Category: United Methodist Church

United Methodist Church

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Can #UMC-ers ‘Blog It Out’ in Preparation for General Conference?

Joel Watts is attempting to work out what it means to be a United Methodist blogger – as opposed to a United Methodist who blogs. His latest post gets the ball rolling on the subject.

In doing so, he raises an interesting question:

Can, or should we, use [the blogosphere] to settle disputes before the General Conference?

There are certainly questions of efficiency and polity to consider, but why couldn't we make the blogosphere help us make General Conference a better governing body? Anyone who has paid any attention to General Conferences over the past few quadrennia certainly knows how constipated a process it has become. Could our rhetoric and advocacy in the blogosphere lead to a more pleasurable or productive General Conference experience.

To be sure, UM bloggers would have to learn to abide by certain ground rules. That is, if our rhetoric remains deadlocked within the same left-right, ideological malaise, there would be no reason to attempt this type of feat. However, if we agreed to speak with each other and about differing subjects as if we are each creatures of sacred worth, we might be able to incorporate the blogosphere into our polity in this fashion.

Am I off base? What would you suggest?

Let's get talking! 2016 is not far away.

 

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How Soon Will the #UMC Split?

Annual Conference is just around the corner. I'm excited, mainly because I will be comissioned as a probationary elder this year – something that has been nearly 10 years in the making. I will also be taking a new appointment shortly thereafter. It's an exciting time.

Unfortunately, the upcoming Annual Conference season has caused many in the UMC blogosphere to turn their attention to the incipient rumblings of a schism.

Dr. David Watson – Academic Dean at United Theological – wrote this thought-provoking piece.

John Lomperis – IRD director of UMAction – wrote about a group who claims schism has already happened in theory.

Joel Watts questions – among other things – the witness of a church that would schism.

To be sure, there are other things over which a church split could be fought. However, the ideological extremes (isn't is telling that phrase is germane to the discussion?) appear willing to pull the church apart over the issue of LBGT inclusion into the life of the community of faith. Since the 1970's, this issue has been pulling at the edges of the denomination – fraying and tattering the fabric of the church.

In the meantime, the culture has not stopped it's slow-but-sure turn away from the church. We are all aware that the Western church as a whole – not to mention the UMC – has spent the last 5 decades in decline. Each of the ideologically opposed sides has spent considerable amounts of time blaming each other for it, or they will point to their own numeric success as proof that their side has the market on righteousness cornered.

The fact is that the church's multi-decade, numeric decline has much more to do with cultural shift and the church's refusal to respond in kind, than it does with how the church acts on this issue. Yes, the church's stance on issues of LBGT concern effect the church's witness in the world, but church renewal folk will tell you we have bigger fish to fry.

In my opinion – and the opinion of many others – schism would only further kill the church's witness.

I spoke about the frayed edges of the fabric of the denomination. However, there is a vast middle. In this vast middle lives the majority of the denomination. These people see the same disagreements everyone else does, and they probably have their own opinions on this and other issues – with varying degrees of passion ascribed to them. What they see, however, is their local congregation and the communities into which they must minister.

Those in this vast middle see the ministry that needs to be done, and not their pet ideological issues for which they need to doggedly advocate. They are congregations who tend to be more conservative, being led by pastors who tend to be more progressive – or vice versa – and they see opportunities for ministry. They are communities of faith, and they understand that our minor disagreements over pet issues should not overshadow the vital ministry they could do together.

How much more effective and vital could our ministry be if we learned to live and love together? Could our disagreements be used to enliven our community, instead of being used as a way to divide it? Could we make ministry about the love and grace of God, and not about how we've learned to deny it to each other?

Even with General Conference being a couple of years away, there are rumblings of a schism proposal (or two) being floated around. It won't pass this quadrennial or next, but there are plenty of us who hear these rumblings and think it could be sooner rather than later.

I prefer never.

What do you think?

 

‘The Christian Post’ Quotes Me & @eJoelWatts

After seeing yet another Christian “news service” include only the conservative outlook for the future of the UMC and the question of full-inclusion of the LBGT community, Joel Watts and myself made it an issue. The reporter was very gracious and sent us an email interview. This story is the result.  

@eJoelWatts & Myself Respond to @JohnLomperis on @HuffPostRelig

A quick post to direct you to a response I penned with Joel. John Lomperis of The Institute on Religion & Democracy wrote a Washington Post op-ed, and we believe it is woefully incorrect.  

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Video From The Pastor’s Office #17 – “Better Know A Bishop: Minerva Carcaño”

With all the talk about leadership in the Catholic Church this week, I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to a Bishop with whom you may or may not be acquainted. Meet Bishop Minerva Carcaño.

 

The ‘Unthinking Pacifist’ Calls-Out The ‘Indiscriminate Warmonger’ – @MarkDTooley

Mark Tooley – president of the pseudo-Methodist, Washington think tank, The Institute on Religion & Democracy – reviewed a book and posted it on the IRD’s blog.  I get their email notifications, and was prepared to hit the delete button on this one, when I saw that Mr. Tooley had engaged (once again) in what the

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A Christian Response to Newtown – #BBN

My colleague – @ejoelwatts – was on the fence, but I'll just call it a vodcast. In response to the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School – and the less-than-Christian responses to that tragedy – a few of my colleagues decided to offer the rational Christian response to the massacre. It's a bit rough and

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Mark Tooley, @theIRD, Silent on #SandyHook

Typically, I only mention The Institute on Religion & Democracy when I feel they have reacted to top stories or world events in a less than faithful and compassionate way. I have never brought their name up for nothing at all. Until now. The IRD typically jumps on a chance to include itself in the

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SERMON from 11-25-12: John Wesley on The Big Decisions

John 3.27 John answered, No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.   John Wesley on The Big Decisions   In seminary, you learn tons of information that is useless outside of a theological and academic venue. In other words, it lacks real-world application. As a seminarian–the term used to describe

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Spitballing the Future of the Church: Small and Rural Edition

  On The Verge: A Look Into The Apostolic Future of The Church is a book written by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson.  In it, Hirsch posits that the church became the power structure and lost it’s status as a vital movement.  Essentially, the church becoming the power structure – at about the time Constantine

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