Was 2004 a lost opportunity?

My Indiana Conference colleague Darren Cushman Wood has written a progressive reading of what he sees as the lost opportunity in 2004 to move the denomination in an incremental way toward a revision of its teaching on human sexuality.

Cushman Wood argues that the failure of the moderates to support a progressive proposal to formally recognize the divisions within the church led to radicalizing of progressives toward disruptive actions and open disobedience.

After the main vote had been taken on the amendment to the Social Principles the conference adjourned for lunch. The progressive coalition, led by MFSA, used Smithfield United Church as a gathering place for the break. They packed the sanctuary to hear Bishop Leontine Kelly speak. Her message galvanized the despondent crowd to see their struggle in light of the last General Conference that had taken place in Pittsburgh in 1964. That was the last General Conference of the former Methodist Church during which liberals had protested the Central Jurisdiction, which had seemed undefeatable at that time.

The analogy between 1964 and 2004 became the lens through which these liberal delegates interpreted their defeat and the way forward. A martyrdom mentality was birthed and the idea of an incremental or practical approach to changing the denomination lost credibility. If moderate delegates could not support an amendment that was as timid as the one offered, so went the rationale, then the only course of future action would be more protesting and ecclesial disobedience.

I was not following these events in those days and still remain only a distant observer of these high-level movements in the church. I am curious how my more informed readers respond to his analysis and argument.

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2 thoughts on “Was 2004 a lost opportunity?

  1. The actual facts conflict with Rev. Woods’ spin. Disruption at General Conference goes back to at least 1996: http://goodnewsmag.org/2016/04/escalation-in-disruption/

    The failure to accept responsibility for acts that push away “moderates” or anyone else who wasn’t already convinced that Rev. Woods and his friends are absolutely correct is problematic: http://www.flumc.org/newsdetail/926933

    “Reasoning together” seems to be the last resort.

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