, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    The clergy covenant has always been enforceable or not based on what clergy peers are willing to charge, try, convict, and punish. In some cases, there is vigor; in other cases, slackness. There’s no Methodist Magesterium.

  42. Comment by JR on January 17, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Should there be? Honest question.

  43. Comment by John Smith on January 18, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Magisterium is the teaching authority of the church which the Methodists do claim. I think the question is should there be someone over the Bishops? What would it change? Look at the RC; Cardinals, Arch Bishops, Bishops have all been implicated, all have been protecting one another until secular authority compelled them.

    The problem in the UMC has been theology and that is not a ground for secular intervention. Even in RC theology there are signs of change. Some of the Pope’s comments & actions have been…odd? But why think adding more layers of bureaucracy would increase accountability? Its usually the other way around. Look at how the agencies and boards act.

    The best way for Bishops to be proper shepherds is when it is hard, persecution hard. When the temporal hardships of the post far outweigh the worldly benefits of the post then you know those who are in the post are doing it for the sake of God and the sheep.

    And yes, I realize the cure is hard & painful and that I’m unsure if I could handle real persecution and honest enough to say I like my comfort. I kneel in awe at those suffering for the faith in Africa and Asia. For all our money, missions, boards, drives, “courageous stands for the truth” I know who the true giants in the kingdom are.

  44. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    There is no Magisterium in the UMC. There is no doctrinal enforcement mechanism. There is no powerful corrective available. We are governed by conferencing, not by a hierarchical ladder. In 2000 the Judicial Council issued a declaratory judgment that a Cal-Nevada same-sex wedding performed by 50+ clergy was unlawful, but no correction or penalty followed. Disobedience has grown without ceasing.

  45. Comment by Jeff on January 17, 2020 at 4:46 am

    >> “[Clergy will] have to be aligned with your denomination on this issue or risk violating conscience or covenant.”

    So… clergy make a covenant and have a conscience, but laity do not?

    Show me in the Book where this is supported. If you still believe in the inerrant Truth of the Book, that is.

  46. Comment by Jw on January 17, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Hi, first time commenting but regular reader of this site. I’m a “contemporary worship leader” in a small UMC. There’s one thing that has been consistently bothering me and maybe someone can clarify. Beyond love your neighbor is there any biblical justification that the progressive side has used (tried to use) to refute what IS said in scripture ? I asked my pastor this almost a year ago and he said he would send me material if he received any…. I have yet to receive any. Thanks

  47. Comment by Joan Wesley on January 17, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Re. this statement: “For laity: The single issue of same-sex marriage has been raised to such a level that as a church member, you may feel that you must go to a church that aligns with your personal beliefs. I want to say clearly to you that you do not have to fully agree with your denomination to be a part of it. If any of a number of our church’s positions became the litmus test for whether you could participate, I expect something would eliminate nearly all of us. And the same would be likely in any other church, as well.
    The position my church holds in common is that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. We put our full trust in His grace. That does not make any of our other positions unimportant. But none of them are first in importance.”

    So exactly what are you putting your full trust in Jesus for? Why do we need His grace?

    Also, how can a church say that God is simultaneously for and against something? Do we worship an indecisive God who no longer knows what he intended when he created us?

  48. Comment by JR on January 17, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    “Do we worship an indecisive God who no longer knows what he intended when he created us?”

    My mind immediately jumped to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Then to Noah and the Flood.

  49. Comment by William on January 17, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    In his rebuke of easy divorce, why did Jesus go literal on Hebrew scripture and reference God’s created order for marriage? Why did he emphasize this by pointing out the obvious? Why did he state that the two will become one flesh? And, why has this definition Jesus gave marriage been deemed irrelevant by many in this age, thus reducing the relevancy of Jesus in this age?

    ————————————————

    Matthew 19:4-6:

    4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

  50. Comment by td on January 17, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    This article is disingenuous. Of course on group is being asked to leave and one is getting to stay; just because the remnant UMC will be different than before, it will still be the easy default and will be the UMC.

    I will not argue that this is a bad thing. But do not confuse people on this. If you are okay with changing the definition of sexual sins, then you have very little work to do to assure your local church goes on the liberal path.

    However, those who are adhering to christian beliefs on these matters are being treated as disrupters. They will be the ones having to file for local church votes, most likely in opposition to their pastor and district superintendent, and even possibly in opposition to their church council.

    If GC goes with this protocol, they need to nail down exactly what bishops, annual conferences, district superintendents, councils, and pastors are not allowed to procedurally deny to a local church. And the GC should require each member church to vote at an all-church conference that is held on-site with full church notification. Trust in these procedural matters in our churches is dismally low.

  51. Comment by David on January 17, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    So one seems to talking about the possibility that General Conference will vote in the affirmative on the much publicized plan. What is GC votes to keep the UMC as it is with the traditional plan “winning” the day. Every body seems to think that the traditional folk will just gladly give up so much to the side of the church that keeps losing the “vote.” What if the traditional folk decide to “stay” and move toward enforcement of what has already been voted on in the affirmative. Just a thought. We don’t know what GC will decide but everyone is talking as if the current proposal is a “do deal.” Just a thought.

  52. Comment by John Smith on January 18, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Given the realities of the system, the way votes are structured and apportioned there is little chance of the proposal being voted down unless it gets hit with too many amendments. That the orthodox were able to fight the system to uphold scripture before this was a minor miracle. Now that the organizations that were leading the charge against the progressives have joined hands with them to push this proposal it is unlikely there are the votes to defeat it even if there was a will and a leader to fight it.

  53. Comment by Houston Parks on January 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    I am a lifelong Methodist. I am lay leader of my church. Right now, I am livid with the leaders of the denomination. They have miserably failed the laity. They cannot compromise on same-sex relationships, so their resolution is to punt the controversy down to thousands of local churches that are functioning just fine. Progressives are well-intentioned but self-righteous wreckers. Centrists are cowards. Traditionalists realize they are in the minority in America, and have decided to capitulate. The church will shamefully split. The New UMM will gloat but continue its decline. The new traditionalist church will struggle mightily to structure, govern, and populate a new denomination. I am ashamed of United Methodists bishops and pastors who lack the grace to abide by the Book of Discipline. I am angry with traditionalist leaders who have agreed to put local churches in a most difficult dilemma. My dismay is directed to the Institute for Religion and Democracy, Good News, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association. A viable option for me this year is leaving Methodism for another form of worship and service.

  54. Comment by Judith Foster on January 18, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Amen brother!

  55. Comment by Todd Collier on January 18, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    I would amend to say that traditionalists have been convinced that they are in the minority. As an outsider observing these issues over the past several years, it appears to me that the agents of change have taken advantage of the average member’s desire to be left alone and have been able to pack the leadership structure with those who push change. I really doubt the change folks represent anything close to a majority, they have simply been allowed to take charge while the rest of you were busy elsewhere.

  56. Comment by Pam Randolph on February 13, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    My thoughts exactly! I’m right there where you are.

  57. Comment by Tommye Jordan on January 17, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Why do I not hear anything about, “GOD IS IN CONTROL”.
    Perhaps PRAYER is the only sound answer. GOD WILL NOT LOSE THE BATTLE. He never has. Only those who only think and plan for their own personal wants will lose the battle. Read your Bible. God will win and His will last, but will Methodists.

  58. Comment by td on January 18, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I agree. God is in control. However, the basic issue really seems to be that our leadership is not letting God be in control. God is not going to force unbelievers to become believers.

    But i agree that God will not let the devil take over his “church”, but this doesn’t necessarily specifically mean the UMC. It certainly has not been the case, at least in the short term, for the presbyterians, lutherans, and episcopalians.

  59. Comment by Louis Amandola on January 17, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    The issue I am going to have is, at the end of my pastors tenure, and our church is traditional by the way, what happens if the DS or the Bishop decides to replace him with a progressive pastor knowing full well what we are. That to me would be a slap in the face and I’m sorry to say I hear it’s already happening in other conference’s.

  60. Comment by Dan W on January 18, 2020 at 10:54 am

    If this proposed “Protocol of Reconciliation” is adopted in May (GC 2020) your local congregation would vote to leave the “progressive” U.M.C. At that point they could choose to join a traditional Wesleyan denomination. Your local congregation could conceivably be appointed a progressive pastor before it fully separates from the U.M.C.

    Some think this process will destroy a lot of small Methodist congregations and they are probably correct. I don’t think this proposal will be adopted – because it focuses on property (and money) and not people.

  61. Comment by Randy on January 18, 2020 at 8:30 am

    While I am quite confident that the progressives will manage to retain the title “United Methodist,” they are welcome to it. How ironic after all that has happened for anyone to use “United” in the name.

  62. Comment by Ron on January 18, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Traditionalist should fight for the institution. Period. They have church history on their side. Progressives want the change, make them form the new church. Otherwise, the next whim such as sanctuary or climate radicals will split the denomination again and again. People will always want to USE religion to pursue political ends. FIGHT! it’s worth it.

  63. Comment by Judith Foster on January 18, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I agree with your point. But like most of the people who sit in the pew, I feel helpless to fight the hierarchy. My option will probably be to leave the UM church. Maybe even before they vote. I’m sick of it and I’m telling you, more people than the leadership realize are thinking like me.

  64. Comment by paul morelli on January 20, 2020 at 11:26 am

    for the traditionalists to continue to fight and have any chance of changing the institution, many things would have to change. Traditional local church members would have to step into leadership in their own churches first, then be willing to lead in the district and there, nominate traditional leaders to attend annual conference and then put their name in the hat to become delegates to general and jurisdictional conference and be willing to be lifted up and serve on global boards… in the past this has not happened. I have a friend who says “you traditionalists just want to stand up and speak your prophetic word and then go home and watch television” … the progressives have treated this as a revolution and they are willing to sacrifice in order to “change” the church… that is what we would have to overcome. It comes down to basic revival and being “soldiers” of Christ who are willing to sacrifice to lead the church … not leave the church… baring that, we need to move into a new denomination and hope leaders will sacrifice and step up to lead it!

  65. Comment by Todd Collier on January 18, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I will raise a point I have raised before: Even calling yourselves “traditionalists” invites defeat. If you must assume a title go with “Biblicists” or “Orthodox.” Traditions are fleeting and always will be. The other two are harder markers to shift.

  66. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 18, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    As someone else has pointed out, the Protocol will likely pass at Minneapolis. This means there will be many votes taken by traditional-tilted local churches. In most of these churches, the margin to separate will be a simple majority (determined by Church Council decision). These local churches will be able to leave with their properties (and liabilities) to a new denomination. This is a great exit path. Let’s aim for it. Better than lament about the good stuff we had to abandon to the Egyptians. Few of us want to hang around listening to the inconsolable mourning of those who only look behind rather than ahead to what God has prepared for us. “I’m trading my sorrows . . . . “

  67. Comment by Don Alexander on January 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Sounds like a politician wrote this. Much to do about nothing!

  68. Comment by Indy Jones on January 18, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    All I can think of is my little hometown Methodist church. It’s in a rural area, in a town so small it’s not even incorporated. That church building has been there since the early 1800s, if I remember correctly. Plaques on the walls remember over a century of saints.
    It’s a small town. Everyone knows everyone else and everyone else’s business. Were there gay members? Yes, including the choir leader’s own daughter. But they weren’t there because we were a RMN church. They were there because we love all God’s children. Now, the creators of this nightmare want that congregation to vote against their fellow members, to vote to stay or leave. This is not what people go to church for. To fight and call out their neighbors. At least not Methodists.
    This whole mess has such far reaching consequences. How many souls will be lost?

  69. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 18, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Little community-centered churches such as you describe do not have to take a vote. If they wish not to vote, their church stays with their annual conference without a vote. Indiana may or may not stay with a post-separation UMC. My guess is that your church would be happy staying put (by default) whatever Indiana decides.

  70. Comment by td on January 20, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    You underestimate how this will play out. It will most likely rip that community in two. And all because our clergy and leaders have refused to follow legitimately determined rules that are based on God’s teachings.

    This protocol may work in theory, but it will be disastrous in practice- especially in small churches in almost all US annual conferences. You do realize that it is highly unlikely that more than 3 or 4 US annual conferences will have a 57% majority to leave, right?

    And let me reiterate- local umc churches have no history or experience of debating or determining the theology of their church. Most members will be very uneasy about it.

    It is a much better to argue that this is the only deal that the rule breakers will agree to than try to comvince people that this is s good deal.

  71. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 20, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Respectfully, I must differ. Local churches are already preparing themselves to vote on this. What do you think is the subject of the teleconferences among traditional pastors now? Great care is being taken. A local church may decide not to vote. But if there’s a discernable traditional element, the church may want that vote taken. People in small churches have great democratic traditions, after all. This contradicts all those scary fictions in the comment sections.

  72. Comment by td on January 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    I hope you are correct. My only experience are the small churches in my annual conference – most of which lean traditional, but have been served by liberal pastors for decades.

  73. Comment by Ralph Weitz on January 19, 2020 at 8:25 am

    I was buying a Christmas tree from a UMC parking lot in a small VA town. I struck up a cordial conversation with the lot attendant. We spoke about the GC decision and both of us identified ourselves as “traditionalists.” He then said of his small church, “People are leaving for what was done. And people are leaving for what was not done.” Sadly the UMC will continue to wither on the vine with the “progressives” in control and managing all the structure. Ultimately there will be fewer members, fewer churches and less staff. But their agenda will succeed.

  74. Comment by JR on January 21, 2020 at 11:37 am

    “People are leaving for what was done. And people are leaving for what was not done.”

    And that would be true, no matter how any of this had or will play out.

  75. Comment by Margaret Ingram on January 19, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Everyone must choose. Choose what is new or choose what is true. We know in our hearts what is true if we profess Him. Embracing the “world” is not embracing Him. The world is hellbent on its own destruction. His church must stand firm. We know when enough is enough.

  76. Comment by td on January 19, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    The glaring, obvious response to this article’s title is…”duh, traditional believers have been leaving the UMC in droves for at least the past 40 years”.

    And they haven’t been leaving because they thought the clergy were being oppressed or that the faith was too rigid and hateful. They have left because they were looking for God, and they weren’t finding him in the UMC.

    For me personally, i had to leave the UMC to actually learn about christianity- nothing besides the gospel of niceness was being taught in the UMC.

  77. Comment by Florida Conference Guy on January 20, 2020 at 10:27 am

    I am beginning to believe that orthodox Methodists should oppose this “grand bargain”. With all due respect to those involved in this proposal, and Mr. Feinberg, this proposal should die for now. The default position should not be “prove to us you have a 2/3 supermajority before you keep to keep the assets” your congregation built through faithful tithes and capital campaigns. That seems entirely inequitable. I would agree that many of us are sick and tired of having to fend off attacks against scripture from the liberal, unorthodox crowd, but I have too much invested into my church to walk away and start anew. I am a Methodist and proud to be a Methodist, but first I am a follower of Jesus.

    I am friends with and work with a number of gays and lesbians, some of whom attend a church. I wish them only the best at what following God offers them for their lives, although God clearly lays out in the scriptures that any sexual activity outside a traditional marriage is sexual sin.

    My desire – and I will be voicing it with my pastor and lay leader, is that our vote is against this proposal. And I hope the traditionalists stay together. I would offer something in the reverse. If they want to leave the church over the established book of discipline, then we should offer them an amicable settlement.
    Its also unfair to ask pastors who have been in the Methodist church for decades, and who adhere to scripture, to stay in the new church that will undoubtedly repeal key elements of the book of discipline or risk losing their pensions.

    We must all continue to pray for those who do not share our beliefs in orthodox Christianity while simultaneously advocating – sometimes fighting – for the truth that is Jesus Christ.

    But I hope traditional Methodists will oppose this resolution and vote it down.

  78. Comment by Scott on January 20, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Why do so many of you who believe the scriptures are the word of God think we are losing or sinning by leaving the UMC. In Jeremiah 31 God declared the old covenant null and void because the people disobeyed God’s laws. Jesus attacked the church establishment and instituted the new covenant and a new religion, Christianity fulfilling the promise of Jeremiah 31. In Revelation 21:5 God declares the world corrupt and says he is making all things new. Rebirth of our faithline is a constant in scripture. Perhaps God is creating a place for Bible believing Christians can find refuge and a faith home in a world that increasingly hates us and persecutes us. Maybe the new traditionalist denomination is the start of the revival? Ask your self why do you oppose the plan? To advance the cause of God or ego and not wanting to lose or just a strong sense of right and wrong. Is it God or human belief?

  79. Comment by Traditional Methodist Woman on January 20, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Scott, WELL SAID. Yes, maybe this is NOT a loss for traditionalists/orthodoxy; it’s a GAIN. Maybe this is God shaking out those who are disobedient and unfaithful to His Word, separating the wheat from the chaff, by creating this “new” form of Methodism (flushing out the true and faithful believers). Because all of the traditional Methodists I know are faithful to God’s Word and the BOD. Maybe we should look at this “new” Methodism as a POSITIVE step, one that had to be taken to weed out those who are rebellious and unfaithful and cultural. I was going to leave Methodism until I realized that, if I do, Satan wins! I’M STAYING to support the “new” traditional/orthodox Methodist church and encourage my brothers and sisters whom I love! And I will be a part of that fellowship of believers who stand strong for God’s Word, who have God’s laws written in their minds and on their hearts – we know who we are. Yes! I now view the separation not as a loss, but as a huge WIN! Bye bye, rebels! My whole perspective has shifted up toward the light. JERAMIAH 1:27-33 = “27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 29 “In those days people will no longer say,

    ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

    30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

    31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
    with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
    32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
    when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
    because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]”
    declares the Lord.
    33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

  80. Comment by Gary Bebop on January 20, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Preach!

  81. Comment by Traditional Methodist Woman on January 20, 2020 at 11:53 am

    God will judge those responsible for ripping apart the UMC.

  82. Comment by Naomi Lackey on January 20, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    I no longer go to a United Methodist Church- my tithe is now at Westside Family Church. My heart will always be a Methodist, though. The Wesley’s history, their love for the on living God is amazing. Their endurance, ALL their hymns– what the Methodist Church is doing, now, is NOT what the Wesley’s gave their lives to.
    The pastor at Westside has written books, also. BUT, Westside is NOT a ‘mega’ church. It is several small churches, doing a lot of good works. And, the pastor still knows that repentance is a necessary action- not making God in our image, but, knowing that we are made in His image. Not to be boastful, but, to be humble, because none of us are deserving of what Jesus did for us. The Trinity is real. The split is not to glorify the Trinity, but, is to glorify men. So, no thanks. I stayed in the Methodist church, after ‘searching’, to be sure of my faith. Luther discovered what the Wesley’s knew.. and he posted his thesis on the door, for all to see. This split does not go with what he said, either. It is all about making people comfortable– no need to consider God in the process. New Hymnals, new Bible interpretation— no thank you. God is not a part of any of this- it is all in the minds of men. It is sad. All progress is not good. This is not being done in the name of God the Father, Jesus the Son, Or the Holy Spirit. It is so far off the ‘path’. I go with Paul when he says “I am the chief of sinners’, but, I cannot change the words of Jesus for my own comfort- let alone the comfort of the wrong views. Sorry.

  83. Comment by Sad forthe UMC on January 21, 2020 at 1:04 am

    We left in 2015 after I met with my pastor on two issues: Abortion and Same-sex marriage. I told my pastor that I was troubled by the wording on abortion. United Methodists didn’t like abortion but were okay with it. My Pastor said, “well, you could write to change the social principle.” I asked why was he okay with it, to begin with?? He said that him and his wife were Pro-Life Methodists. So I told him I couldn’t be a part of a church where they were okay with killing babies no matter the circumstances of conception or at any age of gestation. Secondly, he said he was confident that the African Conferences would never allow the LGTBQ agenda to win. I asked him what if the church pushes for this “inclusive” agenda? He said he would leave. I am praying for those who love and fear God to step up and do the right thing; speak the truth in love and stand their ground. The deceived, fringe element should not become the UMC. Let them find their own road to hell if they don’t repent. Praying for the scales to fall from their eyes and to truly receive Jesus. I know I am a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. The truth must be told and stood on. Do not capitulate to the bullies. Follow Jesus, love people, share the Gospel, honor truth, seek life, protect the family unit, repent and be baptized – repeat.

  84. Comment by Tom N on January 24, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    I fear greatly for my home church having to deal with the proposed split in the UMC. I have been a member of several protestant churches during my life as a church soloist but my home is now with the UMC. My question to all of you is ‘What would Jesus say?’…..I ask my fellow congregants this question a lot. Another question is ‘Would Jesus love those who might be seeing love in a same sex partner?’ The need for us to love each other is the most important aspect of our religious life.

    Love is the real question. Can we continue to love….

  85. Comment by Ted on January 28, 2020 at 12:47 am

    Jesus would love the sinner, but he would not condone their sin.
    Just as he prevented the stoning of the prostitute, he also told her to go and sin no more.

  86. Comment by Elaine Miller on January 28, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind…and your neighbor as yourself.

    Is it love to leave people in their sin? Is it love to let them believe “their own happiness” is more important than being reconciled to God?

    Happiness comes and goes. God’s love endures forever. Ps 107:1

    O, give thanks to the LORD for He (alone) is good!

  87. Comment by John Smith on January 29, 2020 at 5:38 am

    Hmm, to the Bishops he might say: “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

    To those who persist in sin and call sin good he might say: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

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