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The United Methodist Dilemma

The United Methodist Dilemma

Download a copy here –The United Methodist Dilemma

The United Methodist Dilemma

Following the February 2019 special general conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) there has been much angst concerning the passing of a resolution affirming the denomination’s stand against same-gender marriage and gay ordination. This has ignited a firestorm of controversy and questions among Methodist and observers. In response to questions I have received at Lakeview UMC, I will attempt to describe in some detail how this has come about, a summary of the history, and some personal thoughts about the controversy.

Why is the UMC in such a controversy over LGBTQ acceptance? How did we come to be in such disarray? What can be done? Should I stay in the UMC? These and many other questions are in people’s thoughts and have raised concerns. I will attempt, to the best of my ability, to provide a summary history (for a detailed history requires a book-length essay) as factually and un-biased as I can. I will describe the events leading up to the special general conference of 2019 and then, in a final section, I will offer some personal thoughts which will bear my bias. It is not possible to summarize the events leading to and the events of the conference in a Twitter message of 240 characters, so this will be a longer read. The electronic version will contain links to other documents to aid the reader in more background and detail than I will take time to cover but will help those wishing a more comprehensive understanding.

United Methodist History

It is helpful to begin by having some sense of the history and evolution of this rather unique movement we call Methodism. With roots in the Anglican Church and founder John Wesley, an Anglican priest, the movement began in the early 1700’s when John and his brother, Charles, along with George Whitfield, began a small group at Oxford that became derisively known as the “Holy Club.” Another moniker labeled them “Methodists” because of the methodical manner in which they approached reading the classics, the Bible, and holding each other accountable. While the initial names were meant to be insults, Methodist, eventually stuck. One early ditty poke fun at them:

By rule they eat, by rule they drink,
By rule do all things but think.
Accuse the priests of loose behavior.
To get more in the laymen’s favor.
Method alone must guide ’em all
When themselves “Methodists” they call.

The early “class meetings” as they were called, were accountability groups meant to supplement one’s regular church attendance and involvement. There have been recent attempts to revive the class meeting in many churches and particularly in the under ‘30’ age category.

While Wesley never intended to start a new denomination, the American revolution forced him to make a change. Francis Asbury, a key early leader in the US was instrumental in convincing Wesley that ordination was critical so people could enjoy Baptism and regular Holy Communion since there were simply not enough Anglican priests in the US at the time, so the Methodist Episcopal Church was born.

We have always had a strong focus on social and justice issues. From the beginning of the Holy Club, William Morgan another member of the club, encouraged John and Charles to go with him to visit and take food to the poor, prisoners, and to teach orphans. This bent toward social and justice issues has become one of the hallmarks of United Methodism and, interestingly, an inspiration for many Evangelical churches who have become much more socially proactive in recent years.

We have also struggled to handle some social challenges well. In 1787 free blacks such as, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones were preaching and teaching in the Methodist Episcopal Church but there was discrimination and they were forced to leave the pulpit and left St. Georges Methodist Episcopal. Rev. Richard Allen was instrumental in starting the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) a vibrant and important movement today.

In 1844, the Civil War caused a north/south split in the church with the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The church was finally reunited in 1939 but discrimination continued. Blacks were segregated into “central conferences” apart socially but not geographically from other conferences until 1956.

Meanwhile, women have long participated as leaders despite significant pushback from the male-dominated culture. In 1770, Mary Evans Thorne was appointed class leader. Despite great objection, in 1787, Sarah Mallet was appointed to preach, and the list goes on. Many are common names to us; Sojourner Truth, a freed black slave, Phoebe Palmer who started the holiness movement, Fanny Crosby gifted poet and hymn writer, and many others.

In addition to the 1844 split, the Methodist movement has split a number of times birthing other important movements such as; The Salvation Army, Nazarene Church, Wesleyan, and Free Methodist among others. We have a history of great works and a history of great error. On the following page is one version of chart depicting the life of the church and its divisions over time.

Flaming CrossWe became United Methodists in 1968 with the merger of the Methodist Episcopal and the United Brethren Church. The Cross and Flame logo has two flames representing the two churches united as one.

There are a number of good sources to read about the history of the Methodist movement and the related movements which have come out of Methodist roots. Richard Heitzenrater’s Wesley and the People Called Methodist is one good resource. There are very good summaries and reference information in the United Methodist Website; www.umc.org and I’ve listed a few relevant direct links in the bibliography. The UM website has some nice historical articles to see but you must browse around a bit and follow links to different pages allowing you to follow a particular topic.

FlowChart
Chart of Methodist and Wesleyan movements

Church Structure

This section is provided as a summary of the current structure in the world today. More detailed information is available at here.

There is no single individual or bishop who runs the organization. At the world-wide level, the “General Conference” is a body comprised of clergy and lay persons elected by local conferences to represent them. This is the only body that can make decisions affecting church law and doctrine. The conference meets every 4 years, called a ‘quadrennium’.

The “Council of Bishops” provides general ministry oversight and spiritual leadership to the entire church connection. It is the highest level of ‘connection’ within the church.

Judicial Council – the “supreme court” of the UMC. Comprised of nine members; clergy and lay elected by the general conference. The constitution of the UMC states that decisions by the council are final.

The church is described as “connectional” and this harkens back to John Wesley who envisioned a network of classes, societies, and annual conferences, all working together to carry out the mission of scriptural holiness across the world. As the church grew it was necessary to organize the local “annual conference” into groups. In the US there are five “jurisdictions” comprised of 8 – 15 annual conferences for a total of 54 conferences. The Jurisdictions are:

  • Western
  • North Central
  • North Eastern
  • South Central
  • Southeastern

Jurisdictions

Notes: Alaska is a missionary conference of the western jurisdiction.

Each jurisdiction holds a quadrennial conference ahead of the general conference.

Outside of the US conferences are clustered into “Central Conferences,” they are:

  • Africa Central Conference
    • Africa – 10 annual conferences, 11 countries
    • Congo – 14 annual conferences, 9 countries
    • West Africa – 6 annual conferences, 6 countries
  • Europe Central Conference
    • Central and Southern Europe – 7 annual conferences, 15 countries
    • Germany – 3 annual conferences, 1 country
    • Northern Europe and Eurasia – 10 annual conferences, 14 countries
  • Philippines Central Conference
    • 24 annual conferences, 1 country

Annual Conferences:

            US:                                         54

            Central Conferences:          74

                                    Total:           128

Outside the US there are also “Affiliated Autonomous” churches within the UM Movement. They attend but do not have voting privileges at general conference as a result of their “autonomous” status.

As of 2016 there are 6,951,278 members in the US and 5,663,340 outside the us for a total of 12,614,618 United Methodists in the world. The US is in decline while Africa and Eurasia, in particular, are growing offsetting the decline in the US. There are around 54,400 clergy persons world-wide and 44,122 churches.

Whew! That’s a lot of data. How does this relate to us at Lakeview and in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference? (DSWC) It’s a great question so let’s start with Lakeview. We are a local church (charge conference in UM lingo) with two full-time and one part-time appointed clergy. We are a part of the West District (there are four districts in the Desert SW Conf.) There are 118 churches in the DSWC and 12 fellowships (new church starts). In 2017 average worship attendance was 19,541 down 1600 from the previous year. Our attendance is down from the previous year, but our 2018 giving was up.

The local church then is the key to ministry aided by the district and annual conference and connected to the general conference and churches world-wide. In the local annual conference as in the general conference, delegates consist of all clergy and lay persons based upon the number of clergy in the local church. Currently, the church is allowed two delegates to annual conference for each of our clergy so we have six lay and three clergy votes at annual conf.

The annual conference elects delegates from its members to the jurisdictional and the general conferences. If all this sounds confusing, it is. In many respects it is modeled after the us government structure and has grown just about as inflexible and inoperable as the US political model.

History of the LGBTQ Dispute and General Conference 2019

My history with the church dates to 1975 when I was married and joined the UMC. The controversy over homosexuality dates to 1972 following the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the United Brethren. There were resolutions passed stating that “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶304.3 Book of Discipline 2016). It may be helpful to take a look at the current Book of Discipline (2016) and see how these rules interact.

Regarding church membership:

  • ¶ 4. Article IV. Inclusiveness of the Church: The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection.  
  • ¶ 214. Eligibility: All people may attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments and become members in any local church in the connection (¶ 4).

Regarding the ministry of the ordained:

  • ¶ 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.  
  • ¶ 341.6: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

Regarding United Methodist funds

  • ¶ 613: The [conference council on finance and administration] shall have authority and responsibility to …. ensure that no annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of The UMC “not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends” (¶ 161F).  
  • ¶ 806.9: [The General Council on Finance and Administration] shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of The United Methodist Church ‘not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends’ (¶ 161F)

So ¶4 of article IV is the inclusive paragraph welcoming all persons into the life of the church and to become members. ¶214 directs the church to allow all persons to participate in all aspects of the life of the church. The problem begins when we look at ¶304 and ¶341 in the section that deals with actions by clergy.

¶304.3 states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.[1] The next sentence is critical to this paragraph as it applies to “self-avowed practicing homosexual” persons seeking ordination or appointment to serve.

[1] Emphasis added

¶341.6 prohibits same-gender weddings in church property and bars clergy from conducting such marriages.

¶613 and 806 have been modified in recent years to disallow use of UMC funds for either promoting or rejecting/condemning lesbian and gay members and friends.

One can see from this very brief description there is reason for some confusion and contradiction, particularly if you happen to be LGBTQ, you might question how on one hand you are of sacred worth yet bared from serving as clergy or being married.

Further, passed at general conference are “social principles” which do not rise to the level of rules within our discipline but are intended to be guiding principles in our social action across the denomination. In many cases these are legitimate principles such as freedom from the injustice of slavery and unjust dictatorial political movements. Yet, there are places in the world where United Methodists live and worship and the practice of homosexuality is punishable by jail, or in some cases, by execution.

After 47 years, we have failed to arrive at a common understanding or compromise acceptable to all parties. There is much, much more involved in this, but for the interest of this discussion, we’ll stop here to see how this led to the special general conference of 2019.

A number of caucus groups have emerged over the years to advocate on one side or the other and most recently the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) and Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) are the two which seem to have taken the lead in their respective areas. WCA is a newcomer but has roots with Good News, Confessing Movement and others. Both groups were very active at General Conference 2016 and during that conference, the discussion over LGBTQ became so heated that at one point someone stood and offered a resolution asking the bishops to guide the church and out of that motion came call for a working group known as The Commission on a Way Forward. The 2016 General Conference then moved to plan a special general conference in 2019 to focus solely on this singular challenge. While the conference asked for a moratorium on LGBT marriages, appointments, and complaints many conferences and bishops ignored this request. The commission ended up recommending the One Church Plan (OCP) over two other primary plans discussed.

One would have created multiple branches of the church called the “Connectional Church Plan” with each branch holding certain values, contextualization, and justice. One would hold to traditional – existing values, but increase accountability, and the third provided for local decisions and flexibility while eliminating restrictive language from the Book of Discipline as noted above. The multi-branch model was never seriously considered due to the vast number of constitutional changes required. The commission ended up recommending the One Church Plan and forwarding that on to the 2019 General Conference. Note: Neither the 2016 request to the bishops nor the resulting decision were binding on the general conference. Bishops do not have a vote at conference and ONLY the general conference can speak or establish doctrine for the church.

The conflict and division over this matter has consumed much conference time at many annual conferences, created division and anger at general conference to the extent that we have become unable to focus on the mission and ministry of the global church. While many hoped the church would be able to come to a resolution in 2019 there was division before the conference began. LGBTQ advocates were not happy with the OCP because it did not go far enough and were calling for another plan, the “Simple Plan” which never gained traction at conference. Many LGBTQ advocates were not in favor of the OCP but stated they would vote for it and continue working toward their goals of full inclusion suggesting they would not be satisfied until they reach their perceived goal – the conflict would continue.

Traditionalists were concerned over the confusion that would result at the local church. Much as the Presbyterian church (PCUSA) and the Episcopal Church had done, there was fear it would create division within the church and confusion at the conference level. With our appointment system, churches have little choice over the appointment of a pastor to their local church which was not an issue for the Presbyterians or the Episcopalians. Further, many believed that the dissention would only be pushed from the general church and annual conference into the local church as each church would need to decide how to respond to the OCP. Certainly, there would be on-going challenges as we have already experience over the past 47 years.

The passing of the “Traditional Plan” (TP) surprised most. With strong support from African conferences, the Philippines, and others, the TP moved out of committee to the floor for a final vote resulting in it passing 53-47%. We’re not done yet, either. The TP as passed will undergo a review at judicial council in April. At least 8 provisions are known to be problematic constitutionally and will probably be rendered as unconstitutional. The key proposal in the TP that is important is that it affirmed the church’s current doctrinal stance. I don’t believe the entire plan will be rejected. There are already plans to challenge it at the next regular general conference in 2020 and, as I write this, the Western Jurisdiction has finished an informal conference of bishops and conference leaders in which they are releasing a statement titled, “A Home for All God’s People.” A video and the text of the statement can be viewed there. Other conferences are joining in opposition and defiance to the general conference decision. If the TP is not overturned at GC2020, the progressive members may choose to take a different avenue.

The rejection of the OCP also displayed mistrust in the leadership of the bishops and the direction they were trying to lead. Many have said the bishops are out of touch with the people in the pews or that they have simply rejected those people’s opinions. Not all the bishops agree either. What is clear is that the open defiance breaking out across the US at the General Conference decision means many no longer trust the “government” of the United Methodist Church and the notion of church order “law” is in serious question. For over two hundred years, the Methodist Episcopal and now the United Methodist Church have operated following the lead of the general conference. It appears that is coming to an end.

What this means for all of us is that the fallout from this general conference will continue and, sadly, I believe it means the dissention will continue. For the first time, I am reading statements from both sides of this controversy talking about separating into different denominations.

Reflections

I would like to reflect on this whole matter from a couple of perspectives. First, is to reflect on my reaction to the LGBTQ controversy and how I am responding. Second, as I reflect on the possible impacts to Lakeview, to you, and to our life and ministry together, where do I see us moving and heading? Finally, I would offer a few personal reflections of my own in addition to what I may mention in the previous two. Up to this point, I have attempted to provide information and resources from both spectrums and, to the best of my ability, to remain somewhat bias neutral, but from here I will share my thoughts and perspective. Insofar as you agree or disagree with me, my prayer is that we can do so with grace, courtesy, and remembering that we are in the same family of God.

I grew up in a very fundamental church where gay people were believed to be living in sin, out of God’s grace, and redeemable if only they would turn away from sin. After I married, I joined the UMC. One of the hallmarks of our tradition as Wesleyans is the notion that we don’t have to be perfect to be part of the Christian family. I’m grateful for that for I am far from sinless. This grace-centeredness allows us to be loved and accepted “where we are” without proving we are something else or attaining some perceived standard before we can be called a disciple. At the same time as I joined the UMC, I entered law enforcement. It was the mid 70’s and the effects of the civil rights movement were still fresh in everyone’s experience. Law enforcement was just moving into a strong period of movement toward professionalism, high ethics, and accountability, at least west of the Rockies and away from LA and San Francisco – I cannot speak to events beyond that.

One might expect my bias with this background to be strongly fundamental, yet, I went to a school that was very diverse ethnically where I learned about people of color including Navajo and Hopi. Many of the racially charged messages were dissonant to my experience. As I began to meet an even wider diverse people, that strongly fundamental message no longer rang true. After 25 years of law enforcement and an advanced degree in divinity, my sense of what is sin has also changed. I no longer hold that to be gay is to be in sin by default. If sin is that which separates us from God’s love, then a deeper examination must be made to determine if a behavior or belief is sinful per-se.

In Matthew 18:6-9, Jesus tells the disciples that if one causes a believer to sin … well, the outcome isn’t pleasant. Paul also cautioned believers. In Romans 14:13 he tells us not to pass judgement or to put a stumbling block in front of another. In passing judgement over another’s salvation we are in great peril thinking we are greater than God in determining someone’s readiness for the kingdom. The writer of Hebrews, 12:14, reminds us work toward peace and holiness. With all that said, I find myself in some confusion and still working through my understanding. I have gay friends. I have sat at bedside with gay people dying from disease or age. I have worked alongside LGBTQ people in three different vocations. As I understand God’s Word, I do not believe that living a gay lifestyle is God’s original intent, but we live in a world shaped by thousands of years of disobedience, failure, denial, and sin and there are consequences and I have my consequences, challenges and failures. I don’t follow God all the time as I should and I’m certain there are parts of my life which do not honor God as He would like. This is a fact of the life we live today, how are we to respond. We do so in love and grace and to see beyond our own personal bias and belief always from the perspective that every person is a unique individual created in God’s image. But I don’t believe that to love someone, I need to affirm either their lifestyle or behavior, whatever it may be.

One has recently said that we talk about LGBTQ but we don’t talk to the people. I think that’s true. We speak from one perspective as if the person is not even present, as if we are the authority. I always want to approach every issue and challenge with the notion, “I may be wrong.” I am trying to listen and listen carefully. Perhaps I will never fully resolve my conundrum, but I want to make it clear this is my conundrum. I also realize, my position of authority as a Pastor affects many others and I am called to provide direction and counsel which I seek to do here.

Many of the people I shepherd have family or friends who are LGBTQ. I know there are LGBTQ who have elected not to self-identify and I do not wish to do harm to them. I will work hard to be welcoming, open to conversation, and willing to work together for the kingdom. This church-thing is messy, it is difficult, and we will never be perfected until Christ returns. But I must also be honest in sharing that I struggle with the notion of same-gender marriage and I am not yet prepared to officiate in same. As to the second key matter before the church – ordination of LGBTQ persons, I have seen, and I believe, God’s call to be valid in any person who follows Jesus. The challenge before us is how people in the church will receive an openly gay pastor under our appointment system. Some churches will not have a problem, others will. Let me be clear; the LGBTQ “question” is not one of salvation so if you disapprove of the lifestyle you do not have the option of judging on the basis of salvation – that is God’s alone. Let’s take that off the table for good even if we wrestle, as I do, with how to understand other aspects. Perhaps, among other actions, the church will need to re-examine the method of appointing pastors and itinerancy as a primary requisite for clergy.

As to the effects this may have on Lakeview, I do not know. A few have left the denomination and our church before general conference and I suspect others may because of it. I believe it is premature to walk away for any reason. LUMC is a vibrant community of people who care about each other and demonstrate that daily despite a variety of differences. We have a clearly defined mission and focus for our life together. A study was conducted last year by the UMC in the US concerning values based upon how people identify in the spectrum of conservative to progressive. Across the country, 44% self-identified as conservative, 28% moderate-centrist, 20% progressive, and 8% undecided. (Click here for more)

TheologicalOrientations

I suspect that if we were to survey Lakeview folks, we would see a similar trend, though perhaps shifted a bit more to conservative. It is the makeup, I believe, of most of our churches though clearly, that generalization is just that. There may come a time at which people may choose to decide to remain, join something new, or simply move on, but I don’t believe we are there yet. I am committed to helping shepherd all of the people at LUMC to draw closer to God, to experience the amazing work of the Holy Spirit, and to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Nothing the world-wide church has yet done, affects us to the point we must choose a side. God is God, Jesus is his divine son, and the Holy Spirit is still giving comfort and healing.

Finally, on this topic, if you are struggling with the controversy, the fallout, or the implications, please come see one of the clergy staff and together we will seek some deeper understanding.

As I continue to offer some personal reflections, I ask that you keep in mind these are my thoughts and positions as they reflect at the time of my writing. They do not reflect any official position of the church.

LGBTQ advocates say that the church has taken a move toward hatred and exclusion. I get that. When measures are taken to reinforce existing policy and adding to accountability for clergy and various boards, it looks oppressive on the face. Yet, what has changed are the accountability standards, otherwise, the premise of our doctrine remains unchanged. I think many of the accountability provisions are excessive and I am fairly confident they will be found to be unconstitutional in April by the judicial council. It’s possible calmer heads will prevail at the 2020 conference – possible. However, it seems that both extremes are digging in for one final battle in 2020 and if that happens, I believe it may be the death knell for the UMC. The western jurisdiction has just announced planning for “a new thing” in the Methodist way which sounds a great deal like the planning the WCA has done to prepare for the eventuality of schism.

Is it possible for Christians to disagree over theological and social issues but still respect, trust, and work together for the common ministry of sharing and spreading the good news of Jesus? I would like to say, “yes.” I hear progressives denigrating evangelical denominations and I hear conservatives denigrating those who wish to be fully inclusive to gays. Yet, I see people on both extremes who love Jesus and work tirelessly to serve others and share God’s grace. Nevertheless, focusing on this matter distracts the church, distracts us, and distracts those outside the church.

Certainly, where we differ on key issues; the divinity of Christ, the work of atonement on the cross, and the reality of the resurrection, it becomes increasingly difficult to find common ground. Further, the current situation we find ourselves in as a church seems to reflect the same cultural divide the US finds itself where people are unable to hear the other side or hold respect for those who differ. If that is the best we can do, perhaps we deserve to divide into at least two denominations.

The Great Commandment “Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself” certainly is a key to living our life as disciples. I hear and see many articles from the LGBTQ community that state that if you follow this commandment, you must affirm the LGBTQ lifestyle because that is how God created them, they cannot change, and they are created in God’s image. I understand the supposition and I think I understand, at least to some degree, how people who are LGBTQ feel marginalized and certainly have been oppressed. This is our challenge as followers of Jesus to somehow love, care for, and honor those who are different and believe differently on many things and yet, maintain our own integrity and values. Somehow, we need to be able to “play well with others” which used to be a little check-box on my report card from first grade.

Maybe, our focus has been on the wrong things. We have focused on the other’s behavior, lifestyle thinking it’s our job to change them and if we can’t change ‘em, we’ll judge ‘em. By the way, that works on both sides of the street. Let’s stop fighting each other and get back to the business of building the kingdom. That goes for our brothers and sisters in other denominations including Lutheran, Southern Baptist, and non-denomination. The kingdom ought to be our priority.

I have intentionally not relied on scripture to justify my position in my reflections and throughout this discussion. Why? Simply because theologians on both ends are using it to justify positions. When each side claims the high ground on interpretation of the Word, we exacerbate the argument. That is also why we have come to this impasse as a church, because we have placed this doctrinal divide of behavior over the doctrine of salvation by grace.

But, back to the business at hand for a moment. Where do I see the United Methodist Church going? I believe we are headed to schism with two sides digging in and few willing to address the heart issues. By the time GC2020 rolls around, this may be well underway. Though the “annual conference” is the “basic unit” of the UMC, I believe we will need to focus on the local church, right here and remain focused on who we are, what God is calling us to do, and how God is asking us to respond. I would ask you to do a few things:

  1. Give thanks in prayer and praise that Jesus is still Lord and savior of all who call upon his name.
  2. Continue to pray for the UMC world-wide. Even with our infighting, we are doing some great mission work. Ocias and Desiree, our missionaries to Honduras are great examples along with all the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in places around the globe.
  3. Pray for your pastors as we continue to walk the fine line between conference demands and your needs and seek to guide each of us in God’s will.
  4. Continue to pray for GC2020.
  5. Pray for those in our midst who are LGBTQ or have families. We need to love and support them and encourage them in their journey of faith.
  6. Pray that LUMC will not only survive this battle but thrive as a shining light in a dark world. Let us shine the light of salvation on the world.

Whatever is waiting for us ahead as a church, I believe if we continue to pray continually, listen carefully, and walk humbly before God, we will move in God’s will and direction. We will have to carefully watch to see what the UMC as a denomination does. Our first obligation is to God – over everything else! My promise to you is to continue praying, listening, and doing the very best I can to follow Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit as I serve you. I will make mistakes and I may be wrong, but I trust God to guide and lead. I covet your prayers and I am praying for each of you.

~Peace and grace, Pastor John


Bibliography

Therefore, Go. The United Methodist Church Handbook. 2017 United Methodist Church. (Available in the church office)

The Early Methodist Class Meeting. Watson, David Lowes, Wiph & Scock, 1985.

John Wesley’s Sermons, An Anthology. Ed. Outler, Albert & Heitzenrater, Richard. Abingdon, 1985.

Wesley and the People Called Methodists: Second Edition. Heitzenrater, Richard. Abingdon, 2014.

The Elusive Mr. Wesley: Second Edition. Heitzenrater, Richard. Abingdon, 2003.

Internet Resources

www.umc.org/who-we-are this link will take you to a wealth of information about the church and church structure

https://www.thoughtco.com/who-was-john-wesley-700975 Discover who John Wesley was

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/poets/charles-wesley.html Nice article about Charles Wesley, the hymn writer

https://barnabasfile.com/john-wesleys-holy-club/ Good account of the Holy Club at Oxford

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/methodisms-american-saint-bishop-francis-asbury The story of Francis Asbury in America and it includes a good video

http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/glossary-methodist-episcopal-church-the General glossary of Methodist terms

http://blackhistory.com/content/63491/african-methodist-episcopal-church Good article about the AME church

https://www.ame-church.com/ Official website of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/timeline-of-women-in-methodism Fairly comprehensive history of important times and women in Methodist history.

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/constitutional-structure this page begins a series outlining and detailing the organizational and constitutional structure of the UMC.

https://rmnetwork.org/ LGBTQ advocacy caucus

http://wesleyancovenant.org/ conservative advocacy caucus

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/commission-on-a-way-forward – 2016 committee formed by the general council of bishops

https://onechurchplan.org/ Website from the Commission on a Way Forward – contains the “One Church Plan

http://westernjurisdictionumc.org/ahomeforall/ Statement following GC2019

https://www.umnews.org/en/news/what-do-united-methodists-really-believe 2018 survey results from US United Methodists.


Download a copy here –The United Methodist Dilemma