From the Pastor's Desk
Will the United Methodist Church Be Splitting, Now?
The short answer is, not officially. The long answer is, very likely some congregations will leave the denomination to begin a new, or to
unite with others who share their values.
But the truth is, it’s not a done deal. The Traditional Plan did, indeed, pass General Conference 2019. This means a majority of
the delegates chose to maintain the status quo regarding prohibition of ordination for LGBTQ+ persons who believe they are called to serve as elders and deacons. The plan also keeps in place the prohibition of celebrating samegender weddings by United
Methodist clergy in United Methodist church buildings.
You also may have read or heard the parts of the “Traditional Plan” were ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. The entire plan, along with the petitions ruled unconstitutional will be on the Judicial
Council docket when they meet in April.
But consider this:
“We have been here before. General Conferences from the beginning of the denomination have elected to turn away from Christ’s inclusive,
healing love. At the beginning of the founding conference at Baltimore in 1784 the leaders agreed with John Wesley’s desire for the American Methodists to not participate in slave owning or in the slave trade. By the end of that conference the anti-slavery petition was
tabled to accommodate the objections of the southern slave-holding states. Methodists fought and argued about slavery and abolition
from 1784 until the 1844 General Conference when the church split north and south.
The church remained divided into three separate denominations (Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church-South,
and Methodist Protestant Church) until 1939 when they agreed to become one church: The Methodist Church. The price of that unity, however, was the creation of the Central Jurisdiction. The ME-South insisted on continued segregation of African-American Methodists into their own racial jurisdiction. The General Conference agreed to segregate Black sisters and brothers in Christ into the Central Jurisdiction.
The segregation of the Methodist Church continued
until 1968. That General Conference agreed to abolish the Central Jurisdiction, at the insistence of the Evangelical United Brethren
agreement to merge with the Methodist Church and become The United Methodist Church.
The 1972 General Conference of The United Methodist Church added the current anti- LGBTQ+ language into the Social Principles
and prohibition of ordination for LGBTQ+ persons. Every General
Conference since 1972 has affirmed the mistaken, anti-traditional language and prohibitions. I’m writing all this to say
that we always need to remember General Conference is not The United Methodist Church. It is a dysfunctional body that is organized
to maintain the status quo. It’s very difficult for the Holy Spirit to break through Roberts Rules of Order. The true Church is in the local congregations, like Desert Chapel. Christ works through and in the lives of the people of local congregations. Our hope is in Christ and
his redeeming, healing love and justice. ” (Thanks to Rev. Dr. Steven Manskar for this information. After serving for many years as
Director of Wesleyan Leadership with the General Board of Discipleship, Rev. Manskar is currently the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Let’s continue to work for peace and justice, for hope and love. To bring the light of Christ into a divided world.
Grace and Peace,