Good News releases statement calling the present state of the UMC as “untenable”

GoodNews_sqGood News, the independent evangelical United Methodist organization which promotes “orthodox Wesleyan Christianity” released a statement today following their March 28 board meeting which says that they believe the current situation of the UMC to be “untenable.”

Their assessment of the church’s situation is in response to a variety of legal and administrative actions in the UMC related to same-sex marriage and homosexuality. “Many of our bishops are unwilling to enforce The Book of Discipline and the covenant we have agreed to live by” the Good News board wrote.   “Widespread disregard of that covenant, the will of General Conference, and the Council’s own promise in 2011 to uphold the Book of Discipline demonstrates the deep division and conflicting worldviews existing within The United Methodist Church. ”

The board acknowledged that there has been conversation in various circles about the ability to remain a united church, and considering the possibility of separation. “We are aware of conversations taking place among leading pastors and other groups around the country to examine what options are available for those of us who are biblical Christians and who have agreed to live by The Book of Discipline,” the board said.  “Those options include sweeping reform of the church or the creation of a different kind of future.  If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.  If in reality we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one. ”

When asked for a response to the Good News statement, the Reconciling Ministries Network (an advocacy group calling for full inclusion of GLBT persons in the life of the church) referred to their “Vision for a Changing Church in a Changing World” published today on their blog page, which acknowledges the divisions, but pledges to work with “the current and future connectional processes and power structures of The United Methodist Church in collaboration with current and future emerging alternative Methodist/Wesleyan allies and structures, calling those at all levels of authority and discipleship to faithfulness for our shared mission.”

The Good News board ended their statement by calling United Methodists to prayer, asking God to “…grant us wisdom in finding a way forward that would preserve the church’s commitment to Scripture and United Methodist doctrine.”

Good News has traditionally been opposed to changes in the Book of Discipline that would allow for GLBT participation or same-sex marriage.

The full statement from the Good News board is listed below.:

At their board meeting ending March 28, 2014, Good News staff and board members discussed at length the present reality:  many of our bishops are unwilling to enforce The Book of Discipline and the covenant we have agreed to live by.   Widespread disregard of that covenant, the will of General Conference, and the Council’s own promise in 2011 to uphold the Book of Discipline demonstrates the deep division and conflicting worldviews existing within The United Methodist Church.

We see the present situation as untenable. We are aware of conversations taking place among leading pastors and other groups around the country to examine what options are available for those of us who are biblical Christians and who have agreed to live by The Book of Discipline.  Those options include sweeping reform of the church or the creation of a different kind of future.  If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.  If in reality we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one.  Many are discussing the wisdom of churches continuing to fund a denomination that is unwilling to live by its policies and whose chief officers do not enforce its beliefs.  Some have already curtailed their financial support in protest.  Concrete and dramatic actions are likely to come out of those conversations in the next few months.

The Good News board and staff request prayer for The United Methodist Church in the midst of the present crisis.  May God grant us wisdom in finding a way forward that would preserve the church’s commitment to Scripture and United Methodist doctrine.  And may we treat one another with grace and respect as we seek to create a faithful future

UMReporter Staff

This story was created by the staff of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com
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  1. ” examine what options are available for those of us who are biblical Christians…”

    I wonder how far they intend to go while being this arrogant and condescending to people they disagree with. Progressive Christians are just as “biblical” as Christians that use the Bible to exclude and demean LGBT people, the difference is that progressive Christians have good news for everyone not just straight, cisgender people.

  2. Jason Sansbury says:

    It sounds like they are setting up the legal action of separation. The argument will be failure to uphold Book of Discipline is a breech of contract. That makes the case much, much different than the Anglican cases where courts have sided with the denomination in retaining property rights.

  3. David Topping says:

    For “Good News” to imply that those who don’t agree with them aren’t “biblical Christians” is extremely condescending, and also not true. Furthermore, the not-very-veiled threat of an organized campaign to withhold apportionments is right there in black and white, and is very un-Methodist and un-Christian as well. Shame on them.

    • Wes Andrews says:

      Biblical authority is the most important issue for the church. Without a transcendent, unchanging, universal source of truth, a standard for justice and love that transcends political and cultural whim is impossible to establish. Progressives don’t believe in any universal transcendent standard. Everything is optional. Truth for the progressive is based on whim and political power, and not some transcendent, objective source of truth.

      The progressives in the UMC (and any other denomination) simply do not accept the authority of Scripture. They treat it like a buffet of “religious” ideas in which they take what they like and ignore what they don’t like. They treat the Book of Discipline in the same fashion.

      In so doing, progressives reject the community based covenants that give the UMC its unified identity, polity and process (BOD). They reject the due process of establishing that identity (General Conference).

      They “want” community, but reject what makes community possible.

      And progressives seem to enjoy “authoritatively” telling others what to think, even though they reject any kind of objective source for that authority. And the result….. they are fracturing the UMC, other denominations, and other institutions that hold us together as a society.

      • Mel Hazlewood says:

        No, Wes. You are free to your interpretation and understanding of scripture. I, and many others, would appreciate respect for our interpretation. These interpretations clearly are different on certain sexuality issues but have far more in common than some conservatives will acknowledge. This is especially true to those who call themselves “biblical Christians,” clearly consigning many to being “non-biblical Christians.” We could just as easily say the same in this unfortunate situation. I do wonder at times why we so widely different on Jesus’ core message.

        • Wes Andrews says:

          I appreciate your respectful tone Mel. We will have to agree to disagree. Scripture is authoritative, IMHO, and that includes the Biblical teaching regarding sexuality and marriage. Scriptural definitions of sexuality don’t focus on homosexual behavior, they focus on the best and safest use of sexuality within marriage between a man and a woman who are equally submitted to one another and to God.

  4. The Watcher says:

    I agree with Jason – the problem with the action in the NE is it probably threatens the legal standing of the held in trust clause because the underlying bylaws of the organization have been breached without consequence.

  5. “Concrete and dramatic actions are likely to come out of those conversations in the next few months.”
    I think this means that whatever they are proposing, and there may be more than one proposal, will be unveiled at the annual conferences across the US in May and June. Now that conservatives have the majority on the global level, we can expect them to try and close any remaining loopholes in the Discipline to enable them to remove as many partnered gay clergy and pastors who perform same gender weddings as possible. I ask the United Methodist Reporter to diligently make us aware of these proposals in their coverage of annual conference actions across the US.

  6. While they argue over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, members are fleeing into the void.

  7. John JP Patterson says:

    It seems to me, “Good News” is using the same somewhat veiled tactics the IRD backed groups used to “Bully” WorldVision into submission.

    Our Lord’s Summary of the Law
    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And, a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another As I Have Loved You.
    - Matthew 22:37, John 13:34

    God has already settled this matter: all human beings are created in the image of God. There are no exceptions, no exclusions. We all belong to the family of God.
    - Bishop Melvin Talbert

    The Church is wrong. Cloaking homophobia in poor biblical scholarship and even worse concoctions of church law is simply wrong. Moreover, demanding subservience to Church law above dictates of conscience and biblical understanding smacks of idolatry.
    - Rev. Schuyler Rhodes

    • While progressives accuse traditionalist of “quoting scripture”, then it would appear that you are breaking a primary progressive rule by quoting Matthew 22:37 and John 13:34. And by doing so, it suggests that this is a method employed in order to ignore, erase, or alter other Scripture, like Matthew 19:4-6. This Biblical interpretation methodology doesn’t work because Jesus NEVER contridict himself, and ALL that he ever said is equally valid and true. Therefore, no matter the man made methodology used to interpret the Bible, no one can ever change the definition that Jesus gave marriage in his affirmation of God’s created order for marriage prior to his condemnation of divorce.

    • Mr. Patterson
      Demanding tolerance and inclusion by the progressives might be best done in front of a mirror. The intolerance of those who demand the denomination disregard a duly debated and voted on document is hypocrisy at the worst level, followed closely behind diagnosing me with homophobia, “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to homosexual people”, of which I have neither, while a nice catchphrase, it in and of itself seems to “cloak”. The issue at hand has nothing to do with fear or aversion. The issue is simply if marriage is between one consenting adult male and one consenting adult female in the eyes of the Methodist Church.

      (I will stay away from the “adult” argument for now)

  8. MethodistPie says:

    There have to be a lot of large church pastors who are sizing up the cost/benefit of being part of the connection now. Their congregations are paying the bills for an organization that seems unable or unwilling to abide by its own rules. The “brand” name has become synonymous with dysfunction. The money poured into General Conferences and Judicial Councils (not to mention underwriting the Western Jurisdiction) could surely be invested in more productive ministries. It’s becoming difficult to sustain a rational for investing in the current edition of the beyond-the-local-United Methodist Church.

  9. Rev. Robin Swieringa says:

    I attended an evangelical denomination’s seminary because their websites and denominational officials stated that the denomination fully supported the ordination of women into pastoral ministry. In my first and second years, I discovered that the denomination, in fact, licensed and ordained complementarian men who did not believe in the denomination’s view of women in ministry — and who then “taught” their congregations their view in places other than the pulpit or classroom, despite convenanting to support the egalitarian view at their ordinations. In years three to four, the denomination published a study guide/position paper that declared the denomination’s judgment that the egalitarian view toward women was the Biblical view, and for a brief, shining moment of congruence and integrity, stopped ordaining complementarian men. Nonetheless, three years following my graduation, and in the year of my own ordination to Word and Sacrament, the denomination went back to ordaining complementarians “in the name of theological freedom.” At the end of my first pastorate, I resigned my ordination and left the denomination because I could no longer place myself under the authority of a ministerial governance board that would not uphold what the denomination said was the accurate interpretation of the Bible.

    Due to the above, I have watched the current conflict in the UMC closely, and was deeply disappointed to hear that the denomination was not going to uphold its Book of Discipline, by which its leadership and ministers agreed to serve and to which they agreed to be held accountable. When one of the pro-gay-marriage group of pastors called his colleagues to overwhelm the discipline system by marrying as many gays and lesbians in the church (thus grinding it to a halt), I hoped that the denominational officials would hold the line beyond which those pastors were being urged to run, turn, and stick out their tongues. Thus, I was very disappointed to read that the denomination had, in fact, done exactly what the faction’s spokesperson had hoped: it decided to look the other way.

    Let me be clear: My disappointment was not over the de facto decision to allow UMC pastors to marry other-than-heterosexual persons in the church; rather, it was the denomination’s decision to allow its ministers, ministerial boards, etc. to willfully violate their own commitments to uphold the Book of Discipline without negative sanction. Having done so, the denomination itself abrograted its moral/ethical authority to exercise any form of negative sanction towards ministers who violate other aspects of the Book of Discipline, since anyone violating the Book could reasonably say, “Well, the bishops have decided not to uphold the heterosexual-only marriage rule, so why are they picking on me/this issue?” And, finally, if the denomination’s leaders are going to do what they want to anyway, why should its ministers bother participating in the annual meetings of the clergy? Or its laity weigh in on issues of import?

    Despite a lot of ink spilled in the public media asserting the contrary, people do continue to choose churches to attend and to support financially on the basis of those churches’ denominational creeds, policies, and the like. Although I, too cringed at the Good News’s use of the word Biblical, I applaud them for bringing the issues of authority and integrity into bold relief in an attempt to move the UMC’s leaders back into integrity of word and deed. And, if the UMC leaders continue to decide that the Book of Discipline doesn’t matter, I will applaud Good News for having the integrity and courage of their convictions to leave the UMC.

  10. theenemyhatesclarity says:

    I am tired of the fighting. The current structure of the United Methodist Church is not sustainable anyway. Why not just dissolve and use our resources for the Kingdom in the manner each local congregation see fit?

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  11. I completely agree with their position. The current state is untenable. I agree, however, for completely different reasons than the Evangelicals. Their unwillingness to embrace change and see past the well-worn covers of their tightly clutched Bibles are going to spell the end of the UMC as we know it. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, though. What would a separated Methodist denomination look like? The possibilities are exciting. I’d be glad to not have to deal with bigotry, unkind words, judgment, and narrow-mindedness.

    Like it or not, the world is changing, folks. If a split does come to be, I predict that all the evangelical congregations — as membership dwindles when they die off — will be holding fire sales of used hymnals and Natalie Sleeth anthems. Just make sure Sleeth’s “Jazz Gloria” is in the pile, will you?

  12. When we came for baptism in the UMC, we answered questions: “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
    What if evil, injustice, and oppression are embodied in the laws of your society or in the human-made rule book of your church? Isn’t your duty to resist with all your might? We are now where our nation was in the middle of the 19th century with respect or slavery and where it was in the 1960s with respect to civil rights. The Christian’s duty is first to resist evil, which in this case is gross discrimination against our precious children on account of a circumstance that isn’t of their choosing.
    Good News is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the gospel. Their insinuation that they are “biblical Christians” while the rest of us aren’t just shows how blind and self-righteous they are. This is a lot of what separates us.

    • Wes Andrews says:

      Sandy, you are not talking about rejecting evil, you are talking about rejecting the plan and simple definition of sexuality and marriage in Scripture.

  13. There is a general perception among many young people that the church has become irrelevant to their lives. If people believe that we have little or nothing to say about the human condition, then we are in dire straits. Our task should be to foster spiritual formation, to bring people closer to an understanding of God and to make disciples for Christ. As Bishop Melvin Talbert says, “There are no exceptions, no exclusions. We all belong to the family of God.” The journey needs to be open to all who seek a greater understanding of their relationship with God. If we close our hearts, our minds and our doors, then we are not journeying anymore and we are becoming an irrelevant institution. God is moving among us and we must remain open to His grace and respond to what He wants us to be.

    • The irrelevancy issue among young people is, indeed, tragic. But, this extends into the rest of the population as well. Far too many in our culture of narcissism would, of course, prefer the church conform to them and the culture instead of the other way around. Since the church does not appear to be an “easy button” to them, they bail or never show up in the first place. Confronting our human condition is daunting, challenging, frightening. But that’s what we must do before we can truly walk with Jesus. Prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace are the greatest gifts of all human history. However, in order to receive them and be saved through them, we must humble ourselves and conform to God’s will. And that, my friends, is what far too many are unwilling to do. Even inside our denomination, there seems to be a plan of forced complicity. The left seems to believe that if they can force our denomination to capitulate on these sexuality issues, that it can somehow change the meaning of Scripture as well as change the mind of God. So, the big question of the hour, does the UMC cave, push the “easy button, and board the bandwagon of secular society, or does it get up off the mat, go back to work in the true Wesleyan fashion, and bring the secular society over into God’s camp?

      • Young people feel the church is irrelevant because their parents felt the same way. It has been thus for a long time. The “more is better” mentality and “if it feels good do it” mentality have reigned supreme in the progressive atmosphere that is so thick in our country/world today. When a hunger for Father/Son/Holy Spirit is planted in the hearts of ALL men–and when there are Shepherds who will feed that hunger ready to serve–the course of this country will change–as will the world. The altar of political correctness will in deed destroy the UMC and the USA and the world. Keep looking up, signs and wonders are happening every day.

Your thoughts?

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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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