Commentary: Jesus and the United Methodist system


by Richard Peck*

As we enter the season of electing bishops, it’s interesting to compare our system with the selection system employed by Jesus.

The alarming thing about Jesus is that he had no management training. His sloppy administrative style is most evident in this recruitment practices.

He apparently had no guidelines for selecting disciples. In fact, he seems to have chosen them at random.

Had Jesus employed United Methodist strategies he would not have made that mistake.

All the synagogues would have been invited to send one Pharisee and one layperson to participate in the election process. There would be some complaints that scribes and Sadducee should not be considered as laypersons.

The presiding officer would have read selections from the Torah and the minutes from the last meeting of the Sanhedrin to ensure that elections would be held in keeping with the Mosaic decalateral.

An occasionally working electronic system would have been used.

Simon Peter would have run well in early ballots, but would have been rejected for being too impulsive and quick-tempered. Other candidates would also fail to receive the necessary votes: James and John––too argumentative; Thomas––too cynical; Zacchaeus––too short to be seen by the chairperson; Simon––too revolutionary: and Philip––too impatient.

Mary Magdalene would lose votes because of an undeserved reputation.

Caiaphas would have done well, but a rural caucus would have put their votes together to try to elect a lesser known Pharisee.

Matthew would have come close, but some would accuse him of receiving votes in exchange for lower tax bills.

Martha would have done well until she left to fix dinner,

After 20 ballots and no elections, the group would have stopped to consider the use of Rule 44.

That’s when some would have noticed Jesus was missing. A few would have thought he’d gone on a recruiting trip. Others would have decided he’d gone for a walk on the water.

But, in fact, he would have returned to the wilderness to ask the tempter if control over all the kingdoms on earth included the United Methodists.


richpeckA UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry

*Rich Peck is a retired clergy member of New York Annual Conference, and the former editor of The Daily Christian Advocate, Newscope, Circuit Rider, the UM Book of Resolutions, and various Abingdon books. Rich has served as press secretary for the Council of Bishops and is a past president of United Methodist Association of Communicators. The association named him the communicator of the year and a 2007 member of the Communicators’ Hall of Fame.


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jimmie shelby
jimmie shelby

The Master had no trouble in selecting those who would change the World. Iscariot was even part of Father/Son/Holy Spirit’s Grand Plan. A way had been planned for mans’ reconciliation to the Father at the Foundation. Rev. Peck has done a masterful job in pointing out the ineptness of the bishop selection procedures in the umc. One can only hope and pray that the selection process is preceded by MUCH prayer and those individuals who are selected walk deeply in their Faith in Father/Son/Holy Spirit. One fears that only those who are consumed with the sexuality chasm that exists in… Read more »


Truly enjoyed the contribution from Rev. peck. His sense of humor is needed. Maybe some reading lessons can go with the prayer, since one of the cornerstones of our faith is reason – given by God and left for us to develop.

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