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Deadworm

Recent Epic United Methodist Conference on Sexual Orientation

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From Feb. 23-26 a special global General UMC Conference was convened to settle a long festering dispute over gay/ lesbian marriage and ordination, which is prohibited in the denomination's Book of Discipline, which is the guidebook for UMC church polity and for UMC ethical and social values.  New ordinands are required to read and promise to obey the Book of Discipline, but many in progressive U. S. regional conferences have defied its prohibitions and have sanctioned gay marriages and ordinations.  Church judicial courts have then refused to discipline offending conferences and presiding ministers.   There were 3 proposals for discussion that were in need of a vote: (1) the Simple Plan that would simply excise all restrictions on same-sex marriage and ordination from the Book; (2) the One Church Plan that would allow individual churches to decide whether to sanction same-sex marriage and to accept gay or lesbian clergy (the plan advanced by our Council of Bishops); (3) the Traditional Plan, which would maintain and even strengthen the Book's current prohibitions and enforce punitive discipline on offending conferences, bishops, and ministers.  The stakes were high for American Chrisianity because the United Methodist Church is our second largest Protestant denomination and numbers almost 13 million globally.  As a recently retired UMC pastor, I was riveted to the livestream of the proceedings because of their inevitable impact on the future of my former church.  

Same-sex marriage and ordination have been approved in other progressive American denominations: Episcopalian, Presbyterian USA, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran.  But the UMC is a global denomination, and so, its policy-making conferences have delegates from around the world.  While the American church is experiencing a slow, steady decline in membership, there the African church has been growing in leaps and bounds and is overwhelmingly conservative evangelical.  Church growth ,means  more delegates!  In many of the countries represented, same-sex sexual relations are not only considered immoral; they are illegal and subject imprisonment.  So the Traditional Plan won the day and seismic schism now seems inevitable as our progressive churches deal with the new ultimatum to comply.

What bothered me were some of the immature snarly and insulting progrsssive speeches of the progressive speeches in the debates, points of order, and proposed amendments for each plan.  The Conference had begun with a great worship service and with repeated subsequent speeches by bishops urging delegates to be orderly and respectful of opposing viewpoints.  The bishops often led the delegates in prayer for harmony during the various legislative proposals.  But as it slowly became apparent that the conservatives had the upper hand, the progressive delegates became haughty, snarly, and insulting, and their mikes sometimes had to be cut off by the presiding bishop to mute their offensive language.  It became obvious that progressive delegates were trying to stall the vote on the Traditional Plan indefinitely with endless amendment proposals and points of order.  One minister delegate stepped to a mike and helf up several sheets of amendment forms, shouting, "I have enough amendments to prevent you from voting until you have to vacate the Convention Center!"  After the decisive vote, progressive delegates tried to sabotage the rest of the resolutions with their loud singing and chanting, but the meeting continued with loud mikes!  Then conference ended with a worship service, but several police had to be sent to quell threatening violence by irate progressives.  Some worship service!  I am anxious but eager to see how the inevitable schism will now unfold.

 

Edited by Deadworm

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47 minutes ago, Deadworm said:

From Feb. 23-26 a special global General UMC Conference was convened to settle a long festering dispute over gay/ lesbian marriage and ordination, which is prohibited in the denomination's Book of Discipline, which is the guidebook for UMC church polity and for UMC ethical and social values.  New ordinands are required to read and promise to obey the Book of Discipline, but many in progressive U. S. regional conferences have defied its prohibitions and have sanctioned gay marriages and ordinations.  Church judicial courts have then refused to discipline offending conferences and presiding ministers.   There were 3 proposals for discussion that were in need of a vote: (1) the Simple Plan that would simply excise all restrictions on same-sex marriage and ordination from the Book; (2) the One Church Plan that would allow individual churches to decide whether to sanction same-sex marriage and to accept gay or lesbian clergy (the plan advanced by our Council of Bishops); (3) the Traditional Plan, which would maintain and even strengthen the Book's current prohibitions and enforce punitive discipline on offending conferences, bishops, and ministers.  The stakes were high for American Chrisianity because the United Methodist Church is our second largest Protestant denomination and numbers almost 13 million globally.  As a recently retired UMC pastor, I was riveted to the livestream of the proceedings because of their inevitable impact on the future of my former church.  

Same-sex marriage and ordination have been approved in other progressive American denominations: Episcopalian, Presbyterian USA, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran.  But the UMC is a global denomination, and so, its policy-making conferences have delegates from around the world.  While the American church is experiencing a slow, steady decline in membership, there the African church has been growing in leaps and bounds and is overwhelmingly conservative evangelical.  Church growth ,means  more delegates!  In many of the countries represented, same-sex sexual relations are not only considered immoral; they are illegal and subject imprisonment.  So the Traditional Plan won the day and seismic schism now seems inevitable as our progressive churches deal with the new ultimatum to comply.

What bothered me were some of the immature snarly and insulting progrsssive speeches of the progressive speeches in the debates, points of order, and proposed amendments for each plan.  The Conference had begun with a great worship service and with repeated subsequent speeches by bishops urging delegates to be orderly and respectful of opposing viewpoints.  The bishops often led the delegates in prayer for harmony during the various legislative proposals.  But as it slowly became apparent that the conservatives had the upper hand, the progressive delegates became haughty, snarly, and insulting, and their mikes sometimes had to be cut off by the presiding bishop to mute their offensive language.  It became obvious that progressive delegates were trying to stall the vote on the Traditional Plan indefinitely with endless amendment proposals and points of order.  One minister delegate stepped to a mike and helf up several sheets of amendment forms, shouting, "I have enough amendments to prevent you from voting until you have to vacate the Convention Center!"  After the decisive vote, progressive delegates tried to sabotage the rest of the resolutions with their loud singing and chanting, but the meeting continued with loud mikes!  Then conference ended with a worship service, but several police had to be sent to quell threatening violence by irate progressives.  Some worship service!  I am anxious but eager to see how the inevitable schism will now unfold.

 

The UMC made a fundamental error when they adopted a social/political framework for the discussion instead of a spiritual one.

 

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Bo, the debate also stressed Jesus' teaching on marriage as between a man and a woman and biblical perspectives in general.  It's just that some African speakers stressed that same-sex sect acts were illegal in their countries.  Russian delegates from predominantly Muslim provinces  warned that persecution forced them to worship In secret, that their whole society was anti-gay, and that UMC approval of same-sex marriage and ordination would lead to  the end of their ability to worship as Methodists in their countries.

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I was a candidate for Elder in the UMC, and I found theology of marriage and sexual morality were absent.  

Homosexuality is more of a distraction than an issue.  The denomination will not schism, as that implies growth on both sides. It's a matter of how the UMC disintegrates and who gets the money and property.

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