Should be read by every DCOM and candidate in the UMC

John the former Methodist has posted a long and painful summary of his thoughts about the UMC and the candidacy process. Every DCOM and candidate for ministry should read it. It should be talked about by men and women in positions of authority.

Don’t get caught up in being defensive or noting where he is lashing out. Ask yourself whether it resonates with things you’ve heard before?

There is much more anger and edge here, but I can hear echoes of things I’ve heard out of the mouths of candidates and clergy.

Please note: This is not a defense of John’s possition or argument. I do not know the facts. It appears he has enlisted in the service of other gods. But the pain with which he rages out appear to be real.

We often hear hints and suggestions that “there are problems” with the ordination process. I believe we just voted in committee to push back consideration of substantial changes for another four years while we think about it more.

John’s post might represent an idiosyncratic experience, but I hear and read enough muttered comments about the system to suspect it has much in common with the experiences of many.

John’s description of his experience may be one-sided; it is certainly not charitable to those who he feels have wronged him. His report may even be wrong. But tell me you have not heard candidates and young clergy who say things that hint of some of the things he is raging about here.

And if there are problems in the ordination and clergy accountability systems, can there be any doubt that we have deep problems throughout the church?

Can we ask hard and truthful questions about our own polity? Do we?

Is true discernment going on? Is true accountability in place? Do we speak the truth? Is the structure serving the mission of the church?

Do we talk about these questions enough?

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5 thoughts on “Should be read by every DCOM and candidate in the UMC

  1. And if there are problems in the ordination and clergy accountability systems, can there be any doubt that we have deep problems throughout the church?

    No.

    Can we ask hard and truthful questions about our own polity?

    No.

    Do we?

    Only at great peril.

    Is true discernment going on? Is true accountability in place? Do we speak the truth? Is the structure serving the mission of the church?

    Do we talk about these questions enough?

    No, no, no, no, no, and finally, no.

    Yesterday, I received in the mail Bishop Ward’s response to my complaint against Bishop Whitaker. I had crafted a detailed, five-page explanation of exactly how Whitaker had violated the Discipline in several ways, as well as proven ineffective in ministry. Her response was to dismiss the complaint in one sentence, without a single word of explanation as to why.

    There is no “Church” as a mystical concept. There is body of believers led by a holy spirit. Christianity is simply an idea shared, to varying degrees, by various people in an organization. Some people may exploit it for personal gain. Others may come to truly buy into the appealing figure of Christ. Like any organization, some members of the Church are crooks and some are decent.

    I almost dashed out an e-mail to Bishop Ward asking for a detailed explanation as to why my arguments from the Discipline were deemed wrong, and how she and her fellow robed gangsters arrived at their decision.

    But I stopped. It’s time to stop. Time to move forward at a more aggressive clip out of Christianity and into spiritual freedom. Time to be more accepting of my losses.

    I could have handled everything differently. I could have simply slunk away as some rejected candidates do: silently and without complaint. But I wanted to know for sure whether or not the UMC was a Christian institution.

    Because I tested the Church with its own words and its own teachings, and pushed all the way to the very top of the leadership; because these senior-most leaders responded so harshly, savagely, and completely unapologetic in their abuse of power…I have a little more peace.

    I have said that I will never set foot inside of a church again. And everytime a bishop responds to my pleas with total disregard for Christian teaching, the plain language of the Discipline, or their own words, I add another “never” to that statement. Because they have displayed so openly, so brazenly, so consciously, such profound evil, I can know with absolute certainty that the Church is a fraud.

    I won’t ever wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself “Did I cause this? Did I misunderstand them? Is there any reason to think that these bishops and pastors were acting in good faith?”

    Hmm. Perhaps I should sent Bishop Ward a thank-you note for making it easier to leave Christianity altogether.

  2. I am saddened that the bishop did not provide a more satisfactory answer.

    What was the one sentence?

  3. Here it is:

    It is our determination that The Book of Discipline has not been violated by Bishop Whitaker who dismissed your complaint with the consent of eight district superintendents of The Florida Conference

    Her response is a non sequitur. Bishop Whitaker refused to process my complaint. It was his refusal to do so that constituted my complaint. I also specifically complained about his anti-pastoral behavior in this process, which, again, Bishop Ward simply has ignored.

    Above all, the mob leaders of the United Methodist Church simply do not want to address what happened at Lake Butler. They refuse to discuss it with me in any forum or manner.

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