Recently Read: If Trials Stop, Likelihood of Schism Grows

MattOreillyIn the wake of Dr. Tom Frank’s Open Letter to the Council of Bishops and the response from the Good News organization, this post by Matt O’Reilly has been making the rounds on the blogosphere:

In the end, the Council of Bishops are in an exceedingly difficult place as our pastors and as the leaders of our Church. Let’s not underestimate the weight of the burden of their responsibility, and let’s cover them with much prayer. Frank is probably right. Continuing to bring clergy up on charges is likely to dissolve any semblance of unity we may still have. But the alternative of stopping the trials makes schism seem almost inevitable. It is sobering to consider that we may have come to the place in which we discover just how deeply divided the United Methodist Church really is.

via Incarnatio: Scripture & Culture in Wesleyan Perspective: If Trials Stop, Likelihood of Schism Grows (#UMC, @UMReporter).

Click on the link above to read the full post.

What do you think? Will schism occur if the bishops stop responding in a judicial manner?

Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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8 Comments on "Recently Read: If Trials Stop, Likelihood of Schism Grows"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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I was witnessed the connection in exactly the kind of litigation Gary Bebop references. It was painful to hear the attorney for the plaintiff reading from the Discipline, illustrating that the Annual Conference was taking a position in contravention to its own written rules. The jury found against the church BIG TIME. If these church trials are stopped, what legal grounds will we have for taking anyone's orders, under any circumstances? The distinction may be clear to some of us, but that doesn't mean secular juries will buy it.

Melvin Woodworth

Those who honor Jesus's prayer that we all be one will neither leave nor exclude other from the United Methodist Church.


Now, now, Melvin … You don't need to be dragging Jesus into this mess. This is about rules and regulations, the discipline and the big stick … Grace, peace, forgiveness, andthe Gospel have no place amidst this donnybrooke.

Gary Bebop

Any action by a renegade bishop or council or jurisdiction that encumbers or unlawfully seizes resources will unleash litigation. Church judicatories should take note of the drama taking place within PC-USA. Courts will not respect judicatories who break or disregard their own WRITTEN rules.

John Meunier

As long as the UMC has a pension plan, guaranteed appointment, and healthy benefits packages, it will have powerful restraints on formal schism.


There is a profound difference between the issues of 2013 and the previous action (or lack thereof) in California-Nevada. There has been, I suspect, a quiet assent to the idea that the Western Jurisdiction and perhaps others are doing to do their own thing. But when Bishop Talbert decided to do his thing in North Alabama, over the resident bishop's request to cease and desist, the equation changed. This was an overtly aggressive act that puts the church in a perilous place.

I don't think that the UMC is as close to splitting as many fear. Or that the numbers of persons/churches who would leave because of a lack of trials is significant. Looking back at history, when the Sacramento 68 were not put on trial, the evangelical people of that Conference warned of the same things that O'Reilly and Good News are saying today — It never happened. Here's what was said in 2000 about that decision not to put the California 68 on trial: Smith (Evangelical representative) appealed to the national leadership of the United Methodist Church, especially the General… Read more »

This article implies that there's still a place for socially "liberal" Methodists within the UMC. I would argue a schism has already occurred as the left-wing of the church is forced out, put on trial, and told repeatedly that there's no place for them.

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