What’s after the crossroads?

What happens when the Council of Bishops does not act?

That was my first question upon reading the Methodist Crossroads web site with its call for for the following actions at and after the Council of Bishops’ fall meeting:

  • The Council’s commitment to promote, defend and uphold the church’s biblical teaching that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman;
  •  A commitment from all active bishops that they will fully enforce the Discipline with respect to those clergy members who disregard church teaching and choose to preside at same sex services;
  •  A strongly worded directive to all annual conferences and jurisdictions not to circumvent the Discipline’s teachings regarding same sex services or the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals;
  •  A public statement noting that those bishops who have stated they will use their influence to prevent trials as a means of just resolution for clergy who preside at same sex services have been censured by the council; and,
  •  A commitment from all bishops that when trials occur they will appoint as counsel for the church individuals fully supportive of the church’s teachings and the necessity for organizational accountability.

Given the membership of the Council of Bishops, I cannot imagine the body will satisfy the desires of those who wrote and endorse the Integrity and Unity statement.

In the FAQ on the website, the authors propose the following if the Council of Bishops fails to act on its request:

If the Council is not able to restore unity with integrity, then we believe the healthy and mature response is to admit we are so deeply divided we are no longer one church. And the church would do well to seriously explore the option of amicable separation. Again, we hope it does not come to this. But no one believes it would be productive to continue an unresolvable debate that hurts feelings, damages persons made in the image of God, and fosters cynicism throughout the church. It would be better for us to honestly admit we are no longer united. Remaining together would only sow confusion and undermine our witness and ministry to the world.

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10 thoughts on “What’s after the crossroads?

  1. I have endorsed the Integrity and Unity statement. I believe it is necessary, valid, and expresses the issues which divide us with great clarity. However, I have little hope that the aspirations and principles expressed in it will come to fruition. The battle lines have been drawn, a broken church is looming, and only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts of pastors and leaders within United Methodism.

  2. The statement seems too optimistic to me. The signers all WANT to see the UMC survive, so they are willing to hang-in-there a bit. I suspect most of the signers are from “vital” fairly healthy congregations, so their reluctance is understandable. I was a bit disappointed that these highly respected pastors lacked the courage to risk all (church buildings, pensions, salaries, etc) for Jesus’ sake. I now think the glue that binds the UMC together is money and the trust clause rather than the Holy Spirit.

  3. With all due respect to those who perceive the statement to be over-cautionary, or even “optimistic,” let me assure you the signatories encompass a lot of diversity but united in an urgent purpose. The time for kvetching and trivializing is past, and another General Conference looms (in radically progressive Portland, even!). In fact, do some reading between the lines (as all serious interpreters do). There is a presentiment of “expectancy” (if understated) that permeates these initiatives. That’s a good thing, if painful. Prepare to leave Egypt…

    1. I’ve left. I retired after 24 years of service in 2003. I continued to be loyal to the UMC for 10 years until I realized that the “vital” #umc megachurch I was attending is theologically in a very different place than I am (I didn’t hear a sermon on justification for 19 years, and only one tentative mention of sin).

      I stopped attending church a year ago, and I am in the wilderness already. I’d like some company here.

      1. My heart goes out to you, Holly. Instinctively, I want to offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. There are many others in the wilderness. Look for the scarlet thread, as you learned in seminary.

        1. I never heard of “the scarlet thread” at Candler. I just googled it though, and found a book by a Baptist preacher I’m not too fond of. I consider my wilderness journey a prophetic witness. Prophesy has been my spiritual gift/curse for many years. I tend to be about a decade ahead of other folks as I seek to follow the Lord–it’s part of the package.

          You are right—there are many “nones” around–faithful Christians who no longer fit in the institutional church. It is not an easy path, but it IS a faithful one. I appreciate the verbal cup of water…Thanks.

  4. Personally, I do not see Integrity or Unity in this proposal. It is the “My Way” of the A&W: My Way or The Highway Proposal.

    As for Integrity…
    Our Lord’s Summary of the Law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And, a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another As I Have Loved You. – Matthew 22:37, John 13:34

    As for Unity…
    There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

    The “My Way or the Highway” Proposal: “Creating a context for creation of a more purely conservative United Methodist Church. The mechanism for achieving this purification of United Methodism is basically twofold: first, suspend the trust clause and allow liberal churches and clergy to leave, second, make changes that lead to stricter enforcement of the established conservative language in the Discipline.”

    http://eremeticmusings.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/the-my-way-or-the-highway-proposal/

    1. Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I don’t see either the A&W plan or the Crossroads statement as “My Way or the Highway.” I know some of the people involved personally and some digitally. I can’t agree with that characterization of their motives.

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