Category : Methodist

(ACNS) Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has debated proposals that could see it enter into a full communion agreement, including the interchange of ministries, with the Church of England. The proposals are contained in a report “Mission and Ministry in Covenant”, which was published last year. The C of E’s General Synod debated the report in February, and called for additional work to be undertaken on it. This morning (Monday), the Methodist Church adopted similar motion at its annual conference, which is meeting this week in Nottingham.

The proposals would see future Presidents of Conference being ordained as bishops in the apostolic succession and have the title President Bishop. As Methodist Presbyters in Britain are ordained by the Conference, this would mean that, should the proposals be accepted, future Presbyters would be ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. The C of E is being asked to recognise existing Methodist Presbyters, who haven’t been ordained in the apostolic succession, as a “bearable anomaly” until, over time, all future Methodist presbyters are ordained under the new system replace those ordained under the existing system.

There is division in the Church of England’s House of Bishops about the proposals, which were formulated by the Faith and Order bodies of both churches. The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, addressed the Conference this morning and acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the C of E.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(JE) Ryan Danker–United Methodist Choices

To a Wesleyan believer, whether left or right, holy living is not optional. Perfect love casts out sin, but if we don’t know how to define sin, what is being cast out? What are we being saved from? And what is the empowering grace of God healing?

In the name of this newer vision of holiness, some have decided that they are no longer bound by the Discipline or the Judicial Council. This is schism. Let’s not mince words.

Some have turned away from their ordination vows. They’re tired of the battle. I get it. So am I. But they have undermined the truth-telling ability of the Church, torn our common covenant, and brought into question their own ability to tell the truth.

Some are calling for a “local option.” This is a denial of Methodism itself, not only structurally as a connectional body, but a denial of holiness, that relativizes the Christian life based on geography or local interests.

Wesley flatly denied this approach in his sermon “Catholic Spirit.” Leeway was to be given for opinions and manner of worship, but not to basic questions of how a Christian is to live. He writes against those who “are for jumbling all opinions together,” and writes, “you have quite missed your way: you know not where you are.” He describes an indifference to opinions as “a great curse, not a blessing; an irreconcilable enemy, not a friend, to true catholicism.”

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Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Good News’ Statement on the Council of Methodist Bishops Decision on how to proceed given the Crisis over the new Sexual Ethics

Good News applauds the Council’s decision to include a Traditionalist Plan in their report. “We are glad the bishops will submit an option that represents the mainstream majority of the church,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News. “This puts the Traditionalist Plan rightfully on an equal footing to be considered by the delegates to the special session along with the bishops’ preferred plan, the One Church Plan, which has been repeatedly rejected by the General Conference in the past. We believe the Traditionalist Plan holds the most hope for a fruitful future for The United Methodist Church.”

While the Council press release declared that a “majority of the Council of Bishops recommends the One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church,” it acknowledged “there is support for each of the three plans within the Council.” According to the release: “While the bishops recommended the One Church Plan they affirmed that the Connectional Conference Plan and the Traditionalist Plan held values that are important to the life and work of the church.”

The most disappointing news coming out of the meeting is that the full details of the plans and accompanying legislative proposals will be released “no later than July 8.”

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Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(UMNS) Methodist Bishops propose plan for Way Forward amidst debate over the New Sexual Ethic for Christians

To find a way forward on the denomination’s homosexuality debate, bishops are recommending the church allow more freedom at the conference and local church levels.

Under what the Council of Bishops calls the One Church Plan, decisions about whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy or to officiate at same-gender unions would be made closer to the congregational level.

The plan would remove the restrictive language against the practice of homosexuality in the Book Discipline, the denomination’s policy book. The plan also adds assurances to pastors and conferences who in good conscience cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy that they don’t have to do so. Central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — could maintain current restrictions.

The plan “encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions,” said the bishops’ press release.

While the majority of bishops recommend the One Church Plan, the bishops also will submit two additional plans to the special General Conference on Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis. All three possibilities had support among some of the bishops.

The other two plans on the table are:

  • The Traditionalist Plan would affirm the current language in the denomination’s Book of Discipline, the denomination’s governing document, and seek to strengthen enforcement.
  • The Connectional-Conference plan would allow conferences to choose among three connectional conferences for affiliation. The connectional conferences would align based on theology or perspective on LGBTQ ministry — be it traditionalist, progressive or allowing for a variety of approaches. This plan would require multiple amendments to the denomination’s constitution.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Good News) Rob Renfroe on the United Methodist Crisis over the new Sexual Morality–Respect or Contempt

The bishops have reported that three plans have been put before them. One would strengthen the church’s present position against homosexual practice and would allow progressive churches to leave the denomination. Another, often referred to as “the local option,” would let individual pastors determine whether they will marry gay couples, and each annual conference would be free to determine if it will ordain practicing homosexuals. A third option would create three branches within the UM Church, each with a different sexual ethic, ranging from thoroughly progressive to fully conservative (the latter of which is actually nothing more than maintaining the church’s present position).

The details of the third option have not been made public, probably because they have not been fully determined. And they have probably not been determined because they are numerous and challenging. How will churches and pastors decide which of the three branches they will join? What if there are more fully committed progressive pastors than there are progressive churches willing to receive them? What if there are more progressive bishops than there are progressive annual conferences – must conservative conferences accept a bishop whose sexual ethic is different than its own? Will all churches be expected to pay apportionments to national boards that promote policies contrary to their beliefs? Can a conservative conference live with a partnered lesbian bishop on the Council that oversees the entire church? Or must there be three different councils? This third “multi-branch” option cannot be the plan Bishop Ough had in mind when he called for a plan that was simple rather than complex, with little ambiguity, and few disciplinary changes.

Where does that leave us? Option one – a more tightly-enforced Book of Discipline and liberal churches exiting the denomination – will never be recommended by a Council that leans left and largely believes we need to liberalize the church’s position (there are notable exceptions within the Council). The only plan remaining and the one Bishop Ough seems to be suggesting is the “local option.” Annual conferences vote. Pastors make their own decisions. The church stays together. And it’s done. Simple and with little ambiguity.

Except for one small detail. It will create schism, not unity. At its first national conference in Chicago, October 2016, with over 1400 pastors in attendance, The Wesleyan Covenant Association approved a statement that said, “A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and understanding of Scripture, including any form of the “local option” around ordination and marriage, will not be acceptable to the members of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, stands little chance of passing General Conference, would not definitively resolve our conflict, and would, in fact, lead to the fracturing of the church.” Good News sent a similar statement to the Commission on a Way Forward. So did the Confessing Movement. So did UM Action.

I’m not troubled that the Council might recommend a plan that conservatives disagree with. I expect they will. What does disturb me is that it appears the Council will propose a plan that all of the denomination’s conservative leaders have said will fracture the church and lead to a mass exodus. Why would it do that?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(UMNS) Time running short as Methodist bishops gather in Dallas to try to sort through contradictory views of same-sex unions

The 32-member commission, which last met in January, has suggested three different frameworks for the church’s future.

A traditionalist model would maintain the church’s official stances on homosexuality, which declare the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching, preclude clergy from officiating at same-sex unions and prohibit the ordination of self-professed practicing gay clergy.

This model also would emphasize accountability and enforcement of relevant church law.

A centrist model would remove the Book of Discipline’s restrictive language, allowing conferences to decide how inclusive to be, while protecting clergy who could not, as a matter of conscience, perform a same-sex union or support ordination of openly gay clergy.

A third option foresees multiple branches of the denomination sharing a General Conference and certain agency functions. One branch might favor the traditionalist approach, another the centrist, with a third opting for full inclusion of LGBTQ individuals.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Church Investors group announces a harder line on Annual General Meeting voting policy

The CIG has tightened its voting policy in three main areas:

Executive pay

The CIG will review fairness in the workplace and will withdraw support for remuneration reports where pay ratios are not disclosed, Chief Executive pensions are excessive, or where financial services or pharmaceutical companies do not pay the living wage.

Gender diversity

CIG members will now vote against the re-election of nomination committee chairs where the board has less than 33% women and it will vote against all directors on the nomination committee where less than 25% of board directors are women.

Climate change

CIG members now vote against the re-election of the company chair when a company is making little progress to transition to a low carbon world….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Tim Tennant–Uniting Methodists Document and the Local Option (Part IV): What is the New Testament Teaching on sexual morality?

But, for now, it is clear that the Uniting Methodists document requires that we consider all of the language around sexual immorality in the New Testament as either generic, non-specific or only referring to a very tiny slice of sexual immorality; namely, pederasty. Yet, as we have seen, the exegetical case for this is not defensible. If we are being asked to sign off on this option and “agree to disagree” on this issue, then we will need to have a much better conversation about the biblical data which pertains to this question.

I, for one, remain completely unconvinced by the progressive argument and am actually disappointed that they would argue so strongly about their commitment to biblical authority and yet provide no serious exegetical argument for the dramatic changes they wish to usher into the life and faith of the church. To move a named sin from a New Testament “sin list” and declare that we are now to regard it as a sacrament is unprecedented. Christians have every right to resist this doctrinal innovation which is being embraced by a few declining mainline denominations in the western world.

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Posted in Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(JE) John Lomperis–Not much Centrism in “Uniting Methodists’” Agenda on Sexual Morality

All of this to say, on the most prominent controversy within our denomination, this so-called “Methodist middle” group is actually exclusively aligned with one minority faction. As one of its leadership team members admitted, “Clearly, I am not ‘in the middle’ or ‘on the fence’ with regard to this struggle which is threatening to split the United Methodist Church.” The same is evidently true for all of this group’s leaders, given the platform they all signed onto.

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Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mott

O God, the shepherd of all, we offer thanks for the lifelong commitment of thy servant John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world; and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ, in whom alone is our peace; and who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Education, Methodist, Spirituality/Prayer, Young Adults

(Good News) 2 Large Congregations Exit Methodism

The largest local church in the Mississippi Annual Conference in terms of worship attendance and one of the 25 fastest growing churches in the U.S. has now officially exited The United Methodist Church. According to lead pastor Bryan Collier, The Orchard Church (Tupelo) reached a settlement with conference leaders that made its departure official as of May 19, 2017….

“There was just no question among [The Orchard’s] leaders that this was right move for us,” said Collier. “Our departure was not about the homosexuality issue per se, but about the general church’s inability to deal with it. Unfortunately, its failure became an enormous distraction to the kingdom work our congregation is called to do.”

“The Orchard fully embraces, as it does with all people, its need to minister to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and with their families and friends as well,” said Collier. “But the denomination was not helping us do that. The Judicial Council’s recent, convoluted decision is emblematic of [the UM Church’s] inability to put the disagreement to rest. We didn’t want to let this one issue distract us anymore. We know the arguments on both sides, we’re clear in our hearts and minds where we stand, and we’re prepared to move forward accordingly.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Bromleigh McCleneghan on the recent decision of the United Methodist Court about a Bishop Married to her Same-Sex Partner

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Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(Christian Today) Same-Sex Partnered Methodist Bishop defiant in the wake of challenge to her election

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Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(GR) Richard Ostling–After crucial ruling against a Bishop Married to her female partner, what now for United Methodists?

In recent years, the “Seven Sisters” of the old mainline Protestant world have not been making as much news as they have in the past, at least as evidenced in the annual “top stories” polls conducted by the Religion News Assocition.

However, it’s likely that 2017’s religion story of the year will be the April 28 United Methodist Church (UMC) ruling that the western region improperly consecrated Karen Oliveto as a bishop and she should be removed. Reason: as an openly married lesbian, she violated church law and her ordination vows.

That Judicial Council edict produced typically sure-footed stories by The Religion Guy’s former AP colleague Rachel Zoll (The San Francisco Chronicle ran wire copy even though Oliveto led a big local church!) and Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times (a rare treat that this fine, neglected scribe gets 34 inches atop A18!). United Methodist News’s Linda Bloom was a must-read (maxim: always check such official outlets plus independent caucuses left and right.)

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Posted in Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)