Tuesday, June 02, 2020

United Methodist Split Interrupted

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2020 was scheduled to be the year the United Methodists from around the world would meet and formerly and legally "un-unite."


The coronavirus, however, has changed much---including the planned split of the United Methodists over the issue of homosexual behavior, the clergy, and the doctrinal position of the church regarding homosexual behavior.

The coronavirus, mixed with riots that could continue into the summer, has prompted the United Methodists to postpone their planned split of one of the world's largest Christian denominations.

The response from within the church.

And a few thoughts on interruptions.

Be Informed.

The interruption.

This was the year. Homosexual activists within the church had dreamed and worked for the day that they could set aside old norms and beliefs---biblical Truth, restructure their ministry, and ordain homosexual and lesbian pastors.

Biblical conservatives within the church who hold to what the Bible actually says about the behavior---and what John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church preached and taught, have said they will not revise Scripture to accommodate the culture.

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and it prohibits same-sex marriages and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

The world conference was originally scheduled for May. It has now been rescheduled for August 29--September 7, 2021. A year and a half from now.

The venue for the 2021 conference will be the Minneapolis Convention Center, which was the original venue for this year.

So many things in life come as interruptions. How do you plan for a virus pandemic? Or riots? You don't.

The Methodist plan to split the church.

The plan is known as "Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation" which among other things will allocate $25 million for Methodists who support biblical teaching on homosexuality. The money is essentially allocated to help them leave the UMC and form their own denomination.

Which they call a conservative, "traditionalist" Methodist denomination.

The "Protocol" was drafted by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across the theological divide.

The response to the interruption.

Many United Methodist leaders see the interruption as a blessing, allowing more time and cooler heads to consider the split. But some have also expressed concern over continuing harm in the denomination eager to move on after decades of debate over the role of LGBTQ Christians in the church.

Most news from the denomination says that Methodists understand this postponement isn't just kicking the can down the road in regard to this issue.

The biblical Methodists, from all I've read, are pretty resolute about their commitment to biblical teaching. Enough to give up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of church properties around the world for a $25 million resettlement allowance.

"Reconciling Ministries" is one of the pro-LGBTQ organizations that have worked tirelessly to redefine and split the United Methodist Church from within the church.

Jan Lawrence is the executive director of the LGBTQ-affirming Reconciling Ministries Network.

While saying she understands why the postponement was necessary, she says, "As a movement, we took a deep breath."

Continuing, she says her group "absolutely" understands the delay, but "the harm is immense" to LGBTQ United Methodists. She's asking for a moratorium on the ban on homosexual clergy.

Before this split can even take place, there is already a division within the LGBTQ segment of the church.

Rev. Alex da Silva Souto is a co-convener of the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus. He says his group doesn't want to be called "progressives", they want to be known as "liberationists", so they are connecting with the "moderates" in Methodism which may require a third church denomination be started.

In stark contrast:

Rev. Keith Boyette---president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, supports the protocol and plans to join the biblical Methodists as soon as the split is completed. He says there are mixed responses from his churches about the delay, but he is very hopeful.

He references the biblical teaching on "hope delayed and deferred"--a very different response than that of the "anxious homosexuals."

He has spoken often of the tremendous opportunities he sees when the two biblically committed church denominations join in a common mission.

The common mission?

"The Great Commission."

To reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ---as Christ commissioned His church to do.

While the UMC, and perhaps the Wesleyan Covenant Association, is paying a significant price to separate themselves from the apostasy within their own church, they believe they are walking through a threshold of what may well be the greatest opportunity of ministry since the days of John Wesley.

Regarding interruptions.

Jesus was interrupted while teaching in a house---suddenly the ceiling was falling in and four men lowered their friend right into the room---we know that was the day the lame man and his friends had prayed for.

Jesus slipped away from the crowds when he found out that John the Baptist had been beheaded, only to be interrupted by the crowds.

Jesus was interrupted by blind Bartimaeus on the road to Jericho---even when He slept in a boat with His friends who panicked. He was interrupted when He was eating with the Pharisees, and on and on---in fact, His interruptions were sometimes interrupted.

Jesus was, Himself, an interrupter.

This is a great time to ask ourselves during this greatest "interruption" in our lifetime, "What may God be wanting to say to me, direct me to do, direct me go---or simply want me to become?

With our country now beginning to reopen, but still shut down, and our cities further shut down by rioting, what would the Lord be speaking to our hearts?

CS Lewis wrote this:
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all unpleasant things as interruptions of one's own or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls interruptions are precisely one's real life---the life that God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination."

Put another way: "Be still and know that I am God."

Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.