United Methodist schism

January 28, 2020

United Methodism as We’ve Known It Is Gone. No one is “Leaving” It.

United Methodists and much of the media have been abuzz in this new year around a high-profile, carefully negotiated proposal that would end our denomination’s decades of theological infighting through separation into two or more denominations.

Lots of questions remain about details.

Will liberal United Methodists really, actually insist on sticking to their guns of adamantly refusing to follow our Lord’s Golden Rule of treating others as they would want to be treated? Will they really keep demanding that votes be blatantly “rigged” so that their side would “win” any annual conference currently subject to the traditional biblical standards of the United Methodist Discipline if a mere 44 percent minority vote for such a liberal take-over, while shamelessly imposing a double standard of traditionalist believers needing to muster a 57 percent super-majority just to stick with the same doctrinal and moral standards we have already had?

Really?

How can someone really keep a straight face, in loudly professing to follow Jesus Christ while stubbornly insisting upon disregarding one of His most core teachings?

How can those bishops who have already broken so much trust be trusted to act with honesty, fairness, and integrity in managing the transition and sorting processes?

These and other very important question will need to be addressed in the days ahead.

In the end, it is guaranteed that what ultimately comes out of the May 5-15, 2020 will not be ideal in anyone’s eyes.

But the bottom line is that it is now increasingly likely that by May 15, one way or another, we will find ourselves in a situation in which the current denomination now known as the United Methodist Church will evolve into at least two new denominations: one whose moral standards and underlying theology would allow a more permissive approach to same-sex union ceremonies and clergy being sexually active outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage, and one that would continue the same basic doctrinal and moral standards of the current United Methodist Church.

(I and others have extensively argued that the UMC’s standard that sex is only for monogamous, heterosexual marriage did not begin in 1972, but were already essentially embedded in our denomination’s historic, core, constitutionally protected Doctrinal Standards. No one has been able to seriously dispute this.)

Each annual conference and congregation will then have a choice to make – will we remain with this group of United Methodists, or this other one? Choosing to let someone else make that choice for you, or choosing to passively default into one or the other, is still a choice.

The rhetoric many use in framing some choices as “leaving the United Methodist Church” is misleading and should be avoided as much as possible.

The reality is that in any of the likely scenarios for separation, pieces of our denomination – as well as conferences, congregations, and people – will be divided, with some continuing with one of the new denominations and some continuing with the other.

At the risk of over-simplifying, one denomination is likely to end up with most of our current denomination’s hierarchy of general agencies while abandoning much of our current denomination’s doctrinal and moral standards. The other denomination will be the other way around: abandoning most of the bureaucracy while keeping our doctrinal and moral standards. This reflects fundamental differences in the priorities and values of different factions within the current UMC.

No matter which denomination you end up within, going with one or the other WILL separate you from much of the rest of the United Methodist Church as we have known it.

The end of our denomination as we know it is an occasion for sadness, and will take time for all of us to process and grieve.

Whatever may happen in terms of names and media narratives, the reality will be that the post-General Conference 2020 denominations will be fundamentally new and distinct from the current UMC. The United Methodist Church as we now know it – the whole packaged deal of the current structure, doctrine, moral standards, denominational culture, internal divisions, and people – will be no more, and two (or perhaps more) new denomination will be born in its place, each inheriting different parts of the old denomination from which they grew.

Each denomination can be expected to move in dramatically different directions, suddenly unhindered by internal resistance from those United Methodists who would now be in the other denomination. It is now widely agreed that differences over sexuality are merely the presenting issue from far more fundamental disagreements. I would expect that rather quickly, some of the most prominent differences between the new denominations would be over matters entirely separate from sexuality, such as the size of the denominational bureaucracy, or which denomination supports bishops in publicly teaching that Jesus Christ needed to be converted out of his sinful “bigotries and prejudices” (and which denomination does not).

Leaders in annual conferences and congregations need to be prepared to discern the choices before them, and decide which alignment and affiliation would be most faithful to the Gospel as they understand it.

Rather than talk about “leaving” something that we will no longer actually have, the choice should be understood in terms of continuing. As our conference / congregation continues our ministry, do we want to continue our ministry in closer alignment with this one group of United Methodists with one package of beliefs, values, and structure, or with this other group of United Methodists with a package of different beliefs, values, and structure?

May God grant us grace and wisdom as we all seek to discern and choose wisely.


66 Responses to United Methodism as We’ve Known It Is Gone. No one is “Leaving” It.

  1. John Smith says:

    I’m sorry but doesn’t this exemplify what the progressives have been doing from the start?

    “How can someone really keep a straight face, in loudly professing to follow Jesus Christ while stubbornly insisting upon disregarding one of His most core teachings?”

    The Orthodox are going to get rolled. Even if the $25 mill is not reduced I doubt full payment and do you really think the progressives will safeguard and guarantee the pensions of those who “hate and deny basic civil liberties to the LGBTQ+ community”?

    They got tired of fighting for God’s truth; I expect they will get tired of the legal battles over fulfilling money guarantees. If they turn out to be more tenacious in seeking after money then maybe the Progressives were right in their descriptions and traditionalist is a better term than orthodox.

    • MJ says:

      “The Orthodox are going to get rolled.”

      Yes, I’m afraid so. Once the proposal passes, the progressives and the secular media will control the narrative. The ensuing litigation will then favor the progressives, and those who “leave” will wonder what happened to all the good will.

      • Gerry says:

        It is a matter of perspective. Traditionalists aren’t retreating, we are advancing in a different direction! (as General Oliver P. Smith remarked of the Marines during the Korean War.)

        We are going to find a strong hill and stand together with resolute and stalwart brethren. I’ve talked to some who have a romantic view of the spiritual battle ahead of us and think of themselves as some kind of David or Samson who will vanquish the Progressives even when outnumbered. They will be asked to leave and will be grateful to have found we have built them a strong house to come home to.

        • John Smith says:

          Really, when will that strong hill be found and held? It wasn’t done in the beginning of the fight when it was more identifiable as a battle on scriptural authority. On what hill will the remnants rally? Look at the seminaries affiliated with the UMC. They already surrendered on the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection and the authority of scripture. Let me guess the make or break issue is going to be some secondary social issue like gambling.

      • Matthew Gotthardt says:

        Good analogy, Gerry.

  2. David F Miller says:

    I was at a meeting recently during which Bishop Bickerton spoke of the enormous harm done to the minority when the Traditional Plan passed with only 53% of the vote. Now he sees no harm to the majority if the Annual Conference cannot reach the 2/3 margin to join the Traditional Church. What a hypocrite!

  3. Andrew Hughes says:

    Once again the truth is revealed and thank you John for your work and stand. We all know the root of the division within the UMC is not just homosexuality. Homosexuality is just a symptom of a bigger disease. It is a deep seated difference in basic theology that has been the real ongoing struggle for years. It’s time to break up.

  4. JR says:

    “How can someone really keep a straight face, in loudly professing to follow Jesus Christ while stubbornly insisting upon disregarding one of His most core teachings?”

    I know, that whole ‘love your neighbor’ thing can be tough to handle.

    • Randy says:

      To truly love one’s neighbor means to want the best for him/her; not just for right now, but for eternity. God’s word carries infinitely more weight than human emotion.

  5. gary bebop says:

    Some incredulous soul has pointed out that 25 million is the equivalent of one church. Traditionalists are discomfited at the thought of that big pot they will leave behind in Egypt. But knowing what a mercy it is to separate from so much baggage and misery, I can’t but think Traditionalists are fighting off a divine prerogative, that of “making all things new.” The resistance to mercy is carnal and covetous, a kind of lingering over the buffet table with a heaping plate, anxious for the choicest morsels.

  6. Thomas Crawford says:

    “How can those bishops who have already broken so much trust be trusted to act with honesty, fairness, and integrity in managing the transition and sorting processes?” Spot in. I submitted a petition to the Western North Carolina Conference last year. According to the BOD and was submitted according to requirements. Bishop Leeland had someone call me and asked me to withdraw my petition because it was asking for “something the BOD would not allow,” REALLY . Not only was there no ruling, it was not included in the program or circulated on the floor for the delegates to consider.

    • Richard says:

      Thomas, we are also in the Western NC Conference and are not surprised by your experience. I emailed Bishop Leeland with a question and never received an answer.

    • Faithful UMW says:

      The Bishops have hijacked the church. They will build “their” denomination on rocky soil. As for the split, I see this as faithful Christian Methodists moving forward together. I’d sit in a field happy versus an unfaithful, fancy gothic church in order to hear the true Word.

  7. Spilts matter, more than some realize says:

    John,

    The quote “Rather than talk about “leaving” something that we will no longer actually have, the choice should be understood in terms of continuing” is an easy quote for those of us who are involved with this dispute and understand it.

    However, this gross failure of leadership by the denomination’s leaders doesn’t just affect clergy, or the few laity who are involved in the sausage making. What about the people who see (insert name here) UMC as their church, who suddenly realize it will not be there church any more?

    It will not be the church they’ve known and been a part of. It will now be something else, and something less than it used to be, no matter how positive a spin they hear about the new denomination, whether traditional or progressive. The brand means something, and shortly it will have lost that meaning, a shame and a problem going into the future if it happens.

    • Ray worsham says:

      Yes. The UMC has been over for some years now. The absence of leadership on all fronts has been unbelievable. Sadly most tithing laity are only now realizing it. A few years ago I heard a retired bishop and Perkins professor teaching a Sunday School class that the church was “over” and people not longer need it. He was pleased about that but thought it would take 50 years. Our society is coming for all those who think differently from the perceived norm. A small group in one church wrote the DS and Bishop to limit what the pastor could preach. I doubt they were they only one. IRD may be the last bastion of free religious thought in our nation app.

  8. td says:

    Now this is by far the best article i have read regarding “the protocol”.

    It is true that our umc is dead- and has been for quite some time. The sticking point here are the multitude of small neighborhood churches who will not survive the divorce. Some say with disrespectful flair- “well, whoever loses at that church can just go down the road to another church”. No, in small towns and rural areas, it is not that simple.

    These are churches their ancesters helped to found. These are churches where they got baptized and married. These are churches where they have raised their children that are in the same town where they go to school. Perhaps you respond, “that world is dead”. But isn’t that the world we should be creating? Shouldn’t “the protocol” cast aside this winner versus loser mentality? Couldn’t we instead split every church into 2 with assets and let those factions decide for themselves what to do?

    If this is truly a divorce, shouldn’t we treat it as one? No, we can’t, because someone has to win and be proclaimed the victor, with 44%!

    In the beginning this was about clergy, and it will end being about clergy. They are the ones both agitating and protesting and the ones being protected.

    • John Lomperis says:

      I share your concern for the small, rural congregations. But to clarify: For congregations voting, it is a bit different than with annual conferences. For congregations, the church council can set the bar for voting to leave its annual conference for the other denomination at simple-majority.

      • td says:

        Thanks for the respectful response. I do understand that the local church may have the option to have different vote thresholds. But the truth is that everyone is in limbo until something actually passes. And then the question will be if our leaders will follow the established rules.

        There simply is no trust left to work in good faith with our clergy and annual conference- and that includes our pastor. I realize that this may not be the situation in other annual conferences.

        Thank you for your work.

    • Gary Dean Gardner says:

      I share your concerns for the small rural churches, some already facing economic hardships with worse days to come when givers are forced to leave. In many cases they are not being educated about what is to come, an Annual Conference control tool, yet progressive agents in their congregations are actively seeding them with propaganda. “Reconciling Ministries” executive director was so thoughtless about the little churches she said, “First of all, no churches have to make a decision…If one of the plans for separation passes at the General Conference there will be an impact of some sort on local churches.” How shallow and callous. So long as they win, they don’t care if the little congregations survive.

  9. PFSchaffner says:

    Question. What is the proposed (?or likely) sequence with regard to clergy?

    E.g.: GC sets the rules, then

    (1) Conferences vote to join PC or TC (Progressive or Traditional Connexion).
    (2) Congregations vote to stick with their conference’s decision or join the other side.
    (3) Clergy follow their consciences and decide whether to stay with their congregation or seek a post on the other team.
    (4) Individuals decide whether to stay with their congregation or find another (or give up on church altogether, an increasingly attractive option).

    I’m concerned with the order of (2) and (3). If pastors declare themselves before congregations vote, that will certainly influence the congregational vote. “If you vote PC (TC), I’ll be resigning.” A messy sequence seems more likely: pastors will express their intentions informally, congregations will vote, conscious that their vote may cost them their pastor, among other things; then pastors will respond officially to their new situation. Our own pastor has made a few remarks recently — Freudian slips, really — that suggest he is imagining a situation in which he’ll have to resign. Though I do not know yet which circumstances–which team–would drive him to do that.

    • Virginia says:

      Many of the small rural churches will choose where they go based on if they think their choice will give them better odds of getting a pastor assigned to them. My mother’s church has had a part time retired pastor for a number of years. He just fully retired and the DS informed them they would have to figure out how to fill the pulpit on their own until July 1. They are scared of the coming split as they are concerned that they won’t be able to get a pastor

    • JR says:

      It’s a touchy situation – and I agree with you that where a pastor falls can have significant impact.

      In some congregations, you’d want to know that information – if a congregation leans one way but isn’t really committed, keeping a well-respected pastor might make a difference. You would end up losing some membership at the end of the scale, but that is going to happen regardless of how a pastor tips the scale.

      I think that has to be a case-by-case basis. Perhaps a discussion between the church council and the pastor would be a good thing to recommend, as to whether a pastor could/should make their position known.

      • John Smith says:

        I’m sorry but by what standard do you want a Pastor to keep quiet about what they consider to be the truth? How much of our current problems stem from Pastors (and Bishops) keeping quiet about what they believe?

    • td says:

      In my experience, the pastor has already made their position known and are active in promoting it to the congregation. And this situation is already causing divisions and resentments because, at least on the liberal side, the pastor has branded their traditional congregants as bigots and haters who refuse to “grow” with the “new christianity”. This has been my experience at our church.

      • Scott says:

        That is exactly what has happened at our church home of 20 years since the new pastor came last summer. He has been pushing the “new” church, telling us that the branch needs lopped off so the new church can emerge, and the new church he wants is the progressive church. He drops the LGBTQ acronym into sermons and is subtly pushing the congregation — a congregation that had both progressives and traditionalists — into the progressive camp. (We have a young child whom we are trying to raise correctly, and we don’t need her exposed to LGBTQ talk at church. Thankfully, we have her in a Catholic school with traditional, Christian values.) Our pastor, however, has his cheerleaders in the congregation, activists who “like” everything he posts. One family with several children who were very invovled in church activities has abruptly left and has told us they’re not coming back. My family has simply stopped going — and stopped supporting financially — the church until we can figure out where we are going. I have little hope that, with our current pastor, our church will hold to the traditional church when the split occurr. So, rightly or wrongly, my wife and I are already looking for out next church home — and it likely won’t be Methodist, unfortunately.

        Sorry for the rant, but I’m tired of the fight. Even if we were to “win,” we would lose. The split needs to occur, and soon, so that all can heal.

    • Ralph Weitz says:

      “give up on church altogether, an increasingly attractive option” Yes, that is happening when people become “nones.” Others are finding “traditional” churches in other places like Anglican or my choice when I left the Lutheran Church – a non-denominational church. There are many independent churches – small and large. They are growing through both proclaiming the gospel and by providing a refuge for those exiting mainline churches.

  10. William says:

    OK — separation is finally at hand. Delegates headed to GC are getting the full measure of this reality. Voting for separation is now the growing momentum and becoming the general consensus rapidly. So, once the Protocol (which hasn’t been written into petition form yet) is voted out of committee and onto the floor, nothing can stop the introduction of amendments. The obvious first amendment would be regarding the Annual Conference vote. If the delegates can be shown and convinced that, in the interest of abject fairness, that the Annual Conference vote should be SIMLLE MAJORITY, then nobody can stop that. So, traditionalists should not so easily give in — the amendment process awaits.

    • Gary Bebop says:

      I empathize with you, William, but there’s a political reality. Many American conferences and their delegations are dominated by progressive-leaning apparatchiki. In the West, it’s a “slam dunk.” I’m skeptical of the wisdom of trying a late stunt, that is, to rework what was so arduously (and delicately) stitched together. Disgruntled traditionalists commenting here (not you) have no delegates in their pockets, not enough to reverse the tides and change the orbits of the planets and their moons. They are bloviators.

      • William says:

        But, if and when this plan reaches the floor, the political reality dictates that there is no way the 57% Annual Conference vote requirement can be modified in a more equitable direction, a direction that civil legislation would demand, by appealing to the fair play principle of the delegates present? Or, would that sort of amendment throw the conference into chaos and maybe the plan itself into pearl because the delegates would be so tied and loyal to those who negotiated it that they would not be willing to modify it and demonstrate disloyalty to the negotiators? Is it true that delegates are free to vote their consciences at UMC General Conferences?

        • Gary Bebop says:

          The 57% was a late compromise (a split between simple majority and 2/3). The compromise was achieved as time ran out and the mediator was ready to leave the table. I’m skeptical of the sleight of hand that would be required to persuade petulant progressives to accept renegotiation. Traditionalists need to see the self-evident advantage of separating with their assets (and liabilities) without a ransom payment required.

          • William says:

            Claiming to be Christians while actively rigging the process, as is the usual and customary protocol for our UMC liberals, is alien to me. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? No wonder traditionalists want to run away from these people as fast as they can, even under an egregiously unfair negotiated deal.

          • John W Marsh says:

            I also find it ironic on the Progressive Boards that many are outraged that Traditionalists are allowed to leave with anything at all!

  11. jamie says:

    I do worry about our smaller churches. In NC, we are a very strong conference with orthodox members being led by very liberal pastors. I hope every church is informed without agenda. I also pray that many of our larger churches will put an umbrella over them to assist them if they choose to leave. This may not be true in other areas but here in NC our strongest churches are evangelical. We will be leaving together and hope to assist those that feel they are on an island by themselves. This division really hurts but I believe God is awesome enough to make something beautiful out of both expressions. Let’s hug and bless each other as we leave.

    • Dee says:

      I am a non-Methodist, non-church individual in a small NC town. Am ready and eager to join the UMC congregation in my town that has a progressive pastor. I know others who want to join a UM church that is progressive (inclusive/affirming of lgbtq folks and our lovel ones…we have parents, siblings, cousins, etc., who’ve left traditional, homophobic churches. Just adding this comment as an outsider, because the discussion never entertains what outsiders might think or bring to the church.

  12. Scott says:

    Having pastored several small churches, some very small, many of them will go to the traditional church. The only thing they get from conference is an appointment and a bill for apportionments. Since locals are more likely traditional, there should be enough to go around, or they will use a lay speaker. They have been paying their way for ages and will continue to do so.
    Now I have a couple of questions for John: 1. If an AC goes traditional what happens to it’s structure? If the WCA plan goes into effect much of it will be no longer necessary. Is the new church better off without bringing any of the AC sturcture with it? Will my DS and Bishop still have authority over my appointment? 2. What about a church that votes to go traditional? Will that vote take effect as soon as it happens or will there be an effective date for those decisions that gives time for the pastoral situation to be sorted out. I am worried about a traditional church with a liberal pastor who decides to quit. 3. Will there be a new denominational system already set up for the traditional church? Churches may need a list of approved pastors to hire from (those leaving progressive churches and AC’s) and pastors will need health insurance. Will the new denomination use the new WCA book of discipline until it can have a convening general conference. My concern is that churches leave the UMC and jump into a vacumn, especially those that are leaving a progressive AC. There will be chaos and pain but I hope we can mitigate it to some extent. By the way when you jump off of a sinking ship you get into a life boat. You do not worry about taking the table settings and decorations with you.

  13. John Lomperis says:

    Some great questions above about details. But the reality is that a lot of these details are still TBD, and may be changed going forward. A couple things:
    -when an AC or congregation votes to go traditional, there will still need to be a transition period for at least a short while
    -Remember, the WCA’s proposed Doctrines and Discipline is at this point just a TENTATIVE PROPOSAL, or really, a collection of many proposals. I imagine that when traditionalist United Methodists form our own denominational structure, we will get to decide which of those proposals we accept or reject.
    -When an annual conference ends up in one of the new denominations or another (and again, it will be ALL new denominations) the folks in that denomination in that area would initially inherit that conference’s assets, liabilities, and properties. But they would not be absolutely required to KEEP any particular assets, properties, or conference staffers that they would rather do without.

    • Kevin Barron says:

      Hello John, I appreciate your insights! I am confused about the 20% of an annual conference voting for that annual conference to have a vote. Does that mean:
      1. At annual conference, if 20% of the delegates vote to consider the issue, then it will be considered at THAT annual conference?
      OR
      2. At annual conference, if 20% of the delegates vote to consider the issue, then it will be voted on by all the churches in that annual conference?
      Thanks, just not clear to me.

      • Randy says:

        Kevin, my understanding (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) is your option #1. The momentum behind making SOME KIND of change in the UMC sooner rather than later would prevent the latter.

  14. Richard says:

    John, you have provided a good summary on what seriously needs to be addressed now, and what the outcome of GC will bring. Obviously work is being done in preparation for those 10 days of augmentation or manipulation to the final outcome. And, as you also point out, this process will include input from Bishops and others who have already broken so much trust. I don’t think they have had a sudden uplift in integrity, so no they can’t be trusted to act with honesty and fairness.

  15. Robert Moulton says:

    Some will go with one, some with the other, and some will leave Methodism entirely. Too many already have.

    • William says:

      I say, give each Methodist a ballot and find out:

      TO WHICH METHODIST DENOMINATION DO YOU WANT
      TO BELONG?
      PLEASE CHECK✔️ ONE.

      _______ A Liberal Denomination

      (A) Traditional, universal, and orthodox Biblical authority and interpretation replaced with a contemporary, liberal, and contextual Biblical authority and interpretation especially with relation to human sexuality and marriage.

      (B) Christ’s love in his death, resurrection, and repentance preached for the forgiveness of sins in his name revised to include a new love understanding that embraces repentance exempt full LGBT+ inclusiveness and the accompanying sexual practices and lifestyles thereof.

      (C). Acceptance of a new understanding of marriage to include same-sex marriage equally with the traditional Biblical understanding of marriage.

      (D) The Book of Discipline on marriage changed from a man and a woman to two people for inclusiveness of same-sex marriage, and also updated to liberalize sexual ethics by deleting references disapproving the practice of homosexuality and other LGBT+ sexual behaviors.

      (E) Candidates for licensing, commissioning, and ordination into ministry who practice sexual relations outside that of a man and woman in marriage fully accepted.

      (F) The mission of a liberal denomination is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world that includes a new understanding of a grace that highly prioritizes a new social justice definition that embraces full inclusion of LGBT+ sexual ethics and lifestyles.

      ————————————————

      _______ A Traditional Denomination

      (A) Obedience to traditional-orthodox Biblical authority, interpretation, and theology especially with relation to human sexuality and marriage.

      (B) Full inclusiveness and diversity of all for the sharing of Christ’s love — his death, resurrection, and preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name. — the Good News.

      (C) Obedience to Biblically defined sexual ethics prohibiting practices of sexual relations, including homosexuality and other LGBT+ sexual practices, outside that of a man and a woman in marriage.

      (D) Obedience to Biblical marriage, God’s created order for marriage, of one man and one woman as defined by Jesus, and obedience to and the uniform enforcement of the Book of Discipline on Biblical marriage and sexual ethics.

      (E) Acceptance of candidates for licensing, commissioning, and ordination into ministry who are obedient to fidelity in Christian marriage and celibacy in singleness.

      (F) The mission of a traditional denomination is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by welcoming all, healing the broken, saving the sinner, and living together peacefully into holiness and service.

    • William says:

      TO WHICH METHODIST DENOMINATION DO YOU WANT
      TO BELONG?
      PLEASE CHECK✔️ ONE.

      _______ A Liberal Denomination

      (A) Traditional, universal, and orthodox Biblical authority and interpretation replaced with a contemporary, liberal, and contextual Biblical authority and interpretation especially with relation to human sexuality and marriage.

      (B) Christ’s love in his death, resurrection, and repentance preached for the forgiveness of sins in his name revised to include a new love understanding that embraces repentance exempt full LGBT+ inclusiveness and the accompanying sexual practices and lifestyles thereof.

      (C). Acceptance of a new understanding of marriage to include same-sex marriage equally with the traditional Biblical understanding of marriage.

      (D) The Book of Discipline on marriage changed from a man and a woman to two people for inclusiveness of same-sex marriage, and also updated to liberalize sexual ethics by deleting references disapproving the practice of homosexuality and other LGBT+ sexual behaviors.

      (E) Candidates for licensing, commissioning, and ordination into ministry who practice sexual relations outside that of a man and woman in marriage fully accepted.

      (F) The mission of a liberal denomination is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world that includes a new understanding of a grace that highly prioritizes a new social justice definition that embraces full inclusion of LGBT+ sexual ethics and lifestyles.

      ————————————————

      _______ A Traditional Denomination

      (A) Obedience to traditional-orthodox Biblical authority, interpretation, and theology especially with relation to human sexuality and marriage.

      (B) Full inclusiveness and diversity of all for the sharing of Christ’s love — his death, resurrection, and preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name. — the Good News.

      (C) Obedience to Biblically defined sexual ethics prohibiting practices of sexual relations, including homosexuality and other LGBT+ sexual practices, outside that of a man and a woman in marriage.

      (D) Obedience to Biblical marriage, God’s created order for marriage, of one man and one woman as defined by Jesus, and obedience to and the uniform enforcement of the Book of Discipline on Biblical marriage and sexual ethics.

      (E) Acceptance of candidates for licensing, commissioning, and ordination into ministry who are obedient to fidelity in Christian marriage and celibacy in singleness.

      (F) The mission of a traditional denomination is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by welcoming all, healing the broken, saving the sinner, and living together peacefully into holiness and service.

      • Gary Bebop says:

        William, you do recognize that individuals are not prevented from joining or separating themselves from Methodism, right? But annual conferences take a representative vote. Local churches may (or not) take a vote. There’s no plebiscite, as such. Scattered individuals have no legal interest, as such, but local churches and annual conferences do. These votes are about the disposition of congregations and annual conferences, their properties and their obligations

        • William says:

          (1) Individuals are, indeed, separating themselves from Methodism, by the thousands in the USA. (2) Annual Conferences take a”representative vote” — how do the ministers and laity representatives know or care what their congregations believe or think on their way to Annual Conference? (3) Since when did the scattered individuals, those funding the whole operation, not have a legal interest in the disposition of congregations and annual conferences? (4) How can these decisions be made honestly in a vacuum minus involvement of the membership and their understanding of this schism with relation to the deep Biblical, doctrinal, and theological divide thereof, thus dictating their feedback?

          • Gary Bebop says:

            The short answer is that individuals have no legal claims to church property. Recall the Trust Clause? And lay members of annual conference do not vote as per instructions of their home congregations. They are free to vote their consciences. This is not well understood.

  16. Mike says:

    Just ran across the following article by someone on the progressive side.

    https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2020/1/28/where-are-faces-queer-and-liberal-christianity

    The progressive who wrote this article seems to be spiking the football on this, and for good reason as far as I can tell. She also seems to be the future face of the denomination once this all goes down.

    Spin it however you want, I’m not sure how this agreement can be viewed as anything other than a massive defeat for Orthodox Christians after we won the day at last year’s special conference. That’s exactly how people I know on the progressive side of this certainly seem to view it. They’re keeping the name, the denomination, most of the church property, and basically the membership of every local congregation who can’t muster the almost 60% vote required to leave, while we traditionalists will receive a couple of fig-leaves and a bit of go-away money as we’re drummed out the back door.

    Shame on IRD, WCA, and others on the traditionalist side who basically made a deal with the devil, managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory, and ripped the rug out from under those of us who were counting on them to stand up for our church and for Biblical truth.

    I’ve been a Methodist for close to 25 years, married in the church, daughter baptized and confirmed here, founded Sunday school classes, led kids on trips and outings, participated in charitable and outreach efforts, and paid my offerings. I’ve done it all and I love my church. Like some others have said here, though, I’m exploring my options with the Catholic Church or perhaps the new ACNA church down the street.

    I certainly have no interest in joining a new church led by a bunch of people who sold us all out, regardless of the orthodoxy of their theological leanings.

    • Gary Bebop says:

      There’s a misunderstanding embedded in your comment. There’s no 57% required of local churches under the Protocol.. (The 57% applies only for annual conference separation.) The local church council gets to decide between a simple majority and 2/3. A simple majority is a low bar, and that seems fair to me. Local churches may separate with a simple majority and take their property/assets/liabilities with them to a new denomination.

      • William says:

        Local churches would have until Dec. 31, 2024 to change denominations. The deadline for Annual Conferences would be July 1, 2021. So, a local church in disagreement with its conference has an extended period of time to decide (how many times could a local church vote in that time frame?). And, it seems the local “church council” (what’s that?) has tremendous power in deciding by which majority to require. How exactly would that work? How would the entire congregation fit into that crucial decision? What constitutes a congregation, only those who can physically get there to vote? What about the disabled, hospitalized, nursing home residents, et al? Or what about those on role who haven’t been there in years? Of course, the details are yet to be hammered out. But, how important will the amendment process be at GC be in arriving at a final plan? I can’t imagine this thing being debated on the floor without multiple proposed and voted on amendments.

        • Gary Bebop says:

          A couple of Disciplinary details should not be overlooked. When a local church conference is “called” (convened), the district superintendent conducts it. Only members-present-and-voting are counted. No absentee ballots or proxies are allowed. By the way, the local church council is the local administrative body. Again, this is already in the Discipline.

          • William says:

            Incredible. We’ll be expected to follow the Book of Discipline for the procedure. Any congregation that violates the procedures in the BOD could have their vote declared null and void by the Judicial Council if hauled before that body? This whole thing looks to be an egregious exposure of real and glaring likely disenfranchisement of the membership cemented into the structure.

    • John Lomperis says:

      Please try to check your facts before making strongly worded accusations. Christian treatment of each other is essential for building what comes next. UM Action’s core values and commitments remain. While I was not part of this Protocol and am unhappy with some obviously unjust details, I also see the need to recognize the realities with which we have to work. I don’t see how that makes me any more responsible for some of the unjust parts of the Protocol as my recognizing any other fallen reality.

      • William says:

        John, I have no doubt whatsoever that you practice this —- “Christian treatment of each other is essential for building what comes next“. The core values of UM Action is what traditionalists have come to trust and depend on as rock solid. There’s no reason to doubt or question the truth. UM Action can be depended on. And, the contributions of traditionalists to this Protocol Plan can be trusted as being done in good faith, with neighborly love, and by following the Golden Rule.

        My issue — I am struggling mightily with the fact that too many of our liberal brethren do not practice such. This is not a judgement statement, just the factual history of this conflict. Therefore, trusting them to display Christian treatment of others is asking an awful lot of traditionalists. I am just afraid that they will use the decision making structure of the BOD to their advantage as much as they can, especially freezing traditionalists out of the process as much as possible — ironically, while they have ignored or openly defied those parts of the BOD with which they disagree.

    • Kevin says:

      Mike, I was not there, so this is all my opinion as to why “we” “won” but we are leaving. 1. “They” refuse to leave. They’ve been fighting for 47 years and are willing to do so for another 47. (Also remember that “losing” didn’t really affect them- in many cases they act without regard for the Book of Discipline, so they continue to act according to conscience while fighting.) 2. The plan to isolate the US into an administrative region would eventually pass, and without the support of Africa, a rope with one strand is easily cut. We have decided to leave Egypt and Pharaoh is giving us $25M. Continuing to make bricks while getting whipped has no upside.

  17. Dee says:

    Voices from the outside offer a perspective, whether the cloistered appreciate it or not. Just received a text message from a younger, middle aged friend (which I passed on to friends, young and old..btw, I’m very much a senior, just for perspective.
    Everyone finds the text hilarious. Folks on this board, probably not.

    “The United Methodist Church is splitting in two. One will allow same-sex marriage. The other will have a terrible choir.”

    Text message

    • Vivian C. Hiestand says:

      Dee – Thank you for contributing a voice from the outside. You seem to think those who post here are unaware of the perspective you offer. I doubt that your assumption is based on reality, however.

      I have lived in the Western Jurisdiction my entire life, in several states. Here are my questions to you:
      I keep hearing from people like you that there are thousands of people just waiting for the church to change so they can attend. We have dozens of churches in my area that fit your needs. The vast majority of them are dying away – even those employing radically new ways to do church or follow Christ.

      Why aren’t you attending and supporting a church like that already?

      The church served by the Hacking Christianity pastor is in a major metropolitan area, yet it has fewer than 160 in attendance and seems to be struggling to maintain even that. Why aren’t like minded people rushing to their doors?

      There is a disconnect here – different kinds on each side- that I think we would be wise to ponder and pray about. At any rate, I see no reason to think that the newly separated progressive UMC will suddenly grow upon separation.

  18. Paul Rudolph says:

    I joined a Methodist church 25 years ago. My father in law once said “don’t fall in love with a house, if you need to move, then move”. Same with the Methodist Church. If it completely disappears, it matters not. God did not say, “let there be Methodists”. Who, with any love for God, would join with a crowd whose basic understanding of the Bible is that “men should have sex with men?” This sad, sick crowd will not last. There are many other places to go who follow the Bible. Choose one and join with them. Who could possibly care about the Methodists? They really believe in nothing, which is why it is so easy to be a Methodist.

  19. Mark W. Flynn says:

    Thank you, John L., for a very helpful article.

  20. Bob Kuyper says:

    If it turns out that the new denomination offers things like lower apportionments, more choice in pastors for a church and term limits (12 years) for bishops, it should be an attractive choice. A lot of the “wealth” of the UMC is in real estate which house offices for a lot a people who are doing nothing for the church. We will be better off without that burden.

  21. William says:

    The below is how the North Georgia Conference bishop, a liberal, describes a Post-Separation UMC, and how she describes those leaving under the Protocol Plan. If a liberal was not practicing deception, he/she would not be breathing.

    ————————————————

    1. This Protocol offers a path for The United Methodist Church to continue to be a denomination for those with traditional, centrist, and progressive perspectives. The post-separation United Methodist Church will continue to have room for divergent perspectives and value diversity as an essential component of our faith.

    2. The Protocol also offers a path to separate for those whose convictions do not allow them to continue to be United Methodist.

  22. William says:

    Will traditionalists ever learn that these liberals NEVER play fair, can NEVER be trusted, and obviously DID NOT negotiate this Protocol Plan in good faith. See points #2 and 3.

    ———————————————

    Message from the North Georgia Conference Cabinet on the
    Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation

    On Monday, the North Georgia Cabinet and Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson watched a live stream broadcast of a panel interview with the participants in the mediation process who developed the Protocol. Afterward, we discussed the importance of this document, what the Protocol means to us here in North Georgia, and the widespread misinformation we have encountered. We offer you the following clarifying points from our discussion.

    1.The participants in the mediation represent centrist, progressive, and traditionalist perspectives, and come from the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. These leaders came to unanimous agreement on the Protocol.

    2.This Protocol offers a path for The United Methodist Church to continue to be a denomination for those with traditional, centrist, and progressive perspectives. The post-separation United Methodist Church will continue to have room for divergent perspectives and value diversity as an essential component of our faith.

    3. The Protocol also offers a path to separate for those whose convictions do not allow them to continue to be United Methodist.

    4.The mediation participants are now developing legislation that mirrors the Protocol. This legislation will be considered in May by the 2020 General Conference. It is expected that this legislation will be considered ahead of all other legislation.

    5. What we hold in common, above all else, is our call to reach those who do not yet know Christ’s love.

  23. Eric says:

    John, I would like to see an article on how clergy in the mainlines tend to be more liberal than laity. I attended United Methodist colleges and have several UM clergy on my Facebook friends list, along with a lot of UM laity, and it seems very obvious that on the LGBT issue (and every other issue on the table), the clergy are certainly further left than the laity. I’d say it all starts in the seminaries, where the future clergy get 3 yrs of brainwashing that the laity have never endured.

    • John Smith says:

      Which also brings up some questions for what the follow on church will be and what lessons have been learned.
      1) Will there be Bishops (stupid question I know, no one is giving up those perks)?
      2) Will there be accountability provisions or will it be the UMC model?
      3) Will the Elders continue to be beholden and solely in the power of the bishops or will the local churches finally have some control? Will Bishops still be able to use “just resolution” to protect those they wish protected?
      4) Where will new elders come from? Which seminaries will the WRC affiliate with? What kind of vetting can we expect to see?

      If the WRC is going to be the UMC reborn but “with people who think the right way” what is the purpose? Repeats and sequels don’t prosper.

      • John Smith says:

        While we’re discussing the “new” Methodist setup; what about the trust clause? Will that finally be put to rest or will the WCA feel the need for control?

  24. Bob Land says:

    Wise words indeed: “Rather than talk about “leaving” something that we will no longer actually have, the choice should be understood in terms of continuing. As our conference / congregation continues our ministry, do we want to continue our ministry in closer alignment with this one group of United Methodists with one package of beliefs, values, and structure, or with this other group of United Methodists with a package of different beliefs, values, and structure?” We need to used this sort of language whenever we speak of our United Methodist future. No one is truly leaving The UMC, for The UMC, as we have always known it, will not extend beyond General Conference 2020.

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