Thursday, June 05, 2014

Quick Thought on the UMC Crisis

I more and more believe that the UMC split is not going to happen. I can already see the writing on the wall. If it does, it will only be a small minority of churches that withdraw. The resultant body would not be strong if it tried to continue on its own and it might even have an unhealthy dynamic.

Why? Because of gravity. It will take a massive amount of sustained energy to withdraw, to leave orbit. That usually takes a level of anger or resolve that I just don't think many have, and those who do are often scary people. I personally would not want to join my own, currently peaceful denomination, to that sort of dynamic, even if we agree theologically. Your theology can be the same but your flavor entirely different because of the trajectory you are on.

The vast majority of UM congregations (who probably have not even heard of the crisis) would stay with the parent body even if they agree theologically with the proposed separators. Most UM congregations are aging and not at the point of life where they're up for a long, sustained battle. They more have the same flavor of unity within disagreement that the liberal bishops have. They are UM precisely because they love inclusion, unity, and order.

Here is then my two cents critique of those pushing for amicable separation. They should be attacking the dysfunctional organization of the UM church, not doctrine. The ironic thing--and what really has their ire up--is that they currently have the votes. What ticks them off the most is that the leadership of the church is not following the policies it is their job to enact.

The question of homosexual ordination may be what is of most concern to the "agree to disagree" group. But they have undermined their cause by front-featuring that issue (or letting their opposition front-feature it). It makes them look like separatists. It makes them look unloving and hostile. It makes them look narrow-minded. It makes them look un-United Methodist.

What they should do rather, in my opinion, is to plan and mount in full view a full scale organizational assault on the dysfunctional organization of the UM church to be taken up at the next General Conference. They should get their best legal minds to orchestrate the needed reorganization of the UM church in such a way that their supreme judiciary cannot overthrow all their hard work at the last minute, as happened last General Conference.

Everyone knows the UM church is dying and is in drastic need of organizational modification. Everyone knows that the COB pretty much does whatever the heck it wants no matter what the people of the UM church vote for. The proposal can be orchestrated publicly in a way that everyone knows the votes are there before they even get to the conference. Then the movement is poised to save the church not to separate from the church. Then the anger is against dysfunctional leadership that ignores the rules of the church, is stubbornly insistent on self-destruction, and couldn't give a rip what the people of the UM church think.  THAT is how you change the church, IMO.

Imagine if some genius could orchestrate a new rule within the UM church that made it possible to remove bishops who do not abide by the Discipline of the church!


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Have you been taking notice of what is happening in American Government and learned a lesson from "bad leadership"?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Interesting that the Catholic Church is questioning its decision at the Council of Nicea,sometime in the near future, yet, you are not suggesting a renegotiation of that doctrine. Is that because Church leadership makes these decisions and passes them on to the laity to swallow "whole"...without critical analysis? Isn't that the way the Church became a Jewish sect, in the first place?

The "liberal bishops" understand the "handwriting on the wall" concerning marriage in America and desire to affirm civility within the Church, instead of sectarian division. Yet, the laity do not desire to assimulate those they think "unbiblical" as they fear societal demise.

Just what is marriage to be for and about? Consent and choice was the Western way to make civil unions, while covenant and commitment for particular functions was the religious understanding.

Is marriage about monogomy or procreation, primarily? The first does not preclude civil unions (including gay ones), but natural procreation does. But, with medical science, reproduction is available to any union and adoption is always an option. Is the gender important to children in providing nurture, or is the stability of the marital commitment?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yet, monogamy was not "biblical" in the truest sense, was it? Nor is it how anthropology or psychological science understands natural human behavior....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Is gender identity a biological or environmental/cultural given? Is gender a body identification or a mind identification?