For years United Methodist pastors have trekked off to the General Council every four years and prayerfully considered the “same sex marriage” issue, and the ordaining of gay pastors. I remember my own pastor asking for prayer for him, and I also remember him, as the pastor of a large church which had recently moved into a beautiful new building, large enough to accommodate the growing membership, especially among the youth, telling us when he returned it might be necessary for him to leave and establish a church elsewhere. Today the issue is officiating over the marriage of same-sex couples. “Hundreds” of Methodist ministers have signed on to perform the marriages.
While the denomination has debated the issue of homosexuality for decades, the growing number of clergy willing to disobey church laws and marry gay and lesbian couples has many in the church concerned.
“For forty years we United Methodists have listened to each other, respected each other and have engaged in holy conferencing on the important issues of same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality,” concerned clergy say in the letter.
“Though the discussions and resultant protests have not always been pleasant, there has been the assurance that we would respect the decisions of General Conference and live by the covenant that holds us together.”
The United Methodist Church’s General Conference meets every four years. In its most recent meeting in 2008, delegates voted to maintain the church’s policy prohibiting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of partnered homosexuals. Source: Christian Post
The Faithful UMC website has originated to provide a way for letters and petitions to reach United Methodist bishops. When you click the “View Signatures” tab, you will see my Church, Asbury Methodist first on the list. In fact, I see three additional signatures from Asbury, as well as First United Methodist, Tulsa, on the list but few of the other large Methodist congregations. The following is a portion of the Clergy Letter to the Council of Bishops:
For forty years we United Methodists have listened to each other, respected each other and have engaged in holy conferencing on the important issues of same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. And every four years, our discussions have culminated in General Conference determining the church’s position. Though the discussions and resultant protests have not always been pleasant, there has been the assurance that we would respect the decisions of General Conference and live by the covenant that holds us together. The unity of The United Methodist Church has been preserved as a result of this commitment to holy conferencing and to respecting the decisions of General Conference.
If we take them at their word, at least 900 of those who want to change the Book of Discipline regarding same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality are no longer willing to honor our Wesleyan way of holy conferencing and respectful dialog. As the article cited above states, the Rev. Robbins and others are encouraging and committed to massive acts of ecclesiastical disobedience, hoping that The United Methodist Church will not possess the resources or the resolve to enforce the church’s position. We are grieved that, evidently, the process of holy conferencing and the mutual respect necessary for good-faith conversations are no longer valued by so many of our colleagues. Their promised actions not only threaten the integrity of our church’s connectional relationships, they undermine any hope of future dialog and prayerfully working out a solution to our church’s seemingly intractable divide.
I ran across the book Taking Back The United Methodist Church, by Mark Tooley at Acton Institute Power Blog. I cannot vouch for the book, as I haven’t read it. I’m hoping to find it in a Kindle edition but it’s doubtful since it was published in 2008. Read a review of it here. Acton Institute writer, Ray Nothstine, quotes Tooley:
The Council of Bishops often speaks as a reunion of former hippies of the 1960s and 1970s, constantly rehashing the old protest themes of American imperialism, militarism and economic exploitation. Their statements imply that the world would be entirely prosperous and peaceful were it not for the insidious influence of the U.S. In recent decades, they have never collectively expressed concern about totalitarian Marxism or about radical Islam, both of which have murdered millions over the last century, and both of which see Christianity as a special enemy.
Tooley provides insight into all of the recent United Methodist General Conferences, which includes a plethora of attention induced antics by homosexual activists, who want to overturn the traditional teachings of the Church. Tooley is right to note that the debate is really a greater debate and disagreement about the authority of Scripture. More recently, votes to affirm traditional views on sexuality have increased at the General Conferences.
Most of us don’t want to leave our established churches, and if we do, where do we go? Here’s a question: do you visit your Pastor’s office to let him/her know your opinions on major issues? We should do it. We must do it.