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Conservatives Seeking To Split The Umc?!

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I'm not sure what to make of this. As I've read the press releases that this group has put out I see statements like "We are scripturally based and Christ-centered" and then the alarmingingly patronizing assumption that the conservative split would retain the United Methodist name while the "liberal" group would not. I'm also alarmed by the statements that debate over homosexuality consumes too much of the GC time, when there are more fundamental and important issues to be discussing. What could be more missional and fundamental than the sacred worth of persons? I have to say that even more than the votes to retain the UM stance on homosexuality, this movement by the evangelicals consititues a horrendous violence toward GLBT persons in the church.


Did anyone listen to the streaming audo yesterday morning including the "witness" by GLBT support groups. I have to admit that I sat here with tears streaming down my face. My biggest hope for this denomination is the Young People at conference who have vowed to "take back their church" Halleluia!



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As I was listening to the streaming audio this morning, there was a presentation by Rev. Hinson and someone else (I didn't catch the name) Basically, they presented that the idea of an amicable split was just one of several that were informally discussed at some impromptu meetings which included a variety of persons from differing viewpoints. According to the presenters, the papers were never meant to be distributed to the delegates.


There was a subsequent motion to adopt a resolution that declared the Unity of the church. That was overwhelmingly passed.


As I listened to the conservative presenters try to explain the mayhem that has obviously occurred at GC, I was struck by how different their tone was than from what I have been reading in the press.



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What struck me as odd was that Bill Heidenger and the other conservatives aligned with the Good News movement are here encouraging a church split while for years, the Good News organization has had statements on their publications and letters, etc. stating "please don't leave this great church, etc.." Not sure what to make of this change of face. Heck, the conservatives even got their way on the homosexuality issue at General Conference, what beef should they have with the progressives?

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Heck, the conservatives even got their way on the homosexuality issue at General Conference, what beef should they have with the progressives?

I think the beef is that they're tired of spending so much time and energy on this issue during General Conference and also in the interim (i.e. Karen Damman trial, et. al) I think they discern that the issue will never be settled. Let's face it, even if GC went out on a limb and reversed it's position on homosexuality, the evangelicals would be right back protesting away. This could go on ad nauseum.


Another think that struck me as odd is the "divorce" language that's being used when I would think that these very evangelicals are some of the most outspoken against marital divorce. It seems that, to them, divorce should not be an option for the marriage covenant, but it's okay for the church covenant?

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  • 2 weeks later...

From a mass emai I received today:


Attached and copied below, you will find “An Open Letter to the Rev. Bill Hinson” written by The Rev. Gary Keene, Assistant to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and pastor of Holliston UMC. The letter was written by Gary in response to actions by Bill Hinson (president of the Confession Movement) during the recently completed General Conference. It was sent to several national publications, both ecumenical and United Methodist, and it may be printed soon in one or more major periodicals.


After receiving a copy of Gary’s letter on Tuesday morning, Mary and Louis (after conferring with several of you on the MFSA Cal-Pac Steering Committee) took immediate action on your behalf to contact Gary to assure him of MFSA’s support in his efforts to “speak the truth”. Louis has talked with Gary several times in the last few days and we fully expect these very productive conversations to continue. As visible evidence of MFSA support for Gary’s decision to write about and publish his reactions to Hinson’s all too obvious campaign to further fracture the UMC, we have asked Gary (on your behalf) to accept our invitation to be the speaker at our 2004 Mildred Hutchinson Award Luncheon on Saturday, June 19. He has accepted this invitation! (Good thing that, thanks to Theresa, we are going to be at Redlands First UMC where we can accommodate an overflow crowd!)


Friends, this is only the first of several emails that will be coming your way over the next few days as, together, we continue the process begun last Friday of debriefing what really happened in Pittsburgh. Recognizing that words and/or written reports alone are a very inadequate substitute for having actually been an “on the spot” witness to what may well have been one of the most important General Conferences in recent history, we will continue this ‘debriefing” effort. We hope others of you will contribute to this effort. There is no question but that what we do here in the Western Jurisdiction, individually and collectively, over the coming months and years will have a profound effect upon our denomination The entire church will be watching us as well as those United Methodists on the extreme right within our denomination who have already proclaimed that they will launch a grass-roots campaign to dispatch teams of "renewal" ministers - clergy and lay - throughout the country to bring about a split in the UMC; this despite the overwhelming vote in Pittsburgh against efforts at fracturing the church.


Peace be with you all. But also remember the words Dr. James Forbes, Jr. taught us to sing (in rap tempo) in Pittsburgh:


Pardon Me! I don’t mean to be uncouth.


But I just want to know the truth.


Tell me what time it is?


(everyone claps twice)




Mary T. Larson




An Open Letter to the Rev. Bill Hinson


Dear Rev. Hinson,


I write to you as a fellow baptized Christian and ordained elder. I write to you as pastor to pastor, and as one present at General Conference in Pittsburgh, and present at your press conference there. I write to you as one disappointed, surprised, ashamed, and angered at your words and actions as a United Methodist pastor.


Jesus said, “To whom much has been given, much shall be expected.” You have been given the tremendous gift, burden and opportunity of significant leadership in our church, first as pastor of the largest church in the denomination, and now as president of the Confessing Movement. To use the pulpit of nationally visible leadership to preach division of the church is disappointing; to claim that the response to your remarks was “surprising” to you is disingenuous at least. And to claim you “only speak for yourself” but then turn around and say you expect the board of the Confessing Movement to support you, reveals the hypocrisy of your words. The underlying tactics of pre-releasing your speech to the press only confirms your premeditation: you spoke for effect, and you got it. Do not pretend it was not intentional.


You have further used the gift of leadership to speak other untruths, not of perspective, but of reality: you claim the church is broken over the issue of homosexuality, and that the church in the West desires to be separate. You have put your words in the mouths of others, and then falsely claimed those as the basis for your own. First, “The West” is not the source of contention on the issue of homosexuality: it is a broad strata of Christians within the church, only some of whom are not kept silent by the threatened loss of career opportunities and other punitive tactics employed by the majority to silence them. By your own accounting, “we” have garnered 300 votes to do things “our way,” a number which far exceeds the votes of the Western Jurisdiction. This is not an issue of the West, but of the whole church and its future. Secondly, neither “the West” nor others have introduced division to the dialogue, you have: those who support the abolition of sexually- based prejudice have stayed at the table of Christian conferencing for 30 years—and will continue to do so.


Why? Because although homosexuality is the point of disagreement today, it is only a contemporary symptom of a malaise as old as our faith. From the beginning, faithful people have disagreed about who is in and who is out: tax collectors and prostitutes, Jews, Greeks, Gentiles and slaves, circumcised and uncircumcised, non-whites and women, even youth and laity in terms of voting rights within the church. For a time, each of these exclusions was successful: even as you trumpet the success of the church in maintaining “incompatibility,” so it was that racism and sexism were successful in their time. That time is coming to an end, and rightfully, justly so.


Justice also demands that you be called to account for claiming equitable pain on both sides of this issue, that we should “end this cycle of pain we are inflicting on each other.” Tell me Rev. Hinson, what “pain” do you feel because of the sexual orientation of others, and where is that on the spectrum that is anchored on the other end by Matthew Shepherd’s body crucified on a fence rail? There is no pain for heterosexuals in any of this; instead we enjoy the benefit of fatuous complacency under girded by current laws. This persistent lament that homosexual relationships “threaten” us reveals a shallow faith: true faith can be neither given nor taken away. Therefore it needs no defense, and cannot be threatened.


To put it plainly: sexual behavior is secondary to faith in God. As president of the Confessing Movement, you are perpetuating the human immaturity of needing to draw boundaries to your own benefit. In contrast, God sent Christ as the emblem of reconciliation, not division.


This divisive attitude is most evident and most shocking in your statement that, you have “no desire to be the chaplain to an increasingly godless society. Rather our desire is to be faithful to the Word of God.” This is an almost inconceivable repudiation of the purpose of every baptized Christian, and thereby the mission of the church. Rev. Hinson, would you simply close the doors and preach to the choir? Or is that not what has already happened? Could it be that this very attitude has so pervaded our church that it is the cause of our general decline? Do you imagine that others cannot see and sense this “dark heart of judgment” that contradicts the very purpose of God’s incarnation, thus rendering false your every claim to be compassionate? Compassion yes, but judgment first: is that the story Jesus told about the prodigal son?


Finally and most damning, the division you are simultaneously claiming and creating is ultimately not about the well-being or continuity of the church: it is a vicious distraction aimed at rendering the church silent and irrelevant on the issues of the day. The church is called to be a voice of truth for the powerless to the powerful; a witness of compassion amidst the sin of petty judgment and exclusion. The call of the people of God is to testify to a different way of being in the world, not to mimic its political machinations. The more you emphasize homosexuality and division, the more the church forfeits its authority to speak to poverty and injustice. Insofar as you participate in this and give leadership to it, either you have sold out, or you have been duped: which is it?


General Conference will come again, and we will all be at the table. In the meantime, I ask you this: how are you using your leadership to help the church move into God’s future, instead of anchoring it in the cloistered, ossified, punitive, divisive and declining past you now represent?




Rev. Gary M. Keene

California-Pacific Annual Conference

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  • 6 months later...

This is just my personal opinion..but I feel that once the fundamental voices outnumber the progressive ones in a church..then it is time to break off and start a whole another church. One thing about United Methodist that is 'different' from D of C and Episcopalian is that it is not ritualisitic. What i meanis that UM does not have the chants, robes ect that Eps does. Naturally, many like the chants, robes,ect...'they' feel it is inspiring and that is fine..but many other Progressive do NOT care for this and thus why they might be drawn to UM as an alternative to this...myself included in this statement.


I never was inspired to really visit Episcopailan for the very reason that it IS ritualistic based and that simply is not my style..and thus why I tried visiting UM instead. I have also taked to a number of progressive individuals who have stated the same, including many homosexual individuals. There really is not a current alternative to UM...so maybe it IS time for one.

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This sounds a lot like what happened in the Southern Baptist Convention. Once the conservatives of the convention gained power and elected positions, some of the more moderate congregations broke away or remained affiliated with SBC, but banded together to achieve some common goals. There is a kind of ongoing tug of war going on between them, but the SBC is much bigger, more powerful. It is now virtually impossible for a moderate Southern Baptist to be elected to an office in the convention or to be involved in any type of decision making within it. I have been doing a lot of on line investigating about this because of the role the SBC played in re-electing the President. The things that I am reading about are not widely publicized to the rank and file SBC church members, of which I am one. It would be my guess that the rank and file UMC are unaware of what is going on within their own denomination in any detail.


God Bless,


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Yes, that is precisley what i was thinking..and my question is...once it becomes a fact that a church's majority is fundamental and the majority has embraced this fact..then like in Southern baptists..WHY would a progressive even WANT to be in that church anymore or indentified with it?

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A book has been spreading like wildfire across many UM congregations. It is being read by many lay and clergy persons. I've read it and, while it exposes some scary stuff, such exposure is just what's needed to nip this fundamentalit take over in the bud..




United Methodist Leaders Release Book Challenging Ultra-Conservatives

April 26, 2003


Right Wing Agenda Challenged in New Publication


Contact: Bishop C. Dale White, (401) 847-3419


Organizations leading an ultra-conservative effort to control and reshape The United Methodist Church to fit their agenda are the focus of a book released today by active United Methodist lay and clergy leaders. United Methodism at RISK: A Wake-Up Call shares extensive research to show who is behind the campaign to force the denomination into a narrow political and theological framework.


The book was published by the Information Project for United Methodists, co-chaired by Bishop C. Dale White, widely known for his leadership on peace issues, and New York attorney and well-known United Methodist lay leader Beth Capen. Veteran Christian journalist Leon Howell is the author. The books close to 200 pages detail the rise of conservative renewal groupswithin United Methodism and sister denominations, and link their activity to right-wing activity in society.


"All United Methodists need to read this book to be fully informed on the tactics, ideological bias and theological restrictions evidenced in the life and work of the conservative renewal groups," Bishop White said in announcing the books release. The direction they would take our church demeans clergy and laity, he said.


"It is insulting to the professional integrity of the clergy to dictate to them the precise theological language they must use in the pulpit and Bible studies," Bishop White said. "And its insulting to the laity to assume they cannot be trusted to engage in theological reflection and define their faith according to their own perceptions and conscience.


"United Methodists need to challenge the claim of these groups that they are true stewards of Scripture and the Wesleyan tradition. A careful reading of the New Testament and the works of John Wesley should convince discerning church members that the narrow ideological focus and questionable tactics of these groups violate the spirit of the Wesleyan revival."


Longtime active United Methodist laywoman Ruth Daugherty of Pennsylvania, a member of the board of the Information Project for United Methodists, shares Bishop Whites concern that people have accurate information about the conservative renewal groups and that dialogue remain open within the denomination.


I believe people should be able to ask questions about their faith, Ms. Daugherty said. We need to discuss what is at the heart of Scripture, what is at the very heart of Jesuslife. The United Methodist Church has always been a place where people can openly talk from different perspectives. We talk and pray together for discernment of what God is saying to us through Scripture. When we look at Jesusdisciples, we see he was very accepting of diversity.


The church should be similarly accepting, she said.


"For Christians, theres only one person who can say he is the truth," she said. "The rest of us are searching for the truth. None of us can say we have it."


Ms. Daugherty and Bishop White stressed the Information Project formed to research and publish the book. It is not to be an ongoing group.


"We are clergy and laity who came together out of concern forour church," Ms. Daugherty said. "We are not advocates for a particular position, and we are not a group representing various organizations. We simply wanted to get information, not accusations, out to United Methodists. We want people to read the book and raise questions."


Among conservative renewal groups named in United Methodism at RISK: A Wake-Up Call are Good News and its Renew Womens Network, the Institute on Religion and Democracy and its UM Action, the Mission Society for United Methodists, the Confessing Movement, Lifewatch, the Association for Church Renewal, A Foundation for Theological Education, Transforming Congregations, and the Coalition for United Methodist Accountability. The book details attacks from these groups on United Methodist Women and the Womens Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, and the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.


The book also:


Outlines funding sources that reveal the role of secular money in establishing and sustaining conservative renewal groups,

Shares stories of individuals who have been targeted by the groups,

Shows the impact of the groups on boards and agencies of the church that are working for social justice and inclusion of all Gods children,

Tracks the groupsanti-woman attitudes and efforts toward silencing women in church leadership,

Connects the conservative agenda and activity in United Methodism to similar activities in other denominations and beyond the church in political and global arenas, and

Offers action ideas to counter the concerted attacks on the integrity of the denomination by these groups.

Bishop White said he is involved as a leader of the Information Project for United Methodists because he believes the very heart and soul of United Methodism is at risk.


"All of us in this group are passionately committed to The United Methodist Church," he said. I affirm the right of all United Methodists to participate in shaping our church. I am not willing to allow any group to use intimidating tactics to force United Methodists to move lock step in line with its ideological bias. We must stop takeover of these groups that claim to be evangelical while making it more difficult to make and nurture disciples of Jesus Christ."




Copies of United Methodism at RISK: A Wake-Up Call can be ordered from the Information Project for United Methodists (IPUM). Inquiries for information may be emailed to ipum@aol.com.


Cost of the book is $12.50 (includes shipping and handling).




Copies of United Methodism at RISK: A Wake-Up Call can be ordered from The Genesis III Group. Their contact information is as follows:


The Genesis III Group

P.O. Box 336

Deerfield, NH 03037

Toll Free Phone: (888) 829-2947

Fax: (603) 463-5621

E-Mail: genthree@genesisthree.com


Checks should be made out to "MMH Ventures."

VISA and MASTERCARD are also accepted.


Click here to download the order form.


As stated above, the cost of the book is $12.50 (with shipping and handling). Please contact Genesis III for multiple copies.



See also:

United Methodism @ risk: A wake-up call

by Leon Howell


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It you look back at the United Methodists Church back in the Victorian days....it's roots seem very fundamental. I rember reading this Anne of Green Gables book, which was writen around 1909 and in it the writter spoke of how Anne visited a United Methodist church that her and her husband Gilbert did not like because the preacher kept harping on hellfire.


I personally don't know a whole lot on UMC..accept I tried visting one here in Ventura on Santa Clara street 2 years ago on Easter. They had just started an attempt at a contemporary service and there was only like 11 people there and it was held in the small chapel. I got the feeling that a a small group within this UMC wanted change..but that very few of the congergation's older majority cared to suppose this.

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1. The UMC wasn't created until 1968 via the merger of the Methodist Church and the United Evangelical Bretheran Church.


2. Anne of Green Gables is a work of historical fiction.


3. Methodists have never leaned toward fundamentalism - though they did emerge out of a Holiness movement - but the more conservative types split off to become the Salvation Army, the Church of the Nazarene, or the various independent Methodist denominations.

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" The UMC wasn't created until 1968 via the merger of the Methodist Church and the United Evangelical Bretheran Church."


This may explain the problem. My mother who is 75 said she was raised in United Bretheren in a German neighborhood of Kansas and said it was very fundamental in nature. She said it was not chrasimatic but they did harp alot on hellfire and the end coming. My mother left the church as a young adult and then started attended Luthern instead. Her father told her of this merging of United Breathern with United Methodists..but by that time she had long been out of that church. When i told my mom that I had read that UM was way liberal she said that she could not imagine United Breathern merging with a liberal church.

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I was SHOCKED to read people referring to the issue of homosexuality as peripheral or unimportant! In the church of our Lord Jesus Christ this is much more than an unimportant or peripheral issue. The homosexual lifestyle is an abomination to God. Now don't get me wrong -- I am not saying that homosexuals themselves are an abomination, I am saying the lifestyle and the act itself is an abomination.


The conservatives were right to consider seperation if the convention refused to reverse their decision. There are other issues as well that the church should stand firm upon.


Whatever the Lord has had written in His holy word is to be our guide for living. We should never sway nor compromise this standard.

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Rev, I'd like to encourage you to review the description of the various forums within this website. The Progressive Christianity forum is largely intended as a safe place for relatively like-minded, hindered progressive spirits to interact with each other. Its seen by many as a haven from the more conservative and fundamentalist "Christianity" bulletin boards and chat-rooms.


If you'd like to debate and/or try to persuade folks as to the merits of traditional conservative theology, I'd encourage you to do so on the Debates forum.


Thank you for your attention and respectful consideration.

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