The Un-tied Methodist Church

As most of you know, I wasn’t elected Bishop last week, and to let everyone know – I’m fine. I might not carry a shepherd’s crook like a Bishop does, but will always seek to carry a shepherd’s heart. I am so happy to remain as pastor of St. John’s, Aiken. What a wonderful church! Our future is bright as a congregation, and I am happy to still be on the journey with you.

The future is not so bright for our denomination. I love the United Methodist Church, too much to “go quietly into the night.” I’m talking about events in the Western Jurisdiction with its election of a person who self-proclaims that she is living in a relationship that’s not in agreement with our beliefs. I find this both schismatic and sad. Any hope of a special called session of General Conference to hear the findings of a Council of Bishops’ Study Commission about the complexities of balancing the practice of homosexuality with Scripture have been circumvented, if not completely derailed. While I was in Portland for this year’s General Conference, a person who is married to her partner, said to me, “We don’t have the votes to overturn the Book of Discipline, but we’re going to burn the house down as we leave.” Wow!

Though it is just as chargeable an offense to withhold apportionments as it is to be a self-avowed practicing homosexual, we’re at a tipping point when the actions of the Western Jurisdiction and the promoters of this way of thinking don’t care anymore. There are people whose ways of interpreting the Bible can justify anything, both left and right. I would rather be on the side of 95% of Christendom on this issue than not. We are a house divided. Some contend that they are doing God’s will, that they are keeping a higher covenant than ones made at their ordination. In my understanding, a covenant is a covenant, none higher or lower than another. We are at a place I hoped that I would never see, but I knew a day of reckoning would come.

We are paying for our past sins. When the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, The Methodist Episcopal Church (North), and the Methodist Protestant Church reunited in 1939 we built in a regionalism born of racism. We created the Central Jurisdiction to segregate African-Americans, and we created 5 other jurisdictions with semi-autonomous powers in matters like the election of bishops. The election of bishops had heretofore been under the purview of the General Conference. In 1939 we created a regionalistic protection against adverse influence by other jurisdictions. This was the last gasp of the “Lost Cause” of the South. We didn’t want those “_______ Yankees” telling us who to get along with or elect.

Now it’s appropriately coming back to haunt us. There are constitutional protections that allow each jurisdiction to elect whom it will, and Boards of Ordained Ministry, that are solely nominated by their respective bishops, as to whom they declare fit for ministry, subject to approval from the Clergy Session. The Western Jurisdiction has proven how far this built-in permissiveness can be manipulated. The “United” in Methodism has now become “untied.” It’s all in where one places the “i.”

I want us to remain a “we,” and constitutionally we are if we believe that the power of the General Conference supersedes all other lesser bodies, and has sole authority over all matters that are distinctively connectional (Par. 16). Therefore, I urge the Council of Bishops to act quickly and ask for a special session of General Conference to try and prevent schism. More than that, we must affirm Biblical obedience before it’s too late to escape the eternal consequences of our disobedience.

The Judicial Council must not wait until its fall docket to adjudicate the request for a declaratory decision by the South Central Jurisdiction on the election of self-avowed and practicing lesbian, Karen Oliveto, as a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction. We either have a covenant, a Book of Discipline, or we don’t. There are those who sincerely feel that this action by the Western Jurisdiction and similar actions by others are God’s will and celebrate. They lump together Martin Luther’s disobedience to the Roman Catholic Church, John Wesley’s to the Anglican Church, and our own reversals of thoughts about women clergy and civil rights for people of color, but forget the non-violent methods of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. By breaking covenant they have done harm to the whole United Methodist Connection. Violence and “burning the house down” is the way of the world, not Christ. Isn’t this really about a higher matter than winners and losers? Isn’t it really about our understanding of Scripture. Everyone gets to have an opinion, but not God, and I’m tired of it. I’ve read all the positions, heard it all, and I’m sick of the polarization and duplicitous actions that have moved us from being a “purple” denomination, and made us a polarized “red” and “blue” one.

I am not worried about St. John’s UMC. I am worried about The United Methodist Church as a whole. A true story keeps banging in my brain. When South Carolina still flew the Confederate flag over our Statehouse, there were many of us who were ashamed. My wife and I were two of those people. Somehow everyone didn’t get the message about our personal feelings on the subject, got confused, or whatever, and an individual gave us a framed print of the Statehouse dome with the US flag, the SC flag, and the Confederate flag still flying. Cindy took it back to the gift shop and said she wanted to return it. The lady there said they didn’t give refunds. Cindy replied, “I’m not asking for a refund. I just want to get rid of it.” The lady responded, “But you’re a Southerner. This is your heritage.” Cindy prophetically replied, “This is NOT my heritage. This is my history. History is something we’re supposed to learn from. Heritage is something you want to pass on to your children.”

For too long the history of 1939 and its regionalistic racism and barriers have held us in bondage to the past, and we haven’t learned from it. Our Wesleyan heritage of grace and holiness hasn’t been passed on well enough. Some would say that this is the fault of our seminaries and publishing house. I grew up in the wake of the “God is Dead” existentialist neo-orthodox anything goes era. Those days are back again, under a new guise, and it’s killing us.

We must now choose both orthodoxy and orthopraxy, not separating right belief from right action. We must value all humans, but not yield to the temptation to say that everything is good. God said everything was good before Adam and Eve’s Fall, not afterward. God has been trying to undo the consequences of sin ever since, supremely through Jesus.

Therefore, our divisive structures must be destroyed. We must be united in our covenant, or let those who want to disobey leave in peace. Having a single US conference doesn’t help at all. It trounces Wesley’s tenet that the world is our parish. In our global UMC, it would also tell the world that we believe western liberalism and its values are the 21st century’s version of colonialism. We must have a common Book of Discipline and form a “more perfect union” by letting go of a sinful history and forging a new way based on a common heritage. We must bow before Jesus and pledge allegiance to Him, humble ourselves, and repent. Let us learn from history and pass our Godly heritage on to our children, before it’s too late!

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72 thoughts on “The Un-tied Methodist Church

  1. God bless you, Doctor Tim. Theirs, it seems to me, is the way of all unrepentant sinners: insidious compromising of any and all principles not in agreement with their particular form of sinning. Deny the veracity of the principles. Deny morality. Deny moral law, a la C S Lewis. Deny the Bible. Destroy the Church. Destroy society.

    1. A time for prayer and soul searching, to be sure. tim

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    1. A time for prayer! Thanks, Jim, tim

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      1. Thanks, t

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  2. I share your frustration. However, as an ordained Elder I am torn on the issue of covenant and disobedience. Yes, we have entered into covenant as UM pastors. We have also entered into covenant with God and the Gospel. I disagree with you that all covenants are equal and none higher or lower than another. I am in covenant with God as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I am in covenant with my country as a citizen. However, my country is a human-made institution and therefore flawed at time. There are times, think South Africa and apartheid, when covenant with country is in direct conflict with covenant with God. My covenant with God supercedes any other covenant in my life. Civil disobedience dates back to Christ, and is part of our Christian heritage. I do not believe in violent measures, ie “burn it down as we leave,” but one person’s “violent” is another’s “civil disobedience.” Civil disobedience has been responsible for a lot of “Kingdom building” throughout Christendom. Again, I share your frustration. However, I remain torn on the issue. Peace.

    1. Randy, God bless you. We don’t agree except covenant in my book isn’t a civil contract. It’s a holy one with God as witness. Your analogy breaks down at that point, in my humble opinion. I’m not torn on this subject anymore. I feel great pain, however, and sense yours. God bless us all through these difficult times, tim

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  3. Everybody seems to want to “stretch” the realms of all rules as it applies to their situation. We are a sick, broken country and being broken apart at the seams more and more each day. Our prayers are with you as you struggle to “fix” UMC’s brokenness. Sad!

    1. It’s a mess and it’s up to all of us Sally! It’s up to the Bishops to lead us, God being their helper, tim

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    1. Thanks, Steve. tim

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  4. I believe you best summed up my stance on this unfortunate and seemingly unavoidable situation. “We must be united in our covenant, or let those who want to disobey leave in peace.” We are after all the United Methodist CHURCH , not EMPIRE.
    To those who wish to compare themselves to, and brand themselves as, revolutionaries; You’re free to go. No hatred, no slander, no bloodshed. You may very well institute the most anti-climactic revolution in history. God bless you. You will remain in our prayers as you forge a new and “progressive” movement or denomination. We will pray that you continue to preach Christ as Lord and Savior wherever you go. After all, as the Apostle Paul has taught us, that is all that really matters.

    1. Well said. Thanks for sharing, tim

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    1. Thanks, Robert, but we’re good where we are! tim

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  5. I’m not sure what the basis of your claim that the action was “violent” is. Was anyone coerced to vote the way they did? Since Karen Oliveto was an “Elder in Good Standing,” she was eligible for election. As you point out, the Jurisdictional System was set up to preclude the General Church from vetoing the election of a Bishop by a Jurisdiction. I can understand that you think it was unwise, but I don’t see any “violence.”

    1. Well, I wrote what I’ve felt and it has been gut-punched violence. I’m so glad you pointed out the vagaries in the definition of “good standing.” It seems obvious to me that the BOD should define the meaning and 304.3 and 2702.1 do a pretty good job of settling the matter. tim

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      1. Tim, Paragraph 304.3 and its footnotes are already very clear. Keep in mind that there are TWO self-avowals in play. The first is a self-avowal of a clergy that s/he is a homosexual As a result of our last General, several hundred of our clergy have done that.
        The second self-avowal is that one is a Practicing homosexual. The Judicial Council has defined that is a homosexual relationship that involves “genital sexual activity.” (Judicial Council Decision 920).
        Further, such self-avowals must be made to a Bishop, a District Superintendent, a board of Ordained Ministry, a District Committee on Ordained Ministry, or a Clergy Session of an Annual Conference.
        Two caveats: a “self -avowal’ cannot be coerced—otherwise it is not a SELF-avowal. Second, saying one is ‘partnered’ or ‘married’ does not confirm “genital sexual activity.”
        Few gay or lesbian clergy have made such a second self-avowal–and for good reason: they feel called to ordained ministry and would like to keep their jobs.
        This is how our polity has evolved over the last 44 years, Tim: approved, step by step, by General Conferences.
        If it were me, I’d be thrilled if all our gay and lesbian clergy were in committed, monogamous, legal marriages: that way we could treat all clergy under the same standards for propriety and Covenant. However, to make being human and needing sexual intimacy normal for one class of clergy and anathema to another class of clergy, for being the way God created them, is unfair and unethical. Worse yet, we do this ostensibly to protect five verses of Scripture that were written for a different era of human existence, Yet because many in the church are offended at the IDEA of two people having a sexual relationship, we use those five verses as the lynchpin that holds together our notion of “the authority of the Scriptures.
        I believe we could do better exegetical my, theologically, lovingly, inclusively, and morally.
        Tom Griffith

      2. Your response about equal treatment is interesting and insightful, tim

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    1. I’m okay in my skin and theology. I know how to work with anyone, and value integrity. I’m okay with that and what happened . Jesus is Lord and more importantly “my Lord.” I wish that and the UMC were as faithful to Him as He is to us! This is a time when we need to dedicate ourselves to prayer. Peace and thanks, tim

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  6. I share your disappointment that the Western jurisdiction would defy the connection with their election. I don’t agree that homosexuality is a sin or something that should disqualify one for ministry. I firmly believe that if we could avoid schism over this issue then within a generation we would find that the strife over homosexuality would pass and we could welcome gay people into ministry just as we do divorced people. Now it seems we may end up with two sets of Methodists where each set is defined by its view on the sinfulness of homosexuality. I would prefer we could continue to embrace the idea that we insist on core values of Christianity while giving others the grace to disagree on side issue like this one.

    1. John, There are lots of things incompatible with Christian teaching. I believe there are timeless lists that identify quite a few. I’m okay with God being the judge, as probably you are. Peace, tim

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    2. John, I sense your sincerity and love of Christ’s church, but something drummed home by a seminary prof gives me pause here. We should never trivialize or minimize the seriousness of sin – any sin – for that is the central reason for Christ’s coming. While I’ll be the first to agree that there is far more ‘heterosexual sin’ than other varieties, the presenting issue and the one that the Western Jurisdiction has staked their claim over is regarding homosexual practices. Sure, we practice grace and forgiveness for the sins of others, because God first forgave us. But Paul’s writings also give us guidance on when to walk away from the unrepentant sinner and leave it in God’s hands. That’s where I feel I’ve come to – a place where some people not only don’t agree with my point of view but are also not of a mind to have a civil conversation about it. Their minds are made up. Lord have mercy.

      1. Lord, Have mercy; Christ have mercy! tim

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    1. Amen and thanks, t

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  7. This is so TIMELY and APPROPRIATE. I remember when the General Conference was last in Indianapolis, sometime in either the 1980s or 1990s. A gentleman was photographed, by the UNITED METHODIST REPORTER as I recall, carrying a poster that read,” Welcome to the UNTIED Methodist Church. It was over this very same issue, but the article here is even more PROPHETIC now than the sign then. I wish I could find that old photo and the date it appeared during the Indianapolis General Conference. It would be good to post on Facebook and other online sites right now. Thanks for this thoughtful, insightful, orthodox article. It encourages all of us who remain faithful and true to God’s Holy Word in the United Methodist denomination at this time.

    1. We have got to stay true and pray fervently. Thanks, tim

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  8. Well said. My heart hurts. I don’t think the 88 people who voted for this understood what they were doing to our church. Praying with you for Bishops and those who will be appointed to the commission.

    1. Mine, too, like a bad dream. Praying… t

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  9. Thank you for your thoughts, I do agree . So glad you are doing well after last week. You are truly called to do God’s work. I thought it was needed as Bishop for the church. Perhaps God wants you to speak up and help save our denomination. God Bless, Linda King Kentucky

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    1. Linda, Thanks and wish you the best. I’m glad to be right here. Take care, tim

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  10. Allowing any ordination of any clergy (gay,Lesbian) that does not line up with the teaching & preaching of Jesus Christ is a sin in itself & contrary to the word. One day every knee will bow & every tongue confess & give account.

    1. Judgment and grace on us all, judgment and grace for us all, t

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  11. I am excited to read your ideas about this. Since a committee is already working on a new, global Book of Discipline, maybe this can actually gain some traction. I would also like to CHANGE the way the church chooses bishops. Our current process of election is too political. It seems to me that we could borrow the method used by the Coptic church, and choose bishops by prayerfully casting lots after several qualified candidates have been identified. This is both Biblical and Wesleyan. It lessens the power struggles and gives God a vote.

    Anyway, I’d like to see a NEW global Wesleyan Church emerge. Let’s confess our failure to be an obedient church and move on to a new model of church.

    1. Holly, I’m with you! tim

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      1. I watched the Western Jurisdiction as it was live streamed on the internet. As one who has been a member of an Annual Conference (California-Pacific) for the last 45 years, the Western Jurisdiction has been a part of my life. For the record, nine candidates were lifted up from the eight Annual Conferences and from delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference. Yes, there was a sense among many that the Western Jurisdictional Conference should elect gay or lesbian bishop. However, the votes did not reflect that position to be a majority, until several of the candidates, including two gay candidates, had withdrawn their names from consideration. In the penultimate ballot, there were two names left with votes. Karen Oliveto had a clear majority. The other candidate withdrew, and the final ballot had 88 out of 100 eligible voting delegates (7/8 of the body) voting unanimously for Bishop Oliveto. The remaining 1/8 chose not to submit ballots.

        My own opinion: I personally knew about half of the candidates. I think that of the nine candidates for our one position of Bishop, Karen Oliveto was the most qualified—and would have been, had she been “straight” instead of lesbian.

        Jesus taught us to look at people “by their fruits, not their roots.” I am a straight pastor, but for 11 years I was pastor of our church in West Hollywood, CA—a gay mecca. On any given Sunday, at least half of my congregation was comprised of gay men. My experience was that overall they fit the pattern of most typical congregations: some came only for Christmas and Easter, some came occasionally, some came regularly to worship but weren’t involved beyond that, and some were deeply involved in the life and ministry of the church. Those who were the most deeply involved showed the same fruits, whether they were gay or straight. One felt a call to the ministry. What our rule does is to tell us we cannot consider persons whose fruits of the Spirit are obvious to all, but because they have different sexual desires than the majority, that lack of consideration should be viewed as “normal.”

        Some day, someone will tell me exactly when and why homosexuality became a litmus test for whom we should view as “true” Christians or not. I’ve read all three of the passages even the Commission to study Homosexuality, that existed between 1988-1992, reported. The two verses in Leviticus actually are not an order to exclude “men who sleep with a man as if with a woman.” It actually was a passage against contraception—the ancient Israelites had the same problem of all primitive societies: infant mortality. They needed to have lots of babies being born to survive as a society. Since the product of male orgasm is more visible than the product of female orgasm, they viewed semen as the “seed” which could be planted in a woman, and would emerge as do plants from seeds. Therefore, they viewed any emission of semen from a man in a way that would preclude a conception from occurring was a threat to the well-being of Israel.

        The passage in Romans was a diatribe of the Apostle Paul against people who would turn to what we today would call “hookers” rather than confining their sexual activity within their family or Christian community—which we as a church would still agree with today.

        For what its worth: the west coast, New York City area, Northern Illinois (the Chicago area), Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul area), and New England have been areas to which many who are gay or lesbian have moved because there they could find possible partners that were scarce in the communities in which they grew up. It would not surprise me that many who are opposed to “the practice of homosexuality” in the church are persons who live in areas where those who are gay or lesbian are in an extreme minority. They are responding to ideas that they find repulsive, even if those ideas are not imposed upon them, and may not be true—or if they are true, are actually more prevalent in the straight community rather than the gay and lesbian community.

        You are asking me, and others, to uphold a Covenant which Scriplture, Tradition, Reason and Personal Experience tell me is invalid. You are asking me, and others, to ignore ministry to some of God’s children, not because they are evil, but because they engage in sexual relationships in a way different from that in which I engage with my wife. You are asking me, and others, to ignore obvious movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others, to uphold a rule which has no basis in fact—only in emotional response by people who are grossed out by the idea of two people of the same gender having sex together.

        I too want the denomination to remain together, as it has been since 1939. I want the richness of experiences of members of Christ’s Church being able to be with each other, sharing experiences of God’s grace in their lives. I want to see what God is doing in the lives of a wide variety of persons, just as the Gospels relate. But if it means I have to neglect ministering to people in churches I have served, and to exclude the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of persons whose only difference from me is the kind of person with whom they are sexually attracted—then that is too high a price to pay for someone else’s emotion.

      2. Tom, I am not asking you to do anything, but think and I’m grateful for your perspective. Your statement, “You are asking me, and others, to uphold a Covenant which Scriplture, Tradition, Reason and Personal Experience tell me is invalid. You are asking me, and others, to ignore ministry to some of God’s children, not because they are evil, but because they engage in sexual relationships in a way different from that in which I engage with my wife. You are asking me, and others, to ignore obvious movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others, to uphold a rule which has no basis in fact—only in emotional response by people who are grossed out by the idea of two people of the same gender having sex together,” is a untrue characterization of me. I am in ministry with gay persons right now and find each to be wonderful. This isn’t about being different or grossed out, or deciding through whom the Holy Spirit works. Your “fruits and roots” notion breaks down here unless you are a universalist. Example: I don’t care what religion my doctor is just so she or he is the best. I’m thinking the Holy Spirit through General Revelation can work through anybody!

        The issue at hand, in my mind, is about the audacity to the WJ in purposely breaking covenant with the rest of us, The Book of Discipline, and the teachings of the Church. I get along with most people including many from your jurisdiction. You have presupposed that the rest of us are ignorant, less intelligent, and bigoted because we believe in keeping our word, and God’s Word. Yes, I’m talking about God’s Word. Unlike your reading material, I have found quite a plethora of evidence (Richard Hays’ Moral Vision of the New Testament) that doesn’t shoot from the hip with inadequate arguments that attack integrity or mental acuity.

        I do wish that the list of “incompatible” actions weren’t limited to just one thing. I think that is horrible. However, I do agree with certain standards for the UMC’s leadership, both lay and clergy. I think the crux of the matter is that there are some who promote prevenient grace as a blanket endorsement while I hold that sanctifying grace is our most distinctive doctrine in every aspect of life. Anyway, I’m sure the dialogue will continue with another Commission. I’m also sure that the votes will never change the church’s statement, ESPECIALLY because there are those like in the WJ who are already disobedient. You’ve lost any higher moral ground by this action.

        tim

    1. Thanks, Carolyn, tim

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  12. Tim, I do not agree with the practice of homosexuality but I do believe everyone should hear the the good news of Jesus Christ. Also, everyone should be able to be in ministry to the Lord. However, just like an adulterer a homosexual is unable to serve in certain capacities such as pastoral offices. A pedophile should not be in charge of the youth group but needs to hear about Jesus and be restored to the body of Christ. Those who feel differently than I do have their right to express that belief but don’t belittle me because my belief is not the same. I base my belief on scripture and not on what makes me feel good about myself. I have homosexual friends and I welcome them to worship with me and some do. Jesus is the focus of everything. My sins are just as real as anyone else’s and my redemption comes from the Lord.

    1. Willie, Indeed all, including me, need grace but not cheap grace without repentance! tim

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  13. Thank you for sharing your insight. The “anything goes” understanding of the bible just is not compatible with the current Discipline. We either have one to lead us or we don’t. Rules are to keep us from living in chaos. Imagine driving in a city with no traffic laws.
    I appreciate your position on covenant.
    Surly it has to mean something.
    God’s will be done.
    Thanks again Tim.
    Roger

    1. Roger, Indeed I pray for God’s will but we thwart it all the time. We need covenant and stipulations to keep us and others safe. Broad is the way to destruction, but… tim

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  14. Wonderful response to this troubling situation. You and I share a lot in common and I pray that God will raise up a leader and the masses to stand firm on his word, our covenant and our rules. Thank you for stepping up and know that you are not alone in your convictions or your stance. May God bless in us and through us for the building of his Kingdom.

    1. Farley, Proud to be in same corner as you, and be your friend. tim

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  15. Tim, I greatly appreciated your words. As an ordained elder I am deeply troubled over this issue and honestly believe that the situation has already gone too far for us to remain “united.” I honestly believe that those no longer wanting to comply with our Book of Discipline and our covenant with God as United Methodist Christians should quietly go their own way. Sadly, I see no other way forward.

    1. Steve, I would rather they leave than destroy us! So sad, tim

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  16. Rev McClendon,
    Thank you for your perspective. I hear you saying you want the Council of Bishops to act on their task force now rather than waiting, in light of the WJ election. I would also say it seems your perspective on the topic of homosexuality and its incompatibility with Christian doctrine is pretty clear…unless of course I have read into this post a stance you don’t agree with, in which case I am sorry.

    But I am wondering what you will do if the COB comes back with a recommendation to include all sexual orientations in ordination and in marriage. Have you thought about how you will respond if that happens?

    1. You’ve read me right and there are at least three options: the GC of which I’ve been a delegate 6 times will vote against the recommendations; there will be separation and I’ll keep pastoring my church. If first two don’t happen and we abandon orthodox Xty, then I’ll leave and find a new church home. tim

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      1. Tim, I appreciate everything you said in OP as well as your own RSVP comments. When you just mentioned your “third” option, “leaving and finding a new Church home,” I would do the same as well, although the Methodist Church, circa 1968, has always been my Church home, the place where I was converted and called to preach, I would have to do likewise, even though I have now been retired from active ministry for four years. I am thinking a good Church home might just be the ANGLICAN CHURCH IN AMERICA. It is very Wesleyan, Biblical, orthodox, evangelical, and to me, I like the appeal of being re-ordained and “standing in Apostolic succession.” Thank you for this wonderful blog article.

      2. Dave, I truly understand but hold out hope, tim

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    2. That won’t happen–especially since American’s have less control of the COB. Also, any recommendation of the COB must be affirmed by General Conference. General Conference will not do so. (Praise God at least for that.)

      1. Holly, The numbers aren’t there and that’s why there are acts of disobedience. If they had the numbers there would be no Commission. You’re exactly right, tim

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  17. Tim, you are so right in pointing out our need for prayer, now as never before. I am struck by the same attitude that started this sinful mess in Genesis…..”Has God really said?”…..That has been our struggle throughout history, to avoid the mistake of twisting God’s Word with Satan’s lying question, “Did God really say” or perhaps more currently, “Did God really mean…..?” Once we introduce doubt about what God said (or worse what He meant), we begin to take amazing license and set ourselves up for spiritual disaster. I join you in praying for the Methodist Church, and for our nation and our world. God help us.

    1. Hal, Time to pray, for sure, and with one eye open! tim

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  18. Thanks Tim for your offering for leadership at SEJ. The road ahead is not easy but it is clear. Jesus said we would have to take up our cross to follow Him. My prayer is we will hold the line on right as approved by General Conference. It is unfortunate that some want to “burn the house down” rather than just leave and start their own “church” by rewriting the Word of God to fit their own cultural desires. It would be better to be a smaller United Methodist Church that abides in God than a larger one that is unholy and follows the ways of the cultures in which they reside. One only needs to read God’s Word to see the results from “doing what is right in their own eyes”. Jesus did not come to replace the law but to fulfill the law. Blessings to you in your ministry.

    1. Larry, I agree that we must hold the line on orthodoxy and offer grace to all, but not cheap grace which isn’t grace at all. GC will not change the language, but we must love people as they leave. Take care of yourself, tim

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  19. You said what I have said to other this week. The Discipline means nothing. There have been too many incidents where the Discipline has been ignored and/or selectively enforced, and the results came to fruition with this nomination and election. This should not stand, must not stand… If it does, the church will split for sure. Leadership is a very small minority of United Methodism, and this misguided leadership has grossly misread the typical pew-filling, financially supporting, praying Methodist – both laity and clergy. We cannot be all things to all people. We will end up being nothing to no one…

    1. Prophetic words that I hope are heard and heeded. This is a time to be faithful and take the high road. We should not stoop to the level of schism. Peace, tim

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    2. Well said Ed. We have a Discipline with no disciplinary power, unenforced by those empowered and charged to do so. If those who will not assume their responsibility now are left in place, my hope is they will not be given the same opportunity when the church does inevitably split.

      1. Interesting thought about consequences for non-action, tim

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  20. I have only been a member of a UMC church for 4 years, but have been a Bible believing Christian for 45 years. My previous church membership as a child was AG, my adult life SBC, but I was drawn to the church I am in today because it was a Spirit filled, Bible teaching church that was multi-racial, is a house of prayer that believes in divine healing, and that is devoted to missions. I have never called myself a Methodist, a Baptist, or a Pentecostal. I am a Bible believing disciple of Jesus Christ.
    It has been difficult for me to grapple with the rejection of God’s word by so many members and clergy of the UMC and I had been contemplating if I should withdraw my membership and just keep serving in my local church. I stumbled across your blog today as I was researching the articles or statements of faith of several denominations.
    Thank you for this well written article. It has encouraged me to pray for the UMC and especially for leaders like you and my pastor. Maybe God has placed me in a UMC church “for such a time as this.”

    1. Denise, Stay! We need prayer warriors! Thank you for your faithfulness and love of Jesus! tim

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  21. In response to Tom Griffith: Tom, I’ve read your response a couple times and have been wrestling with the best way to respond. I wish I could know better how you reached some of the beliefs and assumptions you make because I do not want to mischaracterize your intentions in the same way the Tim and I (and many others) are feeling that we are being misrepresented.

    For openers, in what ways do you see Karen Oliveto as “most qualified”? From where we stand, her comments in public engagements where she was asked to speak, combined with her pursuit of an openly gay relationship and willfully choosing to disobey the guidelines she pledged to live by every step of the way to ecclesial election seems to represent a level of integrity not suited for church leadership. There has also been a clear lack of accountability in many segments of our hierarchy that made this all possible. In the corporate world where I spent most of my life, if you disagreed with company policy you could campaign to change it but you risked being shown the door if you knowingly flouted the rules, whether as an act of conscience or simply foolish disregard.

    It also does not surprise me, having dealt with this issue for most of my life, that once the inclination to find ways of accommodating cultural trends gains traction we lose our center. I’ve talked with a number of people who may have been taught how to study scripture with the respect it deserves as God’s word, yet, who under pressure, allow a creeping lack of respect for scripture to be quickly filled with more Reason and Experience. Soon, reason, experience and personal stories step forward and scripture barely fills in the voids it may be allowed to inhabit.

    To me, the one thing creating the biggest barrier to understanding and dialog (Holy Conferencing?) is the way those of us who have not gotten on board are misrepresented. I have to agree with Tim that your comments about the prejudicial mindset of traditionalists and the assumption that we hate and exclude LGTBQ folks from ministry is begging the question. From my experience in the heartlands, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, all the activism and forceful attempts at normalization are counterproductive to deep rooted understanding and productive relationships. The desires you express for our denomination are some that I share, but gauging from your comments, I suspect at this point I have seen and experienced more of that than what you have.

    If you and others who protest the UMC position earnestly desire to preserve unity and honor God in all things, I ask that you get to know some of us personally and sit across the table for respectful conversation, just as I do regularly with my gay friends.

    1. Well said, Carl, and thanks. tim

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