The grass might only look greener over there

You know people are worn out by arguing when they start talking about separation.

I’ve seen this quite a bit in recent years. Before we get too enamored of such thoughts, we might want to engage in some serious conversation about how hard and messy it would be. I can only begin to imagine the complexities of it all.

For instance, I’ve heard more than once that the Western Jurisdiction could not afford to pay its own bishops if it did not have subsidy from other parts of the church. I don’t know where the data is that proves that, but if true, it makes me wonder how many other parts of the church depend on subsidies from other parts to keep up their ministry and financial obligations.

It gets much, much messier if we start looking at conferences and local congregations.

Before we start dreaming about how peaceful life would be after a separation, let’s make sure our eyes are wide open.

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19 thoughts on “The grass might only look greener over there

  1. There is one thing that recent statistics show. There are few more effective ways for a mainline denomination to lose members than to fight over sexual morality. However, one of them appears to be departing from our current position in that area. (See the recent history of The Episcopal Church.) If the UMC splits both parts will probably shrink quite a bit from where they are now.
    Another obvious point is that schism breeds schism. If we split over sexual morality, what other issues might one faction or the other split over. Factionalism was not a good idea when the “conservatives” talked about it in 2004. It is no better now that the “liberals” are advocating it. We need to learn to live in love and obedience even when we disagree.

  2. It does appear pensions are the main issue holding up a parting of the ways. I’ve not heard anyone in my circle wringing their hands at the prospect of denominational life bereft of GBCS.

    I believe the theological divide goes well deeper than sexuality and is largely centered on Christology, our relative views of the inspiration and nature of Scripture, etc. The discordance in our proclamation and the deep distrust between local congregations and the bureaucracy (as well as other issues) have caused a de facto split. By starting the hard work of sorting out the mess now, we would only be recognizing what functionally exists.

    My blood pressure and nerves can’t take much more. I’d like to stop having to engage in apologetics for the actions of others at every turn, and I think our liberal colleagues might enjoy having the orthodox albatross (as they see it) taken from around their necks.

    • Joe is right in recognizing the disfunctioning that now exists. I do not think the solution is surrender to fragmentism. The votes of General Conference continue to confirm the majority opinion, and the vocal minority continue to agitate. However, the difference is between loyal opposition with advocacy, and open defiance. Those who defy need clear discipline. Those who advocate should be listened to, and prayerfully considered. I see the General Conference votes moving in the direction of inclusion, but understand the frustration of some for more rapid change.

  3. You can read the blog sheets as the stormy petrels. I don’t see any letting up on the accelerator by vociferous radical advocates. More likely it will be “pedal to the metal” on the part of the most reckless. Some kind of denouement is presaged, perhaps. But what is it?

  4. Look at the ADCA for General Conference page 521 (Volume 2, Section 1, Finance and Administration A, The Episcopal Fund) which states that bishops in the USA cost $1.25 million per quadrennium. Five bishops in the Western Jurisdiction then would cost $1,562,500 per year ($1.25 million x 5 bishops / 4 years). But, the December 2012 Financial Commitment Report from GCFA shows that the WJ only paid $1,320,193 for the Episcopal Fund. So, that means they not only didn’t pay for their own bishops but also didn’t contribute a penny toward the central conference bishops nor the retirees. None of the other jurisdictions show that low level of financial commitment.

    Events like these
    http://umcconnections.org/2013/11/19/disruption-prompts-church-leaders-address-sexuality-issues/

    show that “compromise,” “mutual understanding,” much less “holy conferencing” are not the goal. Disruption only makes “sense” if either you believe the proceedings are illegitimate (not a peaceful gathering of a democratically elected body) or that you are doomed to lose and are down to your last effort. That is why the Tea Party disrupted congressional town halls and the Senate GOP filibusters everything because they are in the minority. These are not tactics that you use when you believe that victory is around the corner. The real issue is allowing gay clergy who lied during their ordination vows and have violated the Book of Discipline every day since to serve openly while keeping their apportionment-paid benefits. That certainly isn’t about to happen.

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