Local option already here?

In a story from the Get Religion blog on the New York Times’ coverage of the Frank Schaefer refrocking, this paragraph jumped out at me:

Now, anyone who knows anything about United Methodist polity knows that it is dominated by what has — literally for decades — been a functional “local option” policy. There is no one United Methodist Church; there are several radically different bodies, with the content of the faith depending on where in the United States (and the world) one happens to live.

It reminds me of the “A Way Forward” Proposal.

The story also had a link to this interesting story about the 7 Churches of United Methodism.

6 thoughts on “Local option already here?

  1. That paragraph is exactly correct. Does anyone know what they’d be sure to find from a theological standpoint, were they to visit a UMC church while on vacation? When a church declares itself a reconciling congregation in violation of the Discipline, is that not a local option?

    The nonsensical “Way Forward” only institutionalizes what already exists. (That’s not an argument for adoption, by the way.)

  2. And large, wealthy UM churches are basically congregational. They hire their own staff–even clergy–at least associates. The senior pastor and SPR tell the bishop who they would like to have appointed to the church, and the bishop rubber stamps the decision.

    When a pastor earns more than the DS and/or bishop, he/she is more powerful than either.

  3. I don’t think I’m sailing under the radar here, but may as well say that this summer is pregnant with interesting tropes. Hamilton’s reply to Good News revealed he (truly) does believe The United Methodist Church is ready to quit on unity in the historic tradition but continue residing in the same house and sharing the brand for the sake of appearances. This is an example of the “persona” trying to outflank reason.

  4. Unfortunately, it is worse than local option, it is antinomianism. If people are not motivated to follow the Book of Discipline, does it make sense to believe that revising it will make any difference? Let’s recognize reality, cancel General Conference, and ignore any parts of the Book of Discipline we don’t like, We can use the millions saved by cancelling the meeting to make disciples, Bishops can enforce ecclesial discipline on whatever basis they choose. (But it’s not a problem because elders won’t need to obey anyway.) We can ignore those Judicial Council decisions that we dislike, We can recognize that we are in an era like the Book of Judges, when everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes. Those members who want a disciplined, connectional church can “vote with their feet,” swimming the Tiber, going Orthodox, or whatever. Those who like an “anything goes” denomination, can remain Methodist.

  5. Bp Willimon was one of several authors of a report back in the late ’80s or early ’90s that actually divided the United Methodist Church into 7 different ‘churches.’ Our big tent got too big.

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