Commentary: Don’t escalate the war


by the Reverend Michael Tupper*

The Covenantal Unity Plan (CUP) proposed by Dr. Bill Arnold is more likely to escalate the 44 year civil war in the United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion than to lessen it. This General Conference legislation would enact severe mandatory sentences for pastors who officiate at same gender weddings. Many clergy would face immediate dismissal and loss of their credentials. This would only lead to greater conflict in our denomination.

Dr. Arnold is a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. I travelled to the Asbury campus in Kentucky on Friday, April 15 to protest discrimination in our church and Dr. Arnold’s CUP proposal. I talked with students on campus, but was unable to talk with Dr. Arnold.

I will be directly affected if the CUP legislation is approved. I officiated at the same gender wedding for my daughter Sarah in 2014. Last summer I officiated at the wedding of Rev. Hutchison, a gay pastor forced to resign from serving his United Methodist church. Because I officiated at two same gender weddings, I would lose my ministerial credentials and never be able to pastor in the United Methodist Church.

I love the United Methodist Church and have faithfully served the church as a pastor for 35 years. I’ve appreciated the theological diversity in our “Big Tent”. Unfortunately, Dr. Arnold’s legislation would lead our church away from this. Instead, it would lead to four more years of a more intensified civil war and continued discrimination against LGBTQ persons.

I’ve been symbolizing our church’s approach to LGBTQ persons by sleeping outside in a tent every night for the past 142 nights. Our church is pushing LGBTQ persons outside our churches into the cold. I will be concluding the Tent Witness in Portland during General Conference. Rev. Frank Schaefer and I are inviting others to join us for National Tent Night on Friday, May 13. People can tent out in front of their homes, churches or Wesley Foundations on that night. Together, we can send a message to General Conference delegates that we want an end to discrimination and an end to our church’s war.


Mike Tupper*The Reverend Mike Tupper is an elder in the West Michigan Annual Conference. You may learn more about Rev. Tupper’s tent protest at




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15 Comments on "Commentary: Don’t escalate the war"

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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No Rev Tupper, you have not faithfully served The UMC. You have willfully violated the BoD and broken your covenant creating another fracture within our denomination.

Paul W.

Those who violate our covenant like Mr. Tupper, and those who enable folks like Mr. Tupper, are the problem. The Scriptures are clear about this issue. The BoD is clear about this issue. No amount of revisionist rhetoric changes these facts. Mr. Tupper should have the integrity to resign instead of playing political games while still receiving his full salary from the UMC.

Mike Thomas

That hateful language that was forced into the BoD in 1972 is NOT “our covenant” and the Scriptures are most certainly NOT “clear about this issue.”
I applaud Mr. Tupper for his courageous and loving stand in support of his daughter. It is clear to me that the one who is “enabling” him in this effort is Christ Jesus.

Jonathan Hunt

Ah yes, the old “hateful” propaganda. The truth is hate to those who hate truth.
Which part of scripture is not clear to you, Genesis 2:24 or Matthew 19:5?

Mike Thomas

“The truth is hate to those who hate truth.” Wow. So… profound. And so I guess that means that Lies are Love to those who Love Lies. And Facts are Frightening to those who Fear Facts. And Science is Confusing to those who are Confused by Science….
But nevermind that. What is your point with those Bible verses? What is the relevance of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis and Jesus’ teachings on divorce in Matthew with the issue at hand?

Richard Jenkins

The context of Matthew 19:1-12 shows that it is about all human sexuality, not divorce. Jesus’ position about divorce was already stated in Matt 5:31.

Mike Tupper, Trying to ask you as graciously as possible…. Did you not refuse a ‘just resolution’ in order to try to go to trial and create more awareness? Did you not write that you were a ‘martyr’ in the church and called for 9 others to be martyrs with you? Are you not camping outside now at many places to gain publicity to protest the UMC stance? So I ask how are those actions not ‘escalating the war’? I realize we disagree on this issue …and being respectful in our disagreement is important. But the actions you’very taken also… Read more »
John Wesley Leek

I will also add, based on the photo above, that the writer’s protest may have unintentionally been on the grounds of Asbury University which is an institution completely independent from Asbury Seminary. The mistake that the two are the same is often made as they share the name of our favorite Francis! 🙂

John Wesley Leek

The writer (and now many readers) may be surprised to know that “A Covenantal Unity Plan” is authored by two United Methodist elders serving churches in Ohio. It was inspired by a blog post written by Dr. Arnold and Dr. Watson of United Theological Seminary. I hope this oversight was unintentional.

Narrow is the way

When they went through ordination they acknowledged that they shared a set of shared ideology, idiology, tenents and beliefs. There was and is no doubt that in the how righteousness and holyness is defined and understood. You cant go back and rewrite the terms of a covenant, and yes each ordained minister makes the same covenant before God.


The only thing I can say to Tupper is “physician, heal thyself.”

Mary Page
UMC data shows this Here are some of the findings: About 54 percent of pastors agreed with the church’s ban on same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court ruling, compared to 59 percent before the ruling. About 38 percent now disagree with the ban, up from 32 percent. About 54 percent of lay people in leadership roles agreed with the ban after the ruling, compared to 50 percent before. As with pastors, about 38 percent disagree with the ban ─ a drop of 1 percent. About 41 percent of members agreed with the ban after the ruling, compared to 46 percent… Read more »
Nancy G.
Satan is surely dancing with glee. Each side escalates the division with their attacks on the other. Jesus knew the need to pray for unity. Rock throwing never helps and is the primary reason why nonbelievers are turned off by Christians and within the Body of Christ, why people won’t receive what opposing views have to say. We are at an impasse with each side believing they are correct. Lord, give us wisdom and discernment as we move forward, and we pray that we act in love with one another as You have commanded, and that Your spirit convicts each… Read more »
Richard F Hicks

Everyone take your toys to your own corner. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

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