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A Response to Steve West’s article, ‘Why I’m not leaving the United Methodist Church’

On January 25th, a large gathering of United Methodist lay-people and clergy took place in the Birmingham area at Clearbranch United Methodist.  The theme of the day was, Why the Best Days of Methodism are Ahead of Us!  The purpose of the gathering was to inspire hope for the future of a new Methodist movement.  The day featured guest speaker, Chris Ritter, and delegation members from multiple Annual Conferences from around the southeast.  You can watch the video of the gathering at this link.  Here is the United Methodist News Service article on the gathering:  Traditionalists’ Event Draws Big CrowdWhile the gathering did involve many who are in leadership in the Wesleyan Covenant Association, the gathering at Clearbranch was not a WCA event.  In addition, the 60 pastors Steve refers to in his article are not all a part of the WCA.  The gathering at Clearbranch was made up of traditionally orthodox lay-people and clergy, which transcends the constituency of the WCA.

While the event drew many pastors together, the critical masses of attendees were lay-persons from numerous United Methodist Churches.  Following the event, some pastors posted their impressions of the gathering.  Apparently, when approximately 1,000 United Methodists gather to consider the next steps, in light of the possible passage of the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation, the movement will not be without its critics.  Therefore, this article is provided to correct misinformation being propagated.

Rev. Steve West wrote a recent article.  Steve is the pastor of Arab First United Methodist Church in Arab, Alabama.  Steve’s article was published by Al.com at Steve’s request and also by United Methodist News Service, along with it being re-posted by several blog sites around the country.  You can read his article here.  Steve is a colleague in ministry, and we have had good interactions with him over the years.

While we love and appreciate Steve as a colleague, there are some things shared in his article that are misleading.  We simply want to give greater clarity to many of the things he stated or implied:

 

Here are 9 Points of Clarification we wish to Share in Response to Steve West’s Article:

 

  1. The Statement regarding the current human sexuality debate in the United Methodist Church.

Steve states in his article, “The debate is incorrectly framed as being about Biblical authority when it is really about culture wars.”

For the author to declare the debate in the United Methodist Church, “is really about culture wars” reflects a deep misrepresentation of the truth.  While all of us are aware of the tensions in our culture regarding numerous issues, our debate and division in the United Methodist Church is not rooted in culture but in theology (And a failure of governance, which will be addressed later).  A good working definition of theology is simply this:  What we believe as the Church and why; or, as Webster put it, “the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.”

United Methodist theologian after theologian after theologian have all declared a clear, biblically rooted understanding of human sexuality, which includes admonitions to not redefine the covenant of Christian marriage.  Thus, our debate is, in fact, rooted in theology and biblical authority, not culture.

There is no biblical text which supports the redefining of marriage as being between two men or two women.   A revisionist perspective on human sexuality is a value of western culture, and not reflected in the Scriptures, 2,000 years of Christian tradition, the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or through the majority of Christians around the world.  We would submit that we are not the ones taking our cue from the culture, but those who wish to enable or support changing the definition of Christian marriage in the church are.

 

  1. The Statement made regarding potentially joining the new Methodist denomination:

“I feel it would disregard the vows I made at ordination. I promised I would be faithful to the UMC and uphold its discipline. I have done so even if others haven’t…I feel leaving the UMC would be hypocritical…”

We understand the author is speaking for himself, but we must remember the author is writing this piece in the context of “a response to the Clearbranch meeting,” as described by Greg Garrison of Al.com.  The implied inferences need to be addressed.

The crisis in the United Methodist Church is not just theological, but constitutional.  Our present crisis is rooted in the failure of Bishops and leaders who have not upheld the vows they made at their ordination.  This has led to chaos in the governance of the United Methodist Church.  If there had been no crises of governance, we would not be where we are today.

In the words of United Methodist theologian, Dr. David Watson, who writes regarding Steve’s article via Twitter, “Like so many commentaries on the United Methodist Church, the article misrepresents the reason for division. It is not disagreement. It is that we have abandoned our mechanisms for resolving disagreement. Our governance has failed, and it is no longer reparable.” 

As clergy, we all took vows to uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline.  If the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation passes at General Conference 2020, the denominational iteration known as the United Methodist Church will vote to redefine marriage and officially ordain same-sex partnered clergy.  Therefore, for Christians whose convictions will not allow us to redefine marriage, it would be hypocritical for clergy to take a vow to serve in a denomination that redefines marriage when our conscience cannot support it.  Where you feel, “leaving the UMC would be hypocritical,” we feel that if we stayed with the present iteration of the UMC, that we would be hypocritical.  We cannot take a vow to uphold an ecclesiology that endorses patterns that we believe are in direct conflict with God’s will for humanity, as expressed through Scripture.  You are okay being in a denomination that does choose to do so, and that is why you can stay and not be a hypocrite.  We feel this point needed to be expressed with a greater degree of clarity for persons who have read your article.

 

  1. The Statements:“I am centrist” and “I am traditional and orthodox.”

The author stakes out the claim that he is a theological “centrist,” and then later in the article, stakes out the claim that theologically he is “traditionally orthodox.”

It is worth noting that centrist and progressives, at times, work with multiple sets of definitions of terms. We need to clarify our definitions, lest we confuse lay-persons or even clergy in the UMC.  We would like to go on record with the set of definitions we are utilizing.

  • Theological Progressive: “Progressive Christianityis a ‘post-liberal movement’ within Christianity ‘that seeks to reform the faith via the insights of post-modernism and a reclaiming of the truth beyond the verifiable historicity and factuality of the passages in the Bible by affirming the truths within the stories that may not have actually happened.’ Progressive Christianity represents a post-modern theological approach and is not necessarily synonymous with progressive politics.  It developed out of the Liberal Christianity of the modern era, which was rooted in enlightenment thinking” (Source:  Wikipedia).

 

  • Theological Centrist: A person who claims the classic creeds of Christianity, but is willing to be a part of a denomination that redefines Christian marriage.  They may or may not be theological universalists or inclusivists, which underpins a lack of emphasis on mobilizing the church to fulfill the Great Commission.  You can read one United Methodist theologian’s concerns regarding Pastors who become or are, theological centrist here.

 

 

  • Theologically Traditionally Orthodox: a person who holds to the classic definitions of Christianity, the exclusive claims of Christ regarding salvation, as well as Christian marriage being defined as being between one man and one woman.

 

  1. The use of these words or phrases: The use of incendiary language through words or phrases like:  “the Schism being planned,” “fundamentalist,” “southern secessionism,” and “This has evolved past social issues to schism.”

We would like to ask you, as well as others, to dial down the use of incendiary language.

  • The gathering at Clearbranch was not schismatic. The United Methodist Church, which you expressed you would be faithful to through your vows, has officially engaged in the process of placing legislation before the 2020 General Conference for the creation of multiple expressions of Methodism.  The Protocol for Separation has been worked on by Bishops and leaders from a wide variety of constituencies within United Methodism.  In other words, consideration of a new Methodist movement is properly before the church according to her polity, which we all vowed to uphold.  We are working within that framework.  When using phrases like “the Schism being planned,”it is misleading and just plain wrong. The gathering of Clearbranch was rooted in seeking to love and shepherd people well as we navigate the change that is potentially before us as a people called Methodists.  It was rooted in caring for people in light of change on the horizon.

 

It was Pastor Chris Ritter who recently appealed to all of us to, Think Methodist mitosis rather than scandalous schism. Mitosis is cell division that expands life, increases health. Wise division with multiplication in mind is essential gospel practice. Angry ripping (the literal meaning of schism) drains all contestants.”

There is no “schism being planned.”  There is; however, a formal plan coming before GC 2020 that may be designed to birth new expressions of Methodism.

 

  • We are not fundamentalists. We request that centrist and progressives stop labeling everyone who disagrees with their vision of the church as fundamentalists. Please take the time to read this link.

 

  • The use of the term “southern secessionism.” We are a global church. Consider the voices of our sisters and brothers in Africa.  Consider United Methodist leaders serving in Colorado or Ohio or New Jersey who express that they cannot live in a church held captive by constitutional chaos and are determined to redefine Christian marriage. We believe the use of the phrase “southern secessionism” is a poor attempt to manipulate by playing off populist stereotypes.  The phrase carries negative connotations from a dark period in U.S. history.  Did you mean to impugn the character of approximately one thousand of your United Methodist sisters and brothers who gathered at Clearbranch in this way?  Is this how you feel toward Catholics, and the overwhelming majority of Christians around the world whose convictions concerning the definition of marriage remain rooted in the biblical tradition?

 

You spoke in your article on the importance of grace being expressed toward all people.  Are you expressing grace and love toward all people when you call your sisters and brothers in Christ, “schismatic, fundamentalist and southern secessionist”?  Do these words reflect what you profess when you say, “Our divided culture needs a witness to love that transcends our differences, not giving in to the prevalent ‘us vs. them’ and ‘either/or’ mentality”? 

Our denomination’s legislation related to all of this is titled, Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation.  Let’s dial down the incendiary language and remember to manifest grace toward one another through this process.

 

  1. The Statement: Wesley said that separating “from a body of living Christians with whom we were before united is a grievous breach of the law of love,” and hence it “is only when our love grows cold that we can consider separation.”

You are quoting John Wesley’s sermon, “On Schism.”  You quote Wesley accurately where he supports your intended point, but you failed to quote Wesley from the same sermon when Wesley does not support the point you were attempting to make.

John Wesley goes on to say in the same sermon,

“Yet if I was not permitted to remain therein without omitting what God requires me to do, it would then become meet and right, and my bounden duty, to separate from it without delay. To be more particular: I know God has committed to me a dispensation of the gospel; yea, and my own salvation depends upon preaching it: “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” If then I could not remain in the Church without omitting this, without desisting from preaching the gospel I should be under a necessity of separating from it, or losing my own soul. In like manner, if I could not continue united to any smaller society, Church, or body of Christians, without committing sin, without lying and hypocrisy, without preaching to other’s doctrines which I did not myself believe, I should be under an absolute necessity of separating from that society.”

Through the work of the protocol, the post-separation UMC plans to make same-sex weddings a rite within her ecclesiology.  We believe that serving in a denomination that chooses to change the definition of marriage from one man and one woman to include two men or two women, is a grievous sin that violates Scripture.  Because of our conviction, it becomes implausible to preach “Repent and believe the gospel” while at the same time taking ordination vows to uphold an ecclesiology that is in direct conflict with the call of repentance that is necessary for faithful proclamation of the gospel.  According to the sermon you quoted, Wesley did warn against schism, but he went on in that same sermon and stated there are times when it is right to separate.

 

  1. The Statement: “I believe in grace. Do our churches rebuke people who are divorced and remarried, not allowing them to serve in ministry? I’m not saying we should hold remarried people in judgment, not at all. I’m saying that if we offer grace in one situation addressed in scripture and not in another, it’s clearly not about Biblical authority but about culture wars. I can’t be a part of a new movement that insists LGBTQ people can’t be Christians. I know too many that are.”

The reasoning here is pure conjecture.

Who is considering withholding grace toward anyone?  Who is considering withholding grace toward divorced people, LGBTQ people, or remarried people?  We are certainly not.  All people are, and will continue to be, welcomed into the doors of our churches.

We, too, believe in grace.  Grace that forgives.  Grace that redeems.  Grace that empowers the living of a transformed life through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We offer to all people the invitation, Repent and believe the gospel” because God’s grace is open to all people.

  1. The Statement: “Jesus didn’t even mention the issues that divide us,”

Again, this is misleading.  Jesus did speak to the issue of marriage, and He did so more than once.  Jesus could have redefined what marriage is in a Roman culture that involved all types of sexual debauchery; but instead of redefining it, He chose to reinforce its definition:

JESUS:  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”                                                                    Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

Christian marriage, and the deeper reality it signifies, has been defined by God through Scripture, by the red letters of Jesus Christ, and by the apostles.  As already noted, United Methodist theologians have written thought- provoking articles on the biblical rooted view of human sexuality.

Concerning our governance and the failure of Bishops and leaders in keeping their ordination vows, Jesus spoke clearly in the Sermon on the Mount about keeping one’s vows (See Matthew 5:33-37).

To suggest that “Jesus didn’t even mention the issues that divide us” is simply misleading.

 

  1. The Statement: “but there’s something else that he most definitely did talk about – our unity, for that’s what Jesus prayed for in John 17.”

We choose to be in unity with the great mass of Christians all over the world who interpret Scripture to be authoritative and agree on traditional definitions of sexual morality and Christian marriage.

Please take the time to read this link:  When Unity at All Cost is too Costly.

 

  1. The Statement: “there are so many positive things to be lost by leaving. Together we have created the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Upper Room, the Walk to Emmaus, the Academy for Spiritual Formation, Africa University, and all sorts of regional treasures like Sumatanga and the Children’s Home.”

If one takes the time to watch the video of the gathering at Clearbranch, we have gone on record in the panel discussion that a new Methodist movement would continue to support United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR); as well as United Methodist Children’s Homes.  We are Methodists who remain passionate for involvement in Walk to Emmaus, and the Academy for Spiritual Formation and support mission to our African sisters and brothers.  To infer that a new Methodist movement would forsake these things reflects false assumptions and misinformation.

 

Before we close, we would like to call on centrist and progressive pastors to stop misrepresenting the traditionally orthodox within their own denomination and within their own congregations. Your misrepresentations are disingenuous at best.  United Methodist lay-people are educated and smart, and will ultimately discern when less than accurate and incendiary statements are being made.  For the record, in a potential new Methodist movement:

 

  • We are committed to women being ordained in ministry. This is not unclear, and it is not unknown.  Read this link.  Read this link.  And read this link.   Please refrain from continuing a narrative that does not reflect this fact.

 

  • We are committed to dynamic life-transforming ministry with every ethnic group.

 

  • We are committed to the continuation of the office of Bishops, the authority of Bishops, and the continuation of being a connectional church that fosters accountability. Please refrain from continuing a narrative that does not reflect this fact.

 

  • We are committed to revising our apportionment formula to advance greater expressions of mission. Our connectional giving, and the outdated structure some of it supports, can be better utilized for greater expressions of God’s mission outside the walls of the church both locally and globally.

 

  • We are committed to lay pastors, their empowerment, and ways to bolster their voice and involvement in the life of the church on all levels.

 

We are committed to a new day for a people called Methodists!  A new day that rekindles the best of our originating impulses by planting new churches in the United States and around the world.  A new day of equipping local bodies with the seeds of church revitalization!  A new day of seeing life-giving expressions of the captive being set free and the binding up of brokenness that’s pervasive all around us.

We believe the best days of Methodism are ahead of us!

Sincerely,

Tim Alexander
Jeff Armbrester
Steve Baccus
Tim Barnes
Jake Barrett
Kenny Baskins
Alan Beasley
Keith Beatty
Harvey Beck
Bart Bowlin
Liz Bowlin
Charlie Brown
Glenn Conner
Raul Dominguez-Flores
Bridget Dowdy
Dee Dowdy
Eddie Gooch
Tommy Gray
Rudy Guess
Barry Hallman
Randall Ham
Todd Henderson
Gail Hiett
John Hill
Lyle Holland
Jody Hooven
Ron Howard
Sam Huffstutler
Nicky James
John Kearns
Tiwirai Kufarimai
Mark Lacey
Robert Lancaster
Paul Lawler
Bo Lloyd
Mark Mayo
Vicki Mann
Chris Martin
Michael Miller
Chris Montgomery
Deborah Moon
Todd Owen
Mark Parris
Scott Railey
John Ryberg
Ricky Smith
Vaughn Stafford
John Tanner
Rusty Tate
Blue Vardaman
John Verciglio
Ben Vernon
Ray Weaver
Michael Wilder
Trav Wilson
Lee Witheringhton

COMMENTS

  • Billy H. Weems 21-02-2020

    Can you add my name to that list? Although I have never joined WCA, I stand with you. I was at Clearbranch. I was blessed. It was Spiritual. It was eye opening. I left fired up and refreshed in my spirit. I am a Traditionalist and an unabashed, unashamed evangelical. God bless.
    B. Weems

  • Ken Taylor 22-02-2020

    I am so weary of the statement that Jesus didn’t mention same sex relationships. As you so well explained, he went even higher in defining marriage. However, unless I have misread the Gospels, the only times Jesus spoke of the O. T. he was correcting their theology. “You have heard it said… but I say to you… ‘ Further, Jesus also didn’t mention beastiality. Are they inferring that this makes it right. I am weary. God, in your mercy…

  • Anne Deegan 22-02-2020

    This is a great article! Thank you so much for providing us with the opportunity to remain Methodists and continue to stay true to God’s Word.

    Anne Deegan

  • Rev. Janet Krantz 22-02-2020

    This was an excellent response – written with integrity and grace. These points articulate my perspective very well – thank you, I can only hope that I will exercise sensitivity and boldness like this when tasked with communicating during these times.

  • Kathleen Neely 22-02-2020

    A very thoughful essay. What I cannot understand is why the group wanting to CHANGE our long held beliefs is called the “main church” and traditionalists are labeled the “new church”. I believe in an attitude of kindness toward others with whom we disagree, but those who want to “change” our beliefs should be the “new church”. Nothing in the Bible or in human anatomy convinces me that God intended homosexuality to be his will. An example of my deepest grief with homosexuality is the situation of two men adopting a baby girl. To intentionally deprive a baby girl of her mother for the enjoyment of two men is incomprehensible to me. Men and women were made with many different characteristics, not just physical.

  • Becky Saddler 22-02-2020

    Thank you, thank you for clarifying so many terms and sayings being thrown around confusing many. Just for the record, I am grateful for the clarification of the term theologically ‘traditional orthodox.

  • John 22-02-2020

    There are many UMC theologians who believe that support for same-sex marriage is also theologically sound.

    And it is irrational to appeal to the sexual ethics of the majority of the Christian tradition when we already reject their theology on sexuality where it comes to women and divorce.

  • Jerry Hastings 22-02-2020

    I meant to go to the meeting. I was registered. Thank you for clarity and you can add my name to the list.

  • darlenebone66@gmail.com 22-02-2020

    Excellent article which covers outstanding questions I had. Thank you for this clarification.

  • Gary McRae 22-02-2020

    Please add my name to this list.

  • Jack Mundy 22-02-2020

    While I do not agree with every bit of it…Steve has provided well thought out points and is consistent throughout his paper. Unfortunately, much of the divide in the church is motivated by power…fueled by a few who have chosen not to follow their vows and want to beat themselves on the chest…saying I can do whatever I want…and the Discipline does not apply to me. If the leadership had any intercity at all it would just tell all of those who choose not to follow the rules to leave.

  • Randall Murphree 22-02-2020

    Thanks. for this insightful response to a leadership that is misrepresenting the voice of those who wish to see the UMC stay true to the Word of God.

  • Rev. Diane Snead 22-02-2020

    While none of us really know how the UMC question will turn out. I do not think of myself as a fundamentalists but more or less a classic, old school, Wesleyan Christian. It isn’t fun to sit around and hear all the gas exploding from those who seem to think they are not sinners; those whose aim is to destroy God’s church in the name of sin and satan.
    I am appalled at the number of pastors who defy the vows they took at their ordination. If you truly love the Lord you won’t turn your back on Him. Put away your bent to sinning and return to your 1st love.
    Confess your sin to God thru Christ and Repent for He will return as promised and will not be pleased with what He sees.

  • Kay L. Davis 23-02-2020

    Thank you for explaining our position on the “new Methodist Movement”. I have received Facebook messages repeating their stand on the new Principals of Methodist church. It really upsets me because what they are passing to millions of others is not true. I would like for them to express their version of God’s word under their name and not of our United Methodist Church. Our little Methodist Church has to close because the attendance was so small. I remember the days we had to put out more chairs but a movement like this can close a lot more churches but I am committed and I hope others are committed to fight back to keep our church intact and remain respected as we have always been. I will not let them take us down over their belief changes. May God watch over our church and give us good blessings of remaining together as one.

  • John Gudikunst 25-02-2020

    Your heartfelt response makes your case in plain language. It does not, however, address one key point: There is no Biblical basis for a church split .
    Scripture is filled with calls for unity, with calls for forbearance, with calls for bearing one anothers burdens. It does not allow for the rending of the body of Christ, even for the case you have made n plain language.
    Some of the proposed remedies retain the unity of the body while allowing the practice of the faith to bear witness to the grace of our Lord as the Spirit leads those members and their clergy. None of them that I have seen require anyone to act in a way that violates their beliefs.
    What disheartens many of us is the proclamation by some that others are “not good enough”, or are “too sinful” to serve along side their presumed purity. That is not only sad, but dangerous. Jesus also said that marriage after divorce was adulterous, and that greed was sinful enough to keep us out of the Kingdom. Will the call to purity of heart and practice be extended to all human sinfulness, or just this one? DId Jesus death and resurrection conquer the power of only some sin and death?
    I fear that this unbiblical schism represents not merely a rending of the body of Christ but a rending of His Grace.
    And more’s the pity.

  • Barbara Dale 25-02-2020

    Do you expect to have any LGBTQ members?

  • Ed Fickey 25-02-2020

    Thank you so much for all of this. I have posted it on my FB page with the statement that I had have felt the other side was not being represented properly, that those in control had not exercised their commitments or we wouldn’t be in this situation. I have said all along, there is plenty of room in the pew beside me, I just don’t agree with your standing at the lectern or defying your own commitments. When a group has all the choices before them – PC US, Episcopal, other options they can go to and be happy and make others happy, yet chooses instead to work 100% to divide and conquer instead, I don’t see a line of love in those intentions. When the Bible is referred to as a pretty good collection of “stories.” I cannot find what I am looking for in that church. I will probably have a great deal of feedback from posting this on my FB page. That is fine. I love everyone, and pray for their salvation. I know I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness and I hope the Church can be stronger through this. How can nearly 1,000 come together prayerfully at a GC asking for a sign, get one, then decide it wasn’t the one “they” wanted? God bless you for writing this.
    Ed

  • Donna T Seward 25-02-2020

    God bless you for responding to the previous article. I cringed at the untruths and misrepresentations as I read every word.

  • JoeR 25-02-2020

    Thank you Sir for the clear manner in which you addressed inaccuracies in an earlier posting. I have a hard time in understanding how the leadership of the Methodist Movement could choose inaction as an appropriate response when the Book of Discipline is clear on when action is required.
    Multiple times in the Bible (both Old and New Testament) the wording of “God hates” followed by a listing of sins makes me uncomfortable. The reason? My name was associated with many sins listed. I did not like these lists. However, my liking approval of them was not required. My obedience to what God clearly hates is a requirement.
    In this day and age we have made human sexuality the new golden calf. Things didn’t work out so well for the last group to worship a golden calf.
    The Methodist Movement has a choice – be influence by the culture (which is simply a term for “the World”) or follow The Lord. Given the Prince of the World is the enemy of The Lord, I will choose the Lord.

  • Bill ponder 25-02-2020

    I was told to retire or be black balled because I told the Bishop of Arkansas to take a stand on this issue in 2097.

  • Judy Sullivan 25-02-2020

    It is entirely possible that Steve’s letter and this response have caused me more sadness regarding what the UMC is facing than any of the angry discussions, comments, meetings or writings I have seen or heard to this point. My heart is breaking.

  • Richard Metheney 25-02-2020

    Truly God has spoken through His servant Paul Lawler in this article. This will upset some and they will call you a right-wing zealot, homophobic, a hater and deceiver, etc. These are the ones who are taking down the ship and its time to abandon this sinking ship and go in the direction given to us by the infallible Word of God. God will chart the new waters and is the captain of the ship we will be boarding. Thanks be to God!!!

  • joe miller 25-02-2020

    I only read point 1, which i disagree with. The bible does not preclude loving, gay relationships, and many bible scholars support that statement.

  • Robert Kittrell 25-02-2020

    God’s unconditional love accepts us as we are, demanding neither pre-conditions nor false piety. Our challenge as imperfect Christians and human beings: Integrating God’s magnificent expression of love into our lives/relationships, or reducing God into our own image.

  • TERRY FORD 25-02-2020

    …I AGREE WITH YOUUR ARTICLE RE: THE CURRENT UMC SITUATION CAUSING THE DIVISION IN THE CHURCH WAS/IS BECAUSE THE METHODIST HIERARCHY FAILED IN THEIR DUTIES TO ADHERE TO BIBLICAL SCRIPTURE AND ALLOWING SAME SEX MARRIAGES,…BUT I DISAGREE WITH YOU/TRADITIONALISTS ALLOWING FEMALE BISHOPS/PREACHERS,…1TIM2:11-14,…YOU CANNOT PICK-N-CHOOSE WHICH SCRIPTURE YOU WANT TO ABIDE BY,…ALSO, IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE WRONG GROUP(LGBTQ) IS LEAVING THE UMC AND ANY PERSON/GROUP/ORG THAT IS KNOWINGLY/WILLINGLY OPEN MINDED TO EDIT THE BIBLE TO SUIT THEIR SIN IS DOING THE DEVIL’S WORK AND ACCEPTING THE WORLD’S WAYS,…I AM NO BETTER THAN MY FELLOW MAN/WOMAN I JUST DO NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF THAT MINDSET,…BEFORE I GAVE MY LIFE TO THE LORD I DID ENOUGH SINNING TO BE JUDGED BY WITHOUT BEING ASSOCIATED WITH A GROUP(LGBTQ) THAT IS WANTING TO COMMIT AN ABOMINATION AGAINST GOD,.. I DID NOT COME FROM A CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING AND CAME TO THE UMC BY MARRIAGE,… I DID NOT READ THE BIBLE TILL THEN WHICH I KNOW IS A BLESSING, BUT HAVE REALIZED IT MIGHT BE A CURSE BECAUSE OF SO MANY HYPOCRITES WITHIN THE RELIGIOUS ARENA OF LIFE,…AND BECAUSE THE UMC CONDONES FEMALES TO HOLD HIGH POSITIONS IN THE UMC, MY MEMBERSHIP HAS CHANGED SEVERAL TIMES,…WITH ALL THAT SAID , I AM SERIOUSLY THINKING OF LEAVING THE UMC,…WILL I FIND ANOTHER CHURCH?…I THINK NOT,..TOO MANY HAVE APPROVED THE WORLD’S WAYS AND LIFE IS BUT A BREATH,…SO IN MY SUNSET YEARS IT WILL MOST LIKELY BE A ONE-ON-ONE SERMON/PRAYERS,…FOR THE BIBLE IS THE INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD-2TIM3:16/JOHN17:17 ; IF YOU NEGLET HIS WORD YOU BECOME A VICTIM OF DECEPTIONS/TEMPTATIONS…

  • Arthur Dan Gleckler 25-02-2020

    The tone of this statement is that of a judge and critic, despite the many protestations otherwise.

    1) There are numerous theologians who do not support exclusion of lgbt’s from ordination or of the expansion of marriage to include lgbt unions. That is never acknowledged. All educated clergy know this. Many laity do not. Clergy need to teach this,
    even if they disagree with it …. Many laity need this knowledge to deal with their families and friends.
    2) There are substantial denominations in our own time and culture who have prayerfully and at great and careful consultation come to accept lgbt ordination and union … That is never mentioned. All educated clergy know this. Many laity do not. Clergy need to educate laity about this. Laity need this information to deal with relationships in their families as well as within the church.
    3) Again and again, Rev. West is represented as disrespectful of traditionalists … but he is, from the first sentence, stating his own position far more than criticizing that of others. To him, to leave would be unfaithful. That does not judge, but confesses, as I understand., in the accepted biblical sense. “Here I stand; I can do no other,” is certainly a respected attitude within Christianity. That is not acknowledged in the statement, and that is not right or healing.
    4) The dramatic change in attitude towards divorce that has occurred within my lifetime is not recognized. In my childhood, my clear understanding was that divorce was not allowed for ordained people …
    5) Certainly the Biblical attitude towards marriage is fraught with issues troubling to disciples of Jesus. Multiple wives, staunch patriarchy, all sorts of power struggles, are described again and again … and that, too, is never acknowledged in the statement.
    6)In sum, the statement is not reconciling or conciliatory, but essentially a retort.

    I pray for more willingness to talk with rather than to the many United Methodists who differ from those writing the statement.
    In the same way, I pray for continued willingness to negotiate, to listen, to try again to remain together, for all of us. Let us recognize the pain that exclusion causes, even as we acknowledge the hope that rings throughout scripture and fellowship in our United Methodist institutions and relationships. Many admirable people are disobeying the Discipline out of prayerful deliberation. That needs to be acknowledged over and over. The Discipline had no statements about homosexuality until 1972! And at that 1972 moment, a conciliatory statement was added because of the starkness of the new “law” … We all know that, just as we know we split over slavery, and took generations to ordain women …The fact we are not yet parliamentarily agreeable does not mean we are not of the family of Christ. Parliamentary procedure is not the final word for Christians. We all know that … and to condemn over and over for breaking the law is not, fellow disciples, constructive.

  • Jeff Labala 25-02-2020

    Thanks sincerely for the clarification. I like to add this: Our prior commitment as Christians is to the God revealed in Christ Jesus, not to any denomination, especially so when such denomination is deviating from historic Christianity. Our commitment to the Global UMC makes sense only insofar as what it teaches is in accord with the teaching of Christ as mediated through Scriptures, in this case what marriage is. Thanks again.

  • Donald Bard 25-02-2020

    It becomes a problem when one group declares what others believe. Those who accept centuries of shared Christian teaching and support Methodist traditional doctrine are labeled as being outliers and destroying our unity, is grossly inaccurate. I told a pastor over 50 years ago that a time may come that I would be put out of the Methodist Church, but I will never willing walk. Who ever thought that supporting Methodist doctrine will be the reason for being forced out?

  • Tracy 25-02-2020

    Please send this response to annual conferences. Many, including my own in Kentucky have put his opinion on their website without any counter to refute his incorrect facts. Methodists members need to have both view points and not only what the administration wishes to share. Thank you.

  • Sid Vogel 25-02-2020

    thank you for standing for Jesus! “Pick up ‘our’ cross and follow Him!”

  • Drew Martin 25-02-2020

    An excellent and much needed rebuke!

  • Evy Hoyt 26-02-2020

    Thank you for this article. I agree with you. Sad we are being asked to leave because we hold to Weslyn values. Not those wanting change to form another denomination.

  • Shirley 26-02-2020

    I believe in the words of God as expressed in the Bible. I stand on them as the solid foundation on which to live. They are not to be added to or changed or eliminated. This all sounds like a bunch of political gobbledygook. It is focused on bringing in the $! It is not about Jesus! It is about the book of discipline that was made by humans. There is only One Book. We need to stand on it alone. The people need to be taught The Book. Do you not realize the $ that will be required for abandoning The Book? The United Methodist Church must Unite and stand alone on God’s Book! No other book! Are we Pharisees. They made their own rules!

  • Nancy 27-02-2020

    Thank you very much for this response to Steve West’s article. Your explanations of this website’s position and clarifications on some of his statements cleared up some confusion for me. If possible, I would like to ask someone associated with this website the following question: 1. The Protocol of Reconciliation… has not yet been brought before the GC (as I understand it) or passed. Why has this website and movement already been established? and 2. When/if the Protocol is passed, what will it mean for individual Methodist churches, i.e. my own? In other words, what if a majority in our congregation disagrees with the passing of the Protocol? Thank you again…

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