The “None-Church Plan” of the UMC

I was invited this past weekend to a meeting that alleged that it was a gathering of theologically diverse opinions on the practice of homosexuality in relation to The United Methodist Church. We made declarations that the press would not be invited and that our discussions would be kept private. I even turned down an interview by the United Methodist News Service though someone had evidently already ratted me out as holding a certain opinion. It should have been little surprise that yesterday I saw a news article that had a multitude of folks from the same meeting sharing their opinions, all of which were different than mine.

I find it very disingenuous when it feels like progressives have invited a few token traditionalists to their meeting. I was not going to fall into the trap of being provoked to speak up in opposition. That would have only led to more demonization of the traditional perspective and victimization of those on the left whom I genuinely count as persons of sacred worth and many as friends. Those who really know me are certain of my integrity and love for the UMC. The final straw came out yesterday evening when I was informed that some people who went from the meeting in Nashville to the Uniting Methodists meeting in Dallas reported that the Nashville meeting was unanimous in its support of the One Church Plan. Since then I have been informed that report was erroneous. Actually it was basically stated that there was consensus of support except for 5 people. I have heard all sorts of reports, either true or apocryphal, of overwhelming support for the One Church Plan, but let me tell you from first-hand experience, it is not the case everywhere, and it was not in Nashville.

Unanimity couldn’t be further from the truth. Bear in mind that the Nashville meeting was decidedly a progressive group. Someone volunteered that the leaders attempted to have more traditional voices present, but they refused to come. I don’t know that for sure, but what I am certain of is that when we as a group were asked to vote by secret ballot only 10 persons said they were 100% all-in for the One Church Plan (OCP); 26 voted that they would support it, “but it’s not perfect;” 15 voted “Yes, with reservations;” 3 said “Yes, only if changes are made;” and 2, including me, voted “I’m not in favor.” A progressive bishop presented his pitch for the OCP and said that there were problems with it, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditionalist Plan, but when pressed by questions about what he liked about each, he could not name anything he liked about any plan except the OCP. He couldn’t name anything wrong with it either.

What does this narrative say about so-called unanimity and the hard-press sell by members of the Council of Bishops? First, there was no unanimity. There were people on the left and the right who oppose the OCP because it is either seen as a further slap in the face to progressives who want more extensive full inclusion of gays and their allies, or it was a slap in traditionalist’s faces because it is ruinous to our ecclesiology and Biblical hermeneutic. Only 10 people out of 55 were “all-in.”

So we have bishops who are disregarding the promises made in the Council to stay out of the fray of support or non-support. It seems that the only bishops holding to their promises are the conservative ones. The bishop who spoke to us also gave some telling numbers of the vote on the plans at the Council of Bishops (COB). He stated that 58% of the COB wanted to support just one plan, not three. When that was decided he said 60% voted for the One Church Plan. I thank God for the 40% especially since I thought via news media or word of mouth that the number of progressives was much higher. Then he reported that after the OCP was made the main plan, 90% of the COB wanted the OCP plus the other two plans presented. The obvious conclusion is that there is not unanimity in the COB.

I do worry, however, whether or not whomever decides the presiding bishops for the Special Session of General Conference can find someone genuinely unbiased enough to adequately preside. I hate to think such a thought, but given the propaganda machine out of the COB for the One Church Plan, it makes me wonder. The bishop that presented to us in Nashville even suggested strategies to get the One Church Plan passed. I am grateful that the Judicial Council basically forced the COB to refer the whole matter back to the Commission on a Way Forward instead of it coming straight from the COB. There is no way, by Judicial Council precedent, that the COB could refer anything straight to the General Conference without violating the “separation of powers” that exists in our ecclesiology.

The subject of ecclesiology and the One Church Plan weigh heavily on my opposition to it. We are a connectional polity. That’s our means of governance. Local churches don’t call their preachers because we are a “sent ministry.” So stay awake when progressives want to say that yielding on the issue of homosexual practice won’t hurt us because it didn’t hurt the Presbyterians, Lutherans, UCC, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, and Cooperative Baptists, etc. Well, we do things differently than all of those. Every one of them in some fashion or another call their own pastor. That’s not who we are. If the One Church Plan passes then we will run down the road toward congregationalism where every church decides who they want for their clergy. Who will lose? My daughter, who is a UM Elder, for one. Churches that still want the proverbial white male in their 30’s with 3 children with an impossible 30 years of experience are often unwilling to have a female pastor or person of color even if they are much more qualified. Congregationalism will destroy our unique “sent ministry.” By the way, the Episcopalians, ELCA Lutherans, PCUSA Presbyterians, and all the rest who have loosened their stance on homosexuality have lost an average 30% of their membership in just a few years. So much for Making Disciples of Jesus Christ. If this issue affects these “call” and “modified call” systems this way, the ramifications for us will be worse. It will be a sea-change for our connectional system.

So the One Church Plan sends us down an awful precipice where everyone decides their own prerogative on same sex behaviors and marriage and would necessitate local church votes, annual conference votes, and individual clergy decisions on whether they can perform same-sex unions, allow their churches to do the same, and if bishops can’t in good conscience ordain, commission, or license someone who is self-avowed and practicing then another bishop who is willing to do it must be brought in. This all smacks of confusion and not connectionalism. For all you Judicial Council readers like me, look at Judicial Decision 544 which says this as it pertains to same sex unions and behaviors in relation to our ecclesiology, clergy standards and appointments:

“Although the paragraph under consideration relates to homosexuality, the question presently before the Judicial Council is not restricted to that particular issue. The matter before this body is one of the connectional system within The United Methodist Church and the relationship of the ministry to both the General and Annual Conferences. The Constitution, Par. 15, gives the General Conference the power to fix the basic requirements for ministry, while it becomes the responsibility of the Annual Conference, as set forth in Par. 36, to measure, evaluate, and vote upon candidates, as regards the minimum standards enacted by the General Conference. Ordination in The United Methodist Church is not local, nor provincial, but worldwide. While each Annual Conference is a door through which one may enter the ministry of the entire church, the Annual Conference cannot reduce nor avoid stipulations established by the General Conference which must be met by the church’s ministry everywhere. An Annual Conference might set specific qualifications for its ministerial members, but does not have the authority to legislate in contradiction to a General Conference mandate or requirement.”

Every African and whomever else has been falsely promised that this One Church Plan won’t affect them needs to know that it does! “Ordination, etc. is worldwide,” and our minimum standards are global. The One Church Plan has a huge constitutional hurdle when it promotes annual conferences as the arbiter of minimum clergy standards. The General Conference cannot delegate its power to a lesser body. We are not a diocesan polity where each area does its own thing. Pargraph 543.7 2016 Book of Discipline says that the BOD can be adapted, but only “as the special conditions and the mission of the church in the area require, especially concerning the organization and administration…” So, the OCP’s so-called promise of local adaptation simply doesn’t ring true. Do you want to be part of a denomination where Christian faithfulness, money, resources, and reputation are linked to that which God, the overwhelming majority of Christendom and the General Conference have declared incompatible with Christian teaching?

Our connectional polity brands how we’re different from other denominations, and why we need more uniformity in our minimum credentialing standards. How in the world will bishops and cabinets decide which clergy fit with which church if the standards are all over the place? The One Church Plan is the most deceitful title of any plan I know. Instead of unity of the church, it fragments it even more. Rather than promoting unity, it reduces The United Methodist Church to a shell of what we’re meant to be in making disciples as a connectional enterprise.

Certainly, there are many things incompatible with Christian teaching, and I often feel the dishonesty and pain of singling out just one thing. I am sorry for my sisters and brothers who have experienced harm over this issue. However, I have been harmed, too. The whole denomination has been harmed by the religious terrorists that have co-opted sessions of General Conference, the Connectional Table, and lots of other church venues with their protests. We have been sidetracked, distracted, and harmed as a denomination. One leader this past weekend offered a telling statement, “Everyone’s truth is the truth.” No, it isn’t. Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” The bishop presenting the OCP this weekend said the Traditional Plan is “un-Biblical” even though it represents orthodox Christian teaching from the church’s inception.

God did have something to say about marriage, as evidenced in the complementarity of Genesis 1 and Romans 1. God wants us male and female in relationship because that partnership best defines the Biblical plan for human interaction. Jesus said in Matthew 19:5-6 and Mark 10:7-9, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” The same words are repeated in Genesis 2:24! The issue, therefore, of homosexual practice is a bell-weather issue about the authority of Scripture, the nature of humankind, the doctrine of sin, and much more. If everyone’s truth is the truth then why did Jesus need to die on a cross? On women’s leadership in the church and on questions of race there is clear evidence in Scripture that supports women’s ordination and the fact that God calls people of every nation and race, plus there are passages to the contrary. But, in the case of homosexual practice, the Bible consistently denies its validity in every instance. As Wesleyans we believe in Sanctifying Grace; i.e., that God doesn’t save us through Jesus Christ to leave us the way God found us, but to transform us for the transformation of the world.

So, I’m not giving up on the UMC, but we need to be ready for 2019’s Special Session of General Conference. Traditional delegates from the US, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines must not compromise and pass the so-called One Church Plan. Enough is enough! The “progressive” tactic isn’t new. This will be my 7th General Conference. I’ve seen this all before. For instance, the 32 constitutional amendments of 2008 were an attempt to separate us into theologically diverse regions and those amendments overwhelmingly failed. The Connectional Table’s Local Option Plan didn’t even make it out of committee in 2016. By a mere 23 vote margin the Commission on a Way Forward was created and it has been dominated by bishops under a cloud of secrecy.

The One Church Plan preferred by progressives and 60% of the COB is not a way forward. It will do more harm than good. With thanks to the faithful members of the Commission and the 40% of the bishops who value our ecclesiology and the Gospel over expediency and yielding to culture, I have to still say without any equivocation: “Vote the One Church Plan down!” It is really the “None Church Plan.”

GC0066

107 thoughts on “The “None-Church Plan” of the UMC

  1. Making the most noise does not make one the majority. Count me as one of the multitude of quiet ones going about his/her business of being the church waiting to see what the UMC decides.

    1. Scott, We’re going to be fine if everyone holds fast. This will be voted down as it has since we began as a denomination. I agree with you,

      tim

      1. Voted down, but will it be a dead issue? I’m tired of the conflict. I want it not only voted down, but something that can not, will not be brought up at the next GC.

    2. Hope you are right in that I hope it is voted down. “They” have been at this over and over and if those who oppose this way of thinking leave the church, well….I guess it’s over. The Methodist Church, Ununited is finished.

      1. Ray, We must hang in there and stop this travesty of our Discipline. Peace, tim

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  2. This pains an old-fashioned Methodist so much. Stand firm, Doctor Tim, stand firm! We either believe in the Bible, or we do not. Our church should not be a homosexual playground.

    1. I believe in everyone’s sacred worth but not at the cost of our identity as a denomination, the Bible, and the Gospel. If there is no sin, there’s no need for the Gospel.

      tim

      1. Macy, Stand fast! tim

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      2. Dr. Tim McClendon was my favorite course of study instructors. He was hurting so bad he had to lay flat just to ease the pain. He didn’t stop he stayed the course. Dr. McClendon keep doing what you did back then stay the course. God bless you Sir.

      3. Ron, Those were good times! Thanks! Be assured, I’m going to hold fast, knowing you will too, tim

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    1. Amen and thanks, tim

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    1. Thanks, Tom! I will with the help of people like you! tim

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  3. There is a phrase that Wesley apparently didn’t say although it has been attributed to him: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.” Regardless, I have always embraced this phrase as a descriptor for one of the things I love about Methodists.

    I don’t know whether traditionalists embrace this sentiment or not. I don’t know whether they consider opposition to gay ministers and gay marriage to be part of the essentials of Christ’s teachings. But I will be saddened if traditionalists leave our church over this issue.

    The one church model tries to accommodate the spirit of this quote, and I like it for that reason. Religious practices are inherently influenced by culture, and this model tries to avoid schisms related to cultural differences.

    1. I think our connectional polity is an essential. John Wesley would never ever in my mind support a congregational system of government. I have taught all three UM required courses on UM History, Doctrine and Polity at the seminary level. The One Church Plan relies on United Methodist “niceness” at the expense of our identity.

      tim

      1. Yes – Sanctifying grace! t

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  4. Thank for this article. I am so sorry that through this process people are behaving in a decided misleading and manipulative way. One thing i would like to address comes from the decline in the the other mainline denominations. While I’m certain there is some effect upon denominations due to position on homosexuality, the decline is much much more complex than this simple correlation. We are moving into a postchristian era, more impacted by social change related to societal shifts around family, jobs, community involvement.

    1. Tom, Thanks and you might be right about the complexity, but a timeline of the precipitous decline in these churches takes a obvious fall when they changed their stance. If we do what they did in our Connectional polity, it will be worse, in my opinion. tim

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  5. As a lifetime Methodist/United Methodist, I finally understand why I spent the bulk of my life in a spiritual never-never land caught in a non-descript gray area between God and the world: The American United Methodist Church is mired down in theological plurality. So much for it being a small unique part of the much larger holy catholic/universal church. I too am quietly hoping the One Church Plan dies; if it does not, my future with organized religion becomes a blank because I will no longer be part of The United Methodist Church. As far as I am concerned the United Methodist Church has far exceeded John Wesley’s fear that Methodism would become the form of religion without the power–we have no clue what we believe about anything! The One Church plan will seal the UMC’s identity of “we believe whatever”.

    1. Betsy, Well said, but hang in there. We have shot this stuff down time after time. I’ll be glad when it ends so we can get back to the Bible and the Gospel mission! tim

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  6. The fact that so many cannot see how this issue relates to so many “essential” root level things is what is most sad and telling.

    1. Amen, Kelly! tim

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  7. We support your stand on the
    scripture regarding homosexuality.
    Will keep you in our prayers
    and strength to prevail in this
    matter.
    In Christian love,
    Swanie and Wayne Smith

    1. Swanie and Wayne, Thanks so much! tim

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    2. Yes, we will be praying that the One Church Plan is not accepted. My husband and I have discussed this and prayed about it. We will leave the Methodist Church should this be accepted. Although my nephew, who is a Praise Team leader with another denomination, has stated that since the Methodist Church is even considering this, they have fallen away from the Bible and accepted the unholy worldly view. And he is right. So we may go ahead and leave. But for now we are just waiting to see. Thank you, Tim. We appreciate you writing this.

      1. Shari, Please stay and hold fast. The plans of those on the left have been defeated every time. It’s time for us to be as innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents! Hang in there and pray for eyes to be opened! tim

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  8. Hi Tim,

    It was great meeting you this weekend. I appreciated our conversations and the spirit with which we had them. As a member of the planning team, I’d like to make sure we have a clear understanding about some apparent misconceptions. I’m not speaking for the team, just me.

    1. We did have theological diversity, as evidenced by the different views of the one church plan that you note in your post. As we pointed out on the first day, the group leaned progressive. That’s because we had a difficult time getting conservatives to agree to come. I appreciate that you did choose to come.

    2. We didn’t invite the media. Period, full stop. But media members do have a way of finding out about stuff. So, as we indicated during our time together, we knew that Heather Hahn was aware of the gathering. The team talked about how to handle that. I think those who read her article (https://www.umnews.org/en/news/gc2019-delegates-discuss-way-forward) will agree that she really didn’t discuss any of the discussions and certainly didn’t “out” any of the participants. I’ve been assured that no one gave her your name or your theological position but I don’t think you’ve kept your theological views private so it wouldn’t be too hard for her to make those connections on her own. I would also like to point out that you actually did violate the covenant we made by publishing this post. You shared much more detail than the article by Heather Hahn did.

    3. I just got off the plane from Dallas. I’m familiar with each person who was both in Nashville and in Dallas. I have personally spoken to most of them since you published your post. None of us heard anybody make the claim that there was unanimous support in Nashville for the One Church Plan. Please tell me who said that. I’d like to personally verify that somebody said that so the record can be corrected. As both you and Heather Hahn articulated, there was a variety of perspectives represented.

    Tim, part of our problem in the UMC and current American culture is that we don’t tell the truth. You heard me disagree with the person who talked about no truth. The rest of your post articulated your views pretty well. I disagree with you, but I respect your opinion. The three areas above are simply factually incorrect assertions that I hope you will keep in mind as you reflect more on your experience.

    David

    1. David, It was good to meet you as well and I was impressed by your faithfulness and integrity. Someone in Nashville told Heather to contact me. Someone connected to Dallas told me that a friend from the North Central Jurisdiction reported the so-called unanimity that “occurred in the Nashville meeting’s first 5 minutes.” I should have asked that personally, but frankly was ticked when Heather contacted me. I told her I would not comment. My citation of vote counts seemed an appropriate response to the report of “unanimity.” I felt a bit bruised and used. I’m sorry for any inappropriate behavior on my part. Sincerely, tim

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      1. Tim, I’m looking through the recorded live-streams and cannot find what your friend is referencing. It’s possible that “consensus” was used and was translated emotionally as “unanimous” but I can’t even find that.

        I’ll acknowledge that if I held your theological position I would have probably felt bruised too. In the planning team’s reflections following the end of the session we acknowledged that there were times when people who were expressing their emotions should have been stopped from making attacks. For that, I apologize.

        Blessings to you and your ministry,
        DavId

      2. David, Thanks and God bless you and yours. Prayers for us all between now and February, and forever, tim

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      3. David, BTW I thought we made a compact not to share names for protection reasons. I shared vote totals only, and no names. Evidently Heather contacted others and they shared info quite freely. I did not, tim

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        * Tim McClendon commented on The “None-Church Plan” of the UMC *

        I was invited this past weekend to a meeting that alleged that it was a gathering of theologically diverse opinions on the …

        David, Thanks and God bless you and yours. Prayers for us all between now and February, and forever, tim

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      4. did you ask that “friend” what he said before publishing condemnation of him? because if the reference was to me, in Dallas i said we moved more quickly to centering on the One Church Plan than i expected but that 5 persons did not agree with it. It’s a version of what i said to you privately in Nashville. So, if that section is a report from what i said, I request a correction to this post. It’s in the paragraph about your integrity.

      5. Lonnie, Glad to hear what was said by you. I am not sure if someone else said the statement that was quoted to me. Frankly, I was a bit skeptical that it was you and actually not certain as no names were not exchanged. I was (as already stated) trying to hold our confidence and refused atheism request for an interview. Something you and others did. I wonder who told Heather Hahn that I was even there. I’m sorry. I do wish that I had called you and was appreciative of your hospitality In Nashville. Please accept my apology, tim

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      6. Lonnie, I hope that you understand that I was not referencing anything that you told me in Nashville. I’m not making this up. HH asked for my comments and I refused out of respect just like I refused to be a part of your strategy session because that didn’t feel right for me to do because it seemed inappropriate. Next thing I know is seeing a news post and hearing about “unanimity in 5 minutes.” This what I was told and that it came from someone who attended both events. I didn’t ask names and didn’t point fingers. I’m done with this and hope to remain friends. Peace, tim

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        * Tim McClendon commented on The “None-Church Plan” of the UMC *

        I was invited this past weekend to a meeting that alleged that it was a gathering of theologically diverse opinions on the …

        Lonnie, Glad to hear what was said by you. I am not sure if someone else said the statement that was quoted to me. Frankly, I was a bit skeptical that it was you and actually not certain as no names were not exchanged. I was (as already stated) trying to hold our confidence and refused atheism request for an interview. Something you and others did. I wonder who told Heather Hahn that I was even there. I’m sorry. I do wish that I had called you and was appreciative of your hospitality In Nashville. Please accept my apology, tim

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  9. Tim, thanks for sharing. I have a very good “traditionalist” friend that was also invited to a similar pre-meeting where this was discussed. When he discussed the options with me afterward, I immediately reverted back to my childhood UMC teachings from the Bible on “a man and a woman will be joined” as the basis for my beliefs. While I believe we should love all God’s children, I do not believe that we should let a decided minority take us down a path that is not based in the Scriptures. Thank God for people like you who will stand fast against this tide.

    1. Tony, Trying to avoid conflict is difficult, but sometimes one has to speak out. Thanks, tim

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  10. Tim, thank you for representing the truth as many of us see it, with clarity and humility. So much of what we read is tailored to support a narrow agenda. Seeing our church leadership caught up in the polarized perspectives is disheartening. But more troubling is the loss of respect for the truth and authority of scripture and all that it has meant for centuries. This is a serious time of confrontation, but we know what the ultimate outcome will be.

    1. Carleton, Amen! Holding fast, tim

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  11. Thank you so much for upholding scripture. We practiced the song Order My Steps tonight at choir practice. These words express what the church is to be.
    Order my steps in Your word dear Lord
    Lead me, guide me everyday
    Send Your anointing, Father I pray;
    Order my steps in Your word
    Please, order my steps in Your word

    Humbly, I ask Thee teach me Your will
    While You are working, help me be still
    ‘Cos Satan is busy, God is real;
    Order my steps in Your word
    Please, order my steps in Your word

    1. Amen, Ginger! Thanks, tim

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  12. Tim, thank you for sharing all of this information with us. My prayers have been, and will continue to be, that Creator’s Word will take precedence over man’s decisions of what is right and wrong for our churches. If we adopt the world view on critical issues like these, what makes us different than anyone else. What reason would a non-Christian have to become a Christ follower if we think, act and speak like the rest of the world? Sadly, none. God teaches us to love all people, no matter what their life choices, and minister to all to bring them to Christ. We all sin and He is faithful to forgive us when we come to Him asking forgiveness, but the Bible doesn’t have “negotiables” about church leaders. It also saddens me that people of faith are using methods that are misleading to get what they want–at any cost. Isn’t that what we pray not to be? My heart has been heavy since first learning of these possibly changes in our doctrine. Keep speaking out Tim. There are a lot of folks praying about all this.

  13. Amen bible first god’s word is the only source I pray it is voted down or I have to leave this denomination as I cannot worship in a denomination that doesn’t stand on the word of God this is why we are seeing nondenominational churches growing because of this demonic teaching coming in our churches we are to be transformed turning away from sin sharing the light of Christ and the freedom that only comes though the love of God. Thank you for standing firm.

    1. Norma, God loves all and holiness of living and grace are equally important! Stand firm! tim

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  14. Thank you for standing ON the WORD, and FOR the WORD of God.
    It would appear that some or even many of our spiritual leaders have become the wolves in sheep’s clothing, instead of being our shepherds. The purpose of the Church is to worship and glorify God, and share the Good News of Jesus love and sacrifice for us all, on the cross. Our spiritual shepherds are getting side-tracked into issues that do not glorify God or share what is clearly stated in His Word as sin. When what God says is sin, is now stated as acceptable and should be welcomed in the church, we are treading on dangerous ground. And I include any and all sin in that statement.
    We (and I include myself) need to go before God and examine ourselves in light of His Word, repent, and then seek to live lives of obedience is accordance with Holy Scripture. THEN God can bless us and bless this nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows us the way.

    1. Amen, Millie! I need Jesus. We all need Jesus. It can’t be any plainer. Thanks, tim

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  15. Tim, we both know that we are not in agreement on the subjects of gay clergy and same-sex marriage.
    HOWEVER, we are both old enough and have been around the church long enough to know that on the Council of Bishops, there is absolute unanimity on the affirmation that “Jesus is Lord.” Beyond that, though, unanimity begins to disintegrate!

  16. You may believe your views are theologically based, but at the end of the day they cause harm and spread hate. The need to justify your hate and fear through Jesus and the church is astoundingly un-Christ-like.

    No need to respond as I will not return to this site. Thank you.

  17. To me the issue is wether you support the One Church Plan or not. Difficulties with the process should not be formost in your support or rejection of the plan. We have moved from slavery, women’s rights, African-American, and now to gender issues. Don’t hide gender issues behind other church procedures. When African American children were trying to go to all white schools, many people were trying to block the issue by claiming “states rights” was the issue. All people are loved by God and all should have full memembership in the UMC with full rights including marriage and ministry.

    1. Bonnie, I respect your sentiment but disagree. Peace, tim

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  18. How are we to pray for the church, our nation, and beyond? Do we pray that all will come to repentance and the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or, do we pray that God would drive out evil where it exists? Do we pray both? Do we pray for revival? Do we pray that God would raise up a new generation of men and women who will impact the culture for Christ? How are we to pray?

    1. We need to pray that Satan does not win this battle. He is trying to take the Church down. That’s why he’s brought this up in our church. We need to stand firm and put on the whole armor of God.

    2. All of the prayers what you mentioned, Grayson, and fervently! tim

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  19. Many views, many differing thoughts, and many making their minds up. Each Conference has delegates that voted in 2016, and to my knowledge only one conference had another election for the 2019 General Conference, even though all conferences were allowed to do so. It was never brought up in ministers meetings, at least until the deadline to hold new elections passed. If you have the same people attending the 2019 General Conference that attended to 2016 one, then I believe the One Church Plan will go down in defeat like all the other attempts to change the Denominations BOD.. I have been in many churches all across the US, and even though we may not admit it, there are very few churches that do not have alternative sexual individuals that are members and participating in the churches mission. The only thing I see is the issue is within the clergy itself. .

    1. Good points, Al, and I have always had persons in my churches and we get along fine. We all need Jesus! tim

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  20. While I would agree with the necessity of the church following scriptural teaching, I do think the “traditional church” has some hard work to do with the LBGTQ folks when this is all over. This entire debate seems to assume all gays are in relationships that the Bible condemns; in fact, a minority are strongly traditional, celibate Christians that need the support of the church, because the choices they have made can be difficult ones to uphold long term. Many of these celibate folks are beginning to self-identify as LBGTQ (and it is a growing number as time passes). At this point in time, the denominational arguments seem to center around ministering to those who have abandoned Biblical morality but want to remain (and lead) in the church. The traditional wing really need to recognize the opportunity to minister to this Christian minority of the gay community, who I believe are a gift and a model to the church.

    1. Ed, I agree 100% and it is what I do! Amen, amen, amen and thanks for sharing! tim

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    2. I don’t have a problem with them coming to the church because once they are witnessed to and become saved, they will no longer choose to be gay. The same thing with pedophiles or thieves, etc. Once they are truly saved, they will no longer want to sin. But having same sex marriages and gay clergy? No. You can’t be gay and be a minister, because they aren’t truly saved if they are still gay.

      1. Simple Gospel with a complex application. All have sinned and fall short of the Gospel. Homophobia is a sin, too.

        tim

      2. Yes we all have. But if we truly are saved we try to not do the bad things we did before we were saved. Thieves try not to steal any longer, murderers don’t murder any longer, pedophiles don’t hurt children anymore, gays aren’t gay anymore, etc. I don’t dislike gay people at all. I just want to share the gospel with them so that they will accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. I know it’s difficult to stop sinning. I disappoint Him daily. But I ask for His forgiveness and He helps me grow as a Christian. He’s still working on me.

      3. Me, too! t

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      4. I disagree, Shari. Our disagreement is one big issue that we must contend with soon WITHIN the traditional church. The LBGTQ community is partially right when they say that they have no choice; they are born with those desires, it is not chosen. It is extremely important that the traditional church understands that to be the truth. It is not a desire they can just “turn off” any more than it would be for a heterosexual. Yes, prayer and Scripture reading does come into play in how they respond to their situation, and that is where choice does come in. However, the choice for celibate, Bible-believing gays is hard–think of the loneliness involved when you cannot marry and your religious beliefs hold you back from the relationships that seem quite natural to you. That is hard to do, long term. Perhaps the most important point to be made is that therapy, Bible-based or otherwise, does not end homosexuality–people with this desire will live with it the rest of their lives, regardless of their desire to abandon sin. Those folks who deal with this issue, a life-long thorn in the flesh, should be welcomed and supported by our local congregations for they have sacrificed more than most of us in their Christian walk.

  21. Tim, I am in love with you!! The OCP, in my opinion, will only create anarchy, not intended unity. The only way to end this is for the GC2019 is to adopt the Traditionalist plan as outlined by Rev Tom Lambrecht that lets the progressives form their own churches. We must be biblically literate to fight this PC wave! Luckily the rest of the world prefers the traditional way the UMC has operated. Wish there was a way to let our brothers and sisters in Africa know that not everybody in the US has lost their minds!

    1. Amen, Terri! I think we’ll be doing okay, and keep the conversation going with grace, civility, and the TRUTH! tim

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  22. I’m sorry, Ed, but I disagree with you. I have known of too many gay people who were saved who were no longer gay after they found Christ. We don’t say to murderers that it’s ok to keep murdering people once they’ve been saved. We don’t tell pedophiles that they can keep hurting children once they are saved. We don’t tell thieves they can keep stealing after they’re saved. Why should we with homosexuals? God says it’s an abomination.

  23. “So we have bishops who are disregarding the promises made in the Council to stay out of the fray of support or non-support. It seems that the only bishops holding to their promises are the conservative ones”
    Since the COB voted to endorse the OCP then I am reluctant to criticize those who advocate for what they endorsed. However, the promise to stay out of the fray becomes a promise not to oppose the COB endorsement. This is a case where silence implies consent when ther is an obligation to speak. Those bishops who believe this course to be in error have an obligation to speak since the endorsement is on behalf of the entire COB.
    Dissenting bishops may keep their silence or their integrity but not both.

    1. Wait and you’ll see, Keith. tim

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  24. Shari– Have these ex-gays that you know said they have no more same sex attraction at all? I don’t believe that they can honestly say that. What I think they could honestly say is that they have abandoned their gay lifestyle, which is a totally different thing. At any rate, our discussion illustrates that even within the traditional, Bible-based community there is much to sort through on this issue–and we, as a church, do need to sort it out, even though it may be an unfamiliar, even bizarre, topic for most of us. If and when the church divides, I do not want the traditional branch of the UMC to have its head in the sand on this issue; we cannot lump them in with murderers or thieves and maintain any sense of integrity with the world at large. We may not be willing to give up Biblical morality, but we do have to sincerely strive to understand, as a church, their situation. I do not believe that is happening.

  25. Thank God and thank you… The over all affect this is having on our domination is truly being felt at the local church level. Trying to hold our local churches together has become an incredibly difficult task. I have to wonder if as I pray they do, that GC in 2019 will hold to biblical truth, will it really be over? The tactic to “wear down” those with a traditional biblical view, i fear is working. I pray the silent majority will also speak up and speak out. Born, baptized and committed to the scripture first and then the UMC, my support does not fail…God lead and guide us forward!

    1. Amen, Greg! Lord, hear our prayers. Amen.

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  26. Thank you Dr Tim for your wisdom and leadership. I’m so thankful for you and your courage. I appreciate your balanced responses given in Christian love. I pray the traditional, Biblical view is upheld.

    1. Amen and thanks, Val! God bless you and Bob! tim

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  27. Thanks for your thoughts and your stance Tim. Shari W. stated things pretty well….especially in response to those that suggest that homosexuality is NOT a factor of decision-making by those that practice it. The truth is probably more related to a continuum line….with extreme examples of those with very little choice because of inherited traits, to those in the middle that may “walk either side of the street”, and then those that extremely reject the entire notion. If we are to believe in the view that they “have no choice”, then are we to believe the same thing about pedophiles……and those that even devolve to bestiality? Yes…that is a slippery slope. Besides….I thought Wesley felt that we would grow through “justification” and onward towards “sanctification”. The progressive side of this wishes for us to “sanctify” these practices. Clearly that is NOT Biblical. I have used the example of alcohol use within a congregation to illustrate: There are those within most congregations that tolerate and enjoy “imbibing” and some that do not judge either way, while still others are “tea-totalers” and want NOTHING to do with it. So…..do we have an adult beverage table at the next church covered dish supper…..for those that enjoy it? This would seem to accept and “sanctify ” the practice. NO! We, as a church, DO NOT sanctify and promote the practice. We also would accept Leaders that have repented and reformed, but would NOT accept a leader that promotes and displays this sort of behavior. It is not the BEST illustration maybe, but it has helped me explain my view about this in the past. At any rate…..thank you for standing with those of us that are more “Traditionalists” and think that the current language in the” Book of Discipline” is adequate. From what I read in that text, we are NOT excluding anyone from the pews, but we do expect for those that are “saved” to be transformed….Thanks…and God Bless….we are many in prayer and Hope out here….

    1. Tom, Great illustration! The analogy works for our beliefs and connectionalism. We must not allow the OCP to pass but must continue to offer love with discipline/sanctifying grace to all. Thanks so much, tim

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  28. It is imperative that we think and act Biblically, holding God’s Word as our sole authority for life and practice. It does not matter what some people want as an acceptable practice. What does God’s Word say and teach….for it is the HOLY Word of God.

  29. I read your article because my husband’s cousin, who is a delegate, posted it on FB. I was raised Disciples of Christ (who have moved so very far left) and became Methodist 28 years ago. We moved to a small SC town in 2017 and joined a church, which we left after 3 months. The minister was great but the most outspoken people constantly promoted the LBGTQ agenda. I was told that the phrase ‘the way to the Father is through me’, was my interpretation and I couldn’t possibly believe the words in the Bible where “actually” God’s words, and that the Old Testament is not the God they can believe in. This church is struggling financially because those that don’t believe this are the soft spoken ones and they are not giving anymore. We went to a local CBF Baptist and so far the membership believes as we do. So, even churches still within the “mainstream” of Methodist are following their own agendas and I feel a split is probably imminent and that if it is not voted in some people will never let it go.

    1. Dear Used-to- Be, Come on back! There are more Traditionalists than otherwise. Saved but singed, tim

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    1. Bill, I thank God for you! It’s been quite the journey, hasn’t it! tim

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  30. I would like Dr Tim to clarify in “layman’s terms just exactly the point of this LONG article and things that went on at the UMC conference as I may have nothing to say if he clarifies but then again, if he is saying half of what I think he is, would lie to reply. Not all Christians are perfect nor do many claim to be-especially parents who raised children in the 80’s and 90’s.we were consumed by computers, cell phones ,Video games, many children being raised by a single parent and a most difficult task I might add. My children loved Salkahatchie ,would not have missed it. and often went twice! Am I perfect, are they?? Certainly not but when you have your ex spouse in family court 25 times, you get tired of leaving a wardrobe over at Heckle Blvd. Any else who cares to put I their 2 cents, please feel free to do so . I am not perfect, just forgiven by the grace of God. And had my mama kept herself out o my life and my 3 children, I think they would have had a better chance at good grades, staying off the computer and cell until 4 and 5 I the AM when told her absolutely not as the 2 she signed for already were failing in high school. But Granny knows best and still does!! Thanks for any input!

    1. Nuff said. No one is perfect and all need Jesus. t

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  31. Yawn. People in the station, biblically arrogant,debating long after the train of God’s forward movement in history has left.

  32. Thanks for the article, Tim. Several things are disturbing to me in the account of the meeting and in the comments above. There was one clear lie by one commenter, equating traditional Biblical belief to “hate and fear.” This is a devlish falsehood that is widely accepted in the LGBTQ community and serves as a spiritual chain to keep lost souls captive. I wonder how many of the progressive clergy have bought into this lie, to some degree? The urgency with which they press their case, by any means necessary, seems to indicate a belief that they are fighting “hate” rather than that they see that they are trying to overturn God’s authority. I believe the church should welcome LGBTQ persons with love, and with the teaching that God’s Word gives all of us the guidelines on how to live a life pleasing to Him and, not coincidentally, conducive to the greatest happiness possible in this world. Will we all fall short from time to time? You bet, in inclination if not in practice! Is homosexuality any more or less a sin than heterosexual adultery? I don’t think so, sin is sin. The mission of the church should be to bring sinners to justification by forgiveness through Christ Jesus, not to absolve them by justifying their sin. At the same time, the whole preoccupation on sexuality is a sort of spiritual pitfall, dragging the work of the church into the realm of fleshly things. As I recall the Gospels, when Jesus was on earth He forgave sexual sins without condemnation, but He never said “Go, and enjoy whichever love life you choose.” Jesus was much more harsh to self-righteous religious leaders who insisted on having things their own way, rather than bringing God’s love to everyone. Shouldn’t our church leaders try more to emulate our Lord in these matters? Couldn’t that path be a better approach than the one the church’s leadership is following?

      1. Thanks, t

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    1. Tim, Good observations. Don’t worry. The plan they propose has lost every time it has come up. Just has to be exposed over and over again. We believe in love, grace and community are available for all, innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents. t

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  33. Dear Tim, thanks for your words here and your faithful stance. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been dealing with this for all of our ministries, ever since we both graduated from Gordon-Conwell back in the 70’s. Like yourself, I’ve served as a delegate numerous times and just plain weary of the struggle. I suspect that there is no real solution short of Methodist mitosis but I would hope that any division can be done in a way that allows each side to bless the other. The One Church Plan is not simply disingenuously named, but it is dangerously crafted. Perhaps we can pull some others together prior to St. Louis to think better about how to respond to what is going to be a full court press from the progressive side.

    Thankful to call you my brother in Christ and partner in the gospel,
    Chappell Temple

    1. Chap, We have been at it a long time, and I’m ready to be done. Not done with the UMC or with ministry to all God’s children, but religious terrorism has to be resisted. Would love to get together – shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves! tim

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  34. Thank you for your thoughts, Tim. I used to say that I did not want the UMC to divide because I did not want to have to choose between a church which is perceived as not caring about the bible and one that is perceived as not caring about people. In Portland, however, I found that many people were loudly condemning me for being hateful simply because I believe the current stand of the UMC on sexuality is faithful to the bible. I could see that the church is already bitterly divided. The “One Church Plan” will not make us one church. We need to be faithful to the bible and to love people. Encouraging people to disregard the bible would not be the loving thing to do.
    We need to uphold our current standards and provide a gracious way for those who cannot do so to go another direction.

    1. Mark, I agree wholeheartedly! Amen. tim

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  35. I feel that if these gay people want accepted in a church, they can start their own church. Don’t force the members of the Methodist church to accept their sin. Christian’s need to speak up and uphold God’s Word.

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