Polity expert calls for end of trials

The author of the standard textbook on United Methodist Polity issued a letter to Council of Bishops calling on them not to be “servile to the General Conference” and to bring an end to church trials.

I don’t have time today to write about it, but thought some of my readers might be interested in taking a look at at the story over at the UM Reporter.

The continuation of church trials is a disgrace to our heritage. It is divisive, bringing interference from interest groups outside the annual conference and introducing the language of “prosecution,” “defense team,” “conviction,” “judge,” and “jury” to our church as if we were all players in “Law and Order.” We are not considering criminal acts; we are deliberating about pastoral judgment. Trials are an exorbitant expense for a process that does no good for our church. Of course, any member of our church has the constitutional right to request a trial. But at this moment, I do not see other circumstances under which our church should be conducting them.


24 thoughts on “Polity expert calls for end of trials

  1. I don’t find Mr. Bebop’s comment very helpful. Maybe it’s born of a desire to be “wise as serpents,” but it encourages a suspicion that undermines our connection. If there are facts to support your assertion, please share them. There are many “good” people of sincere conviction who do not agree on these matters. Attributing the disagreement to base motives does not build up.
    God speaks to the inward being, and our efforts to be true to that calling can conflict with our denominational loyalty. There is no way around this. We can be frustrated that a person’s actions do violence to our denominational unity without casting them as sinister in motive.

    1. A documentary on divided church with UMC as the example
      Who is leading the church comes to mind.

      A Divided Church.

    2. Mark, if you do not serve within the precincts of a toxic culture, you probably can’t relate to what I’m saying. There IS a great deal of calculative reasoning behind current plays, and this needs to be said somewhere in the open (Ephesians 5:11). Not all the debate happens in the LIGHT. The charades of “holy conferencing” are happening, but so too the orchestrations.

  2. My heart has been so heavy all day. As I pray for John and those who are striving to follow Christ as well as those striving in error…..I feel so much sorrow so deep in my heart.

    The church is so influenced by secular culture that we think, talk and act in its image, instead of in the image of our Head, the Lord Jesus. Reading some of these responses reveal this so clearly. God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. I wonder if more time on our knees should be given to those who will be most impacted by this division……I’ve been in the midst of this before…… this will distress and dismay mature believers, disillusion new believers, cause havoc in the lives of pastors and their families, and bring reproach upon the name of Christ.

    This is not about a denomination…..church never was. This is about sifting out the tares that have polluted the wheat. It has never been comfortable when this occurs……but praise to All Mighty God that His grace and love towards His church compels Him to do so.

    Titus 2:11-13: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

    Humility ……humility…….

    and prayer.

  3. It is funny you would use that image today.
    I was reading Leslie Newbigin and wondering why it is all so important where the church stands.
    Newbigin reminded me God was given a face in Christ and the Christian Church is the Face of God to the whole world. Where ever Christians go Christ is seen.
    Then I remembered what the apostles faced. The Roman World was full of gods. Full of faces of gods.
    The Apostles would introduce to the world a New God. A better way They would introduce Christ.

    We, members of Christian Churches around the globe, are not like other religions and our God is not like any other god. When we act and do as the world does we are just another group of people worshiping some God that is no different than any other god offered. Nothing special. Nothing new.
    If that is how the world ends up defining the Christian Church it would be a true injustice to our God.

    A little wisdom from Leslie Newbigin
    ‘The commitment is not to a cause, or a program but to a person – at the heart of Christian mission must remain a commitment to serving Christ in his community’.

    “A just society can flourish only when it’s members acknowledge the justice of God, which is the justice manifested and enacted in the cross. If I do not acknowledge, a justice which judges the justice for which I fight, I am an agent, not of justice, but of lawless tyranny.”

    Leslie Newbigin
    Theologians, missiologists, and Christian thinkers.
    He was instrumental in bringing together the Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches from India, Pakistan, and Burma into one ecumenical denomination: the Church of South India.

    1. I too recall what the apostles faced in the Roman world……and even more I remember the words of Paul used to keep those who believed in unity….he admonished the church in Rome to behave decently, “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy” (Romans 13:13).

      He knew that the Church members then were influenced daily by an immoral culture……..and even greater wisdom from him was in knowing that one hour a week in church was wholly inadequate to counter the culture.

    2. “We, members of Christian Churches around the globe, are not like other religions and our God is not like any other god. When we act and do as the world does we are just another group of people worshiping some God that is no different than any other god offered. Nothing special. Nothing new”


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